April 11-17: Shaky ceasefire takes hold one week before scheduled peace talks

Monday, April 11Yemen’s ceasefire, which was scheduled to begin at midnight on April 10, was delayed 24 hours. Soon after the truce took hold on Monday, both sides accused one another of breaking it. The typically pro-Hadi government site Mareb Press reported violations by Houthi forces, while the pro-Houthi outlet Al-Masirah documented continued Saudi-led coalition airstrikes near San’a, Ta’iz, and other provinces. Despite these violations, the ceasefire remained in place. 

Tuesday, April 12 Four people were killed and eight others wounded in Aden on Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a group of young army recruits. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Wednesday, April 13 Mareb Press reported that a pro-Hadi military commander was killed in Nihm, east of San’a, during clashes with Houthi forces. The source claims that Houthi fighters initiated the attack in violation of the ongoing ceasefire and a number of the rebels were killed and injured in the exchange. Here is the same story, from the Gulf News perspective.

Local tribal officials and officers were dispatched on Wednesday to the provinces of Marib, Ta’iz, and Hajjah to act as ceasefire monitors in an attempt to stop truce violations and allow humanitarian aid to pass through.

US Senators Chris Murphy and Rand Paul introduced a resolution that would place conditions on US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The proposal comes after Human Rights Watch revealed that US-supplied weapons were used in the Saudi-led airstrikes on a Hajjah market in March, which killed at least 119 people, mostly civilians.

Coalition helicopters reportedly struck al-Qaeda militants in Abyan province on Wednesday. At least 10 were killed and a number of others injured in one of the rare occasions that the Saudi-led coalition has directly attacked the militant group.

Thursday, April 14 Military sources reported on Thursday that 13 pro-Hadi government fighters were killed during attacks by Houthi forces in Nihm, outside of San’a. This is one of many attacks reportedly launched by both sides since the ceasefire began on April 10.

An apparent disagreement between the UK’s Foreign and Home offices was revealed after the Home Office issued an assessment stating that returning refugees to war-torn Yemen would be a breach of human rights due to the ongoing and indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. The Foreign Office, however, says that the government should not indulge these claims by “special interest groups” (meaning human rights groups and charities) that have repeatedly documented Saudi war crimes.

Friday, April 15 Yemeni forces, backed by Apache helicopters from a Saudi-led coalition, recaptured the city of Houta in southern Lahj province from al-Qaeda fighters after a gun battle on Friday morning.

The United States is considering a request from the UAE for military support to wage an offensive in Yemen against AQAP, according to US officials. The UAE is reportedly asking the US for help with medical evacuation and combat search and rescue as part of a broad request for American air power, intelligence, and logistics support in fighting al-Qaeda.

Saturday, April 16 The US transferred on Saturday nine Yemeni detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Saudi Arabia, completing a long-sought diplomatic deal ahead of Obama’s visit to Riyadh in the coming week. There are now 80 prisoners left in Guantanamo, 43 of whom are from Yemen.

Local Yemeni committees agreed on Saturday to begin monitoring the ceasefire, according to security officials. Monitors in Ta’iz agreed to exchange records of prisoners in preparation to release them, while also agreeing to open roads to Ta’iz, which the Houthis have besieged for nearly a year.

Sunday, April 17 Both sides appeared to be ready for Monday’s peace talks in Kuwait, with Hadi’s Foreign Minister Abdel Malek al-Mekhlafi saying, “We are ready for a political transition which excludes no one...The world now looks to the Kuwait consultations as a landmark of peace for Yemenis, and we will give everything we can to alleviate the suffering of the people.” Meanwhile, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, spokesman for the Houthis, told Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai that "There should be a consensus authority during a definite transitional phase to decide every political dispute," adding that "Iran does not have any role in our sovereign decisions and we are not tools in anyone's hands."