Negotiators representing Yemen’s Houthis left Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after five days of talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the eight-year conflict between the two parties.
No deals were signed after the talks, but two sources told Reuters that some progress was made on the main sticking points between the two sides, which includes a timeline for foreign troops exiting Yemen and the payment of Yemeni government employees salaries.
The negotiations also focused on the full lifting of the blockade on Houthi-controlled ports and the Sanaa airport. The sources told Reuters that more talks are expected after consultations “soon.”
The talks marked the first time since the US-backed Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 that a Houthi delegation traveled to Saudi Arabia. The peace talks are being mediated by Oman and built on meetings that were held in April when a Saudi delegation visited Houthi-controlled territory for the first time.
While there’s been fighting on the ground, a de facto ceasefire between the Saudis and Houthis has held relatively well since April 2022. In that time, there’s been no Saudi airstrikes in Yemen and no Houthi attacks inside Saudi Arabia. But until a lasting deal is agreed to and the blockade is fully lifted, there’s a risk of escalation.
The US-backed Saudi war on Yemen has been devastating for Yemeni civilians, as the coalition used brutal tactics by enforcing the blockade and frequently bombing civilian infrastructure. According to the UN, as of the end of 2021, 377,000 people have been killed in the war. More than half of the deaths were due to preventable disease and starvation caused by the siege.