Anti-war campaigners on Tuesday applauded news that the United Nations-brokered truce in Yemen had been extended for another two months and called on U.S. lawmakers to help ensure more permanent peace by passing the Yemen War Powers Resolution.
Both the Saudi-led military coalition, which receives backing from the U.S. government, and the Houthis have been accused of violating the four-month ceasefire, but anti-war groups and civilians report that access to fuel and freedom of movement since the United Nations brokered the truce in April have helped people return to some semblance of normalcy, as reports of civilian casualties have dropped.
The extension of the ceasefire until October 2, said the Friends Committee on National Legislation, is “incredibly important news” for millions of Yemeni civilians.
❗️❗️❗️ Incredibly important news!— FCNL (Quakers) (@FCNL) August 2, 2022
The first four months of the truce have brought major improvements to the lives of the Yemeni people. This extension proves that peace is possible.
Congress: Prevent backsliding by Saudi Arabia and pass the Yemen War Powers Resolution! https://t.co/8nTSKr4Y7H
“Oxfam welcomes the extension of the truce in Yemen and urges all parties to now prioritize the lives of Yemeni civilians and uphold and fulfil all areas of the agreement,” said Abdulwasea Mohammed, advocacy, media, and campaigns manager for Oxfam Yemen. “The last four months have bought some hope. Now is the time for all parties—and the international community—to work towards a lasting and inclusive peace that guarantees the lives, dignity and freedom of the Yemeni people.”
“It is crucial that Congress sends a strong message that the United States will no longer be party to offensive operations conducted by the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.”
U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said as he announced the truce extension that he had shared a proposal with both sides of the conflict for an “expanded truce proposal” for more long-lasting peace.
An expanded truce should allow for “the full number and regularity of flights between the agreed destinations and Sana’a International Airport and the number of fuel ships entering Hudaydah port,” said Grundberg. “It is also important to make progress on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates to facilitate the freedom of movement of millions of Yemeni women, men and children, and of goods.”
“The main objective of the current truce continues to be to provide tangible relief to civilians and to create a conducive environment for reaching a peaceful settlement to the conflict through a comprehensive political process,” said Grundberg. “In the coming weeks, I will intensify my engagements with the parties to ensure the full implementation of all the parties’ obligations in the truce… The people of Taiz and across Yemen deserve for the truce to deliver for them in all its aspects.”
The four-month truce has represented the longest period of relative peace since the war began in 2014. More than 17,500 civilians have been killed and injured and the war has contributed to a food security crisis affecting more than 20 million people, with 10 million at risk of famine.
“Commercial flights between Sana’a, Amman and Cairo have allowed over 8,000 Yemenis to access lifesaving medical care, pursue education and business opportunities, and reunite with loved ones,” said international aid agencies including Oxfam, Save the Children, and Mercy Corps on Tuesday ahead of Grundberg’s announcement. “In the past four months of the truce, more fuel ships have entered Hudaydah port than in the whole year of 2021, allowing hospitals and businesses greater access to fuel, helping to maintain proper functionality of and access to public services.”
Daniel DePetris of Defense Priorities said the truce extension represented “good news in an otherwise horrible war.”
Yemeni political researcher Adel Dashela told Al Jazeera that a longer-term peace agreement is urgently needed to keep violence from erupting at the same level as before the truce.
“Without disarming all militias in Yemen and restoring the legitimate authority, any truce extension or agreement will not serve the national interest of the country in the long-term,” Dashela told Al Jazeera. “Yemeni civilians have been glad that the truce reduced violence. But a ceasefire minus a definite peace plan is an incomplete solution, and the roots of war will keep alive.”
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a joint resolution to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war. The House’s version of the resolution was introduced in June.
“It is crucial that Congress sends a strong message that the United States will no longer be party to offensive operations conducted by the Saudi-UAE-led coalition, whether an agreement is reached or not, by passing the Yemen War Powers Resolution as soon as possible,” said Cavan Kharrazian, progressive foreign policy campaigner for Demand Progress. “Congressional action has played an important role in ongoing negotiations throughout the war, and lawmakers should maintain this pressure.”
“Not only was United States involvement in this brutal war unauthorized to begin with, but it is a crucial point of leverage to ensure that the Saudis and their allies remain at the negotiating table these next two months,” said Kharrazian. “It’s time to stop handing out blank checks for endless wars around the world, especially to regimes like Saudi Arabia.”
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