Saudi Arabia’s proposal for a ceasefire beginning Wednesday (March 30) has been rejected by Houthi officials, who say any truce must include a lifting of the naval blockade.
The UN has been trying to broker a Ramadan ceasefire for Yemen. The Houthis announced a ceasefire over the weekend for three days, and the Saudis followed up Tuesday to announce a ceasefire starting Wednesday. That sounded like a positive step, with humanitarian aid seemingly a big perk of such a deal.
Houthi official Mohammed al-Bukaiti was quick to shoot a hole in the plan, however, saying that the Saudi proposal intended to keep the naval blockade in place, and keep Sanaa Airport closed down.
Other Houthi officials say that they are interested in the Saudis showing a “seriousness” for peace, which again would hinge on getting aid into the country.
This is a dangerous gambit for the Houthis. Though it was fair of them to point out that the naval blockade is causing more damage than the fighting itself, holding out for it risks not getting the ceasefire at all. If a deal doesn’t materialize, the Saudis will almost certainly push the narrative that they wanted peace and the Houthis didn’t, which though not accurate, would probably be endorsed by many Saudi allies.