Houthi rebels agree to 5 day cease fire with Saudis

Houthi rebels in Yemen have agreed to a Saudi proposal for a 5 day cease fire in order to allow critical humanitarian relief to civilians. 

The Saudi effort is seen as an acknowledgement that their bombing campaign has been largely ineffective in pushing the rebels out of their strongholds.

New York Times:

The Houthis’ acceptance of the cease-fire came as a Saudi-led military coalition bombed the private residence of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former president and the Houthis’ most important ally in the war. Mr. Saleh apparently survived the attack on his residence, in Sana, the Yemeni capital.

In its statement accepting the cease-fire, the Houthis said the group would “respond” to any violation of the truce by “Al Qaeda or those who stand with them.” The Houthis frequently assert that their opponents, who include southern separatists; supporters of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s exiled president; moderate Islamists; and more hard-line groups, all belong to Al Qaeda.

The cease-fire would begin at 11 p.m. on Tuesday. Since proposing a halt in the hostilities, the Saudi-led coalition has ratcheted up its bombing campaign, in an apparent effort to inflict as much damage as possible on the Houthis and their allies before the pause in fighting.

Airstrikes on Mr. Saleh’s residence and in the northern province of Saada, a Houthi stronghold, also reflected a desire by the Saudi-led coalition to salvage a military victory by killing opposition leaders after a six-week bombing campaign that analysts say has failed to meet most of its original goals.

More than 1,400 people have been killed since March, when Saudi Arabia launched its aerial campaign against the Houthis, a Shiite movement that had taken control of Yemen’s capital and forced the government from power. The Houthis have weathered the onslaught and continued their advance.

The Saudi escalation over the last few days had drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups as well as the United Nations. Saudi officials told residents of Saada on Friday to leave the area and declared the province a military zone.

It's interesting that the rest of the world has largely remained silent as the Saudis have killed 1400 civilians in just over two months of fighting. I don't recall such forebearance when America inadvertently killed civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan because the enemy used them as human shields.

As for the cease fire, al-Qaeda might not approve and keep fighting the Houthis anyway. The same holds true for the growing number of ISIS fighters filtering into the country. This is what blew up the last attempt at a cease fire, as the Houthis were forced to fight back to maintain their advance. 

For the sake of the thousands of civilians in dire need of food and medicine, let's hope this cease fire holds.