On Monday, Saudi Arabia presented a new ceasefire proposal to Yemen’s Houthis. The plan calls for an UN-supervised nation-wide ceasefire, although the Saudis do not offer to fully lift the blockade on Yemen, a key Houthi demand.
According to a statement released by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry, the Saudis are offering to partially open the Sanaa airport. The ceasefire initiative would also revive a revenue-sharing mechanism between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government for ships carrying oil into the port of Hodeidah.
According to CNN, when announcing the initiative on Saudi TV, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Riyadh would allow ships carrying fuel to dock in Hodeidah. A CNN investigation from earlier this month revealed the Saudis were preventing ships from docking in Hodeidah, depriving Yemen’s starving civilian population of the fuel necessary to deliver food.
The Houthis said the offer was “nothing new” since the proposal would not fully lift the blockade. “Saudi Arabia must declare an end to the aggression and lift the blockade completely, but putting forward ideas that have been discussed for over a year is nothing new,” said Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam, according to the Houthis Al-Masirah TV.
“We expected that Saudi Arabia would announce an end to the blockade of ports and airports and an initiative to allow in 14 ships that are held by the coalition,” Abdulsalam said of the ships being held off Hodeidah in separate comments to Reuters. “Opening the airports and seaports is a humanitarian right and should not be used as a pressure tool.”
The offer comes as Saudi airstrikes have been pounding Yemen. Over the past few days, Saudi bombs have hit Maarib province, Sanaa, and the Red Sea port of Salif. The UN said on Monday that Saudi airstrikes hit a grain port in Salif. The Houthis said the Salif strikes killed at least one worker.
The US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen has caused mass starvation in the country. Now, the UN is warning if conditions don’t change, at least 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five will starve to death this year. Despite these facts, President Biden is not pressuring the Saudis to lift the blockade.