The UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said Monday that he was encouraged by a push to end the war as Oman has renewed its efforts to mediate between the warring parties.
“We are witnessing a potential step change in the trajectory of this eight-year-conflict,” Grundberg told the UN Security Council.
According to The Associated Press, Grundberg thanked Saudi Arabia for its diplomatic efforts, but Riyadh is a party to the conflict, unlike Oman, which is a neutral mediator. Muscat declined to join Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf nations in their initial US-backed intervention in Yemen in 2015.
The violence in Yemen has been down significantly since April 2022, when a ceasefire came into effect. The ceasefire expired in October, but there have still been no reports of Saudi airstrikes in Yemen or Houthi attacks inside Saudi Arabia.
There’s been fighting on the ground, but Grundberg said that “the overall military situation in Yemen has remained stable.” The war could always escalate unless the warring sides reach a long-term political solution, which the Houthis have been calling for.
“Without an agreement that includes a shared vision for the way forward, the state of uncertainty will persist, and with it an increasing risk of military escalation and a return to full-blown conflict,” Grundberg said.
The Houthis main demands for a ceasefire are a complete lifting of the blockade on Yemen and for government employees to be paid their salaries using revenue from oil and gas sales. The Houthis have recently launched attacks on oil infrastructure controlled by the Saudi-backed government that is currently headed by a presidential council based in Riyadh.
Mahdi al-Mashat, a Houthi official who heads the Supreme Presidential Council, thanked Oman on Monday for its mediation efforts and signaled that good progress was being made. “The consultations with the Omani delegation bore positive ideas related to the full opening of the port of Hodeidah, the opening of roads, and the exchange of prisoners,” al-Mashat said, according to Al Mayadeen.