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Yemen War: US urges Saudi Arabia to agree ceasefire



  A Yemeni member of a school administration investigates the damage on the first day of the new academic year on September 16, 2018 at a school that was damaged in an airstrike last year.

Getty Images

Caption

Air strikes have caused widespread damage and many civilian casualties

The US called for the rapid end of hostilities in Yemen, where three years of civil war have caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that all parties would have to attend UN-led peace talks within the next 30 days.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which is fighting against the rebel Houthi movement, to end their airstrikes in the populated areas.

The US is under increasing pressure to discontinue its support for the country's coalition.

United Nations human rights experts say coalition forces may have committed war crimes in Yemen, and humanitarian organizations say their partial blockade has helped bring 1

4 million people to the brink of famine.

The assassination of the US Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, founded by Saudi Arabian agents in Istanbul this month, has also weighed on relations between Washington and Riyadh.

  • Ending Yemen's Never-Ending War
  • Yemen Crisis: Who's Fighting Who?

Why is there a war in Yemen?

Yemen was destroyed by a conflict that escalated in early 2015 when the Houthis escalated, seizing control of much of the west of the country and forcing President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee overseas.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as representing Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states engaged in a conflict in an attempt to restore the government. They were supported by the US, UK and France.

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Media Caption The UN says Yemen faces the World's Worst Famine for 100 Years War Continues

According to the United Nations, at least 6,660 civilians were killed and 10,560 injured in the fighting. Thousands more civilians died of preventable causes, including malnutrition, illness and ill health.

What did the US officials say?

Speaking at the US Peace Institute in Washington, Mr. Mattis said the US had watched the conflict "for long enough."

"We need to move towards a peace effort here, and we can not say we will do that sometime in the future, we have to do this in the next 30 days," he said.

Mr Mattis added that all sides were asked to meet with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in Sweden in November to "find a solution".

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Media Caption Headmaster mourns for the "sons" he lost

In a separate statement, Pompeo called on the Houthis to stop the rocket and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia. Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the coalition to stop the air strikes settle all populated areas in Yemen.

"It is time to end this conflict, replace the conflict with compromise, and allow Yemenis to heal through peace and reconstruction," he added.

The Trump government has previously supported Griffiths' mediation efforts and called for a political solution to the conflict, in line with UN Security Council 2216, which demands that the Houthis withdraw from all their occupied territories and give up their heavy weapons. The Houthis have rejected the resolution.

Why the US Ceasefire is Significant

By James Landale, Diplomatic Correspondent, BBC News

For months, the Trump administration has said little about this bloody conflict and left its Saudi allies Take the lead. However, the remarks made by Mr Mattis and Mr Pompeo show that the US is engaging in ways that they have not done for some time.

So far, both the United States and the United Kingdom have refused to formally demand a ceasefire by the UN, while it was clear that neither side was willing to think about it. But that seems to have changed. The question is, of course, why?

Diplomats point to growing pressure from the US Congress to act before the elections. The US could also hope to use the backlash against Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to put pressure on Riyadh to end the conflict. Some diplomats have even spoken of a Saudi compromise whereby Yemen is part of the rehabilitation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom.

The big question is how Iran will react. Some diplomats have suggested that Tehran would not be unhappy to resign from Yemen, that its commitment there is always opportunistic and not strategic, and that it has greater priorities elsewhere. However, it is not clear whether Iran would be prepared to help the US impose sanctions on its economy after withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal.

The US movement is important, but there is still a long way to go before a ceasefire becomes possible, let alone a political process to put an end to the conflict.

What was the reaction?

There was no immediate response from the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the Houthis or the government of Yemen.

But the head of the International Rescue Committee, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, said Washington's ceasefire call is "big news." 19659039] Media playback is not supported on your device.

Media Caption Orla Guerin meets sick children in Yemen

"I hope that this represents an outburst of common sense in the American administration that is ultimately the key to success when it comes to making decisions Saudi Arabia-led coalition, "he told the BBC.

He also said Britain, China and Russia "should be ashamed of their silence". "Where do their statements repeat what Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis have finally said," he asked.

United Kingdom Foreign Minister Alistair Burt told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the British government is pushing for a political solution to the Yemen conflict, but that would not suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.


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