A senior leader of Yemen’s Shiite rebels yesterday said the group would halt rocket fire into Saudi Arabia for the sake of peace efforts, answering a key Saudi demand in the first public sign of hope for the latest push to stop the bloodshed and civilian suffering in the Arab world’s poorest country.
For the past three years, a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been waging war against the rebels, known as Houthis, to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power.
The rebels say they had been excluded from that government and took power to rectify historic grievances against central authority.
Rebel leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said in a statement to journalists that the Iran-backed rebels ordered the cessation of rocket and drone attacks on the Saudis and forces loyal to coalition member the United Arab Emirates at the request of UN special envoy Martin Griffiths.
“We are ready to freeze and stop military operations on all fronts in order to achieve peace,” al-Houthi said, mentioning the rockets specifically as part of a longer statement in which he blamed the US for being the main driver for what he called “the aggression” against Yemen.
Yemen’s civil war began in the wake of its Arab Spring uprising, when the Houthis swept down from their northern stronghold and took the capital, Sana’a, in 2014, with the help of troops loyal to Yemen’s former strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The government fled the following year, and Saudi Arabia, citing fears that Iran was using the Shiite leanings of the revolt to make inroads on the Arabian Peninsula, began launching airstrikes against the rebels.
The latest Saudi Arabian-led offensive, which began last summer, has been focused on capturing the key rebel-held port city of Hodeida, through which almost all of Yemen’s food and desperately needed humanitarian aid flows.
Griffiths on Friday said that both sides had agreed to attend talks in Sweden “soon” aimed at ending the conflict.
His announcement followed an informal de-escalation last week around Hodeida, although fighting has continued in other areas.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including