The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced on March 23 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 that are scheduled to take place in Kuwait on April 18. According to Ahmed, 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.”
The envoy further explained that the talks will focus on five main areas; he has asked the parties to present concept papers on each of them by 3 April.
- the withdrawal of militias and armed groups
- the handover of heavy weapons to the State
- interim security arrangements
- the restoration of state institutions and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue
- the creation of a special committee for prisoners and detainees
Ahmed has said that “only a political solution and inclusive peace process will ensure a future of reconciliation and peace in the country,” but many analysts remain skeptical that the upcoming negotiations in Kuwait will accomplish any of the above goals, citing previous UN-brokered talks on Yemen that have failed to reach any agreement.
The UN envoy, however, says that there are signs of hope that this round of talks will be different, such as recent humanitarian breakthroughs in Ta’iz and successful tribal-mediated negotiations that led to a Houthi-Saudi prisoner exchange and temporary border calm earlier this month. He also added that the parties “are closer than ever [to a peace agreement] and we have the conviction that if we fail this time this is probably one of our last chances to get an end to this war.”
A video of Special Envoy Ahmed's press conference can be found here.