A little more than two years ago, Yemen’s Houthi militia, swept south from its northern strongholds. The rebels were supported by Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned after thirty years in power due to peaceful protests in 2011. The rebels seized the country’s capital of Sana’a and much of the country’s northern territories, and took over the government, expelling the administration of sitting President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
In March 2015, as part of an effort to push the Houthis out of Sana’a and restore the Hadi government, a coalition of Gulf Arab nations launched a campaign of air strikes against the rebels.
And as is usually the case in war, it’s the civilian population that suffers. The United Nations estimates that of around 9,000 people that have died since the escalation of the conflict, at least half were civilians. The United States has called on all parties to the conflict to take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties, and to investigate those incidents when they occur.
"You can see from the humanitarian situation, which is dire and deteriorating rapidly, that it is urgent that we try to bring this war to a close," said Secretary of State John Kerry recently at a press conference. He spoke in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after a meeting of diplomats from the United States, the United Kingdom, Oman and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen.
“The purpose of our meetings was to talk about the challenge of bringing the war in Yemen to a close and how to move forward with a plan to stop the fighting and to negotiate a political settlement,” said Secretary of State Kerry. “We believe that only the UN-proposed plan, properly negotiated over time, is the way to bring this war to a close.”
The UN proposal outlines a comprehensive agreement whose details would be settled in negotiations. It includes a sequence of political and security steps to lower tensions and build confidence, temporary appointments to facilitate the period of government transition, and the formation of a national unity government. None of the measures would go into effect until all parties have signed a comprehensive agreement.
“It’s a framework for an outline that will bring the negotiations to a reality,” said Secretary of State Kerry. “We think that’s the only way to resolve this.