On October 30, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and revealed that UN-led negotiations to end the war will begin in November.
“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen … Substantive consultations under the UN Special Envoy must commence this November in a third country,” Pompeo said in an official statement released by the Department of State.
According to Pompeo, the talks will be mainly aimed at implementing confidence-building measures to solve the main issues of the conflict, including the demilitarization of borders, and the concentration of all large weapons under international observation.
A day after Pompeo’s statement, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Washington had been watching the conflict in Yemen “for long enough” and promised to boost the peace efforts within the next 30 days.
“We have got to move towards a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days … It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction,” Mattis said during a speech in the U.S. Institute of Peace, according to the BBC.
In his first response, Martin Griffiths the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen welcomed the U.S. calls and stressed that the Yemeni conflict can be resolved only through talks. Later, it was revealed that the U.N. asked Sweden to host the upcoming Yemeni negotiations, which indicates the U.S. seriousness.
“We remain committed to bring the Yemeni parties to the negotiations table within a month. Dialogue remains the only path to reach an inclusive agreement,” the BBC quoted Griffiths as saying.
This major shift on U.S. policy on Yemen may be an attempt to ease international pressure on Saudi Arabia, wich erupted after the recent war crimes in Yemen and the assassination of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi. Earlier this month, Lebanese Hezbollah’s commander advised Saudi Arabia to end its war on Yemen in order to find a way out of its current troubles.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not commented on the U.S. relarms yet. Nonetheless, the Mattis remarks will highly unlikely result in any real developments on the ground while the US takes not real steps to halt its military support to Saudi Arabia.