Yemen Prisoner Swap Begins, Raising Hopes for Peace Process

1,081 prisoners to be exchanged under deal

The Saudi-led coalition and the Shi’ite Houthi movement have begun the largest prisoner swap of the Yemen War, with some 1,081 prisoners on their way back to their respective sides. Three planes took off from the capital of Sanaa today, carrying coalition fighters.

One of the planes included at least 15 Saudi nationals, and an unspecified number of Sudanese who were heading to Saudi Arabia. The other two planes were Yemenis, and are being flown to Hadramout region, to an area controlled by pro-Saudi government.

At roughly the same time, two airplanes left the same Hadramout airport, and anotherr left Saudi Arabia, carrying Houthi captives being sent back to the Houthi-held capital. The deal is being overseen by the Red Cross, and was negotiated on the side of attempted peace talks.

With everything going to plan, the hope is that this will be the sort of confidence-building measure needed to really get the peace process going in earnest. After more than five years of war, both sides seem interested in making a deal, but each is facing resistance from some groups within who don’t trust the other side to keep their end of the deal.

Talk of ending the war has mostly centered on a power-sharing deal for Yemen among the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government, though the government has resisted sharing, and the UAE-backed separatists are keen to see a resolution in which Yemen is split along historical north and south lines.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of