March 21-27: Parties agree to ceasefire and talks; US strikes kill AQAP suspects

Monday, March 21Talks in San’a on Sunday between Houthi rebels and UN Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed resulted in an agreement on a ceasefire prior to upcoming talks in Kuwait. Later on in the week it was revealed that the ceasefire is set to begin on April 10 while negotiations will commence on April 18.

Nineteen Yemeni Jews were airlifted to Israel from Raydah and San’a over the weekend in an operation organized by the Jewish Agency, which has brought approximately 200 Yemeni Jews to Israel in recent years. Approximately 50 Jews remain in Yemen, many of whom live in a compound close to the US embassy in San’a. The new arrivals in Israel brought with them a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old.

Human Rights Watch released a statement on Monday urging all countries, especially the US, the UK, and France, to suspend all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia until it ceases carrying out unlawful airstrikes in Yemen, which have led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians. HRW also demands that Saudi Arabia conduct credible investigations into these repeated violations of international humanitarian law.

Tuesday, March 22 At least 50 alleged al-Qaeda militants were killed in a US drone strike on their training camp west of al-Mukalla. The mass-casualty strike was announced by the Pentagon, and later confirmed by local medics and a Yemeni official who reported that those killed were members of al-Qaeda.

Wednesday, March 23 The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, confirmed on Wednesday that all parties to the Yemen conflict have agreed to a cessation of hostilities set to begin on midnight on April 10, preceding peace talks in Kuwait on April 18.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that the talks will be carried out “under the umbrella of three pillars: the GCC initiative, the National Dialogue, and UN resolution 2216” and will work towards ”reaching a comprehensive agreement, which will end the conflict and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue in accordance with resolution 2216 and other relevant UN resolutions.”

Friday, March 25 Three suicide bombings killed 26 people in Aden on Friday. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted military checkpoints, two of which were near a coalition base.

Saturday, March 26 Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen. Mass demonstrations, which former president Saleh called for in a speech on March 23, were held in San’a to protest the coalition’s ongoing war in Yemen. Mareb Press, however, reported that celebrations in Aden and Ma’rib celebrated the one year anniversary.

Sunday, March 27 The Independent reported on Sunday that the UAE fighter jet which crashed into a mountainside near Aden on March 14 was in fact shot down by al-Qaeda using a Russian-made surface-to-air missile. This contradicts earlier reports that claim the jet experienced a technical malfunction, leading to the crash which killed both pilots aboard.

US airstrikes killed 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants on Sunday in Abyan province, according to local medics and residents. The aircraft reportedly bombed buildings used by al-Qaeda and destroyed a government intelligence headquarters in the provincial capital Zinjibar that the militants had captured and were using as a base.