Saudi-led coalition ends air strikes in Yemen, enters political phase
A Saudi-led coalition declared an end April 21 to four weeks of air strikes in Yemen, saying it had eliminated the threat posed by Iran-backed rebels, as Washington welcomed the move and urged talks to end the crisis.
Despite the claims of success in a campaign launched by Sunni Arab nations to restore the authority of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, the capital Sanaa remains in rebel hands and fierce clashes continue in the key southern city of Aden.
The coalition said its operations have entered a political phase but left open the option of resuming strikes against the Huthi Shiite militia if needed, and added that a naval and air blockade on the strategic country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula will remain in place.
Shiite Iran welcomed the decision to halt the air war, calling it a “step forward” toward resolving the conflict, while there was no immediate reaction from the Huthis.
Hadi, in a televised speech from the Saudi capital where he fled in the face of a rebel advance that triggered chaos and a humanitarian crisis in his country, promised “victory” and vowed “we will soon return to our homeland, to Aden and Sanaa”.
The Saudi defence ministry said the air strikes had managed to “successfully remove threats to Saudi Arabia’s security and that of neighbouring countries” by destroying heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles seized by the Huthis.
While the White House said it welcomed the decision to halt the air war, it urged talks to end the crisis that threatened to draw regional powers into direct conflict.