Saudi Arabia offers cease-fire plan to Yemen rebels

World

FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2016 file photo, men are silhouetted against a large representation of the Yemeni flag as they attend a ceremony to mark the anniversary of North Yemen’s 1962 revolution in Sanaa, Yemen. On Monday, March 22, 2021, Saudi Arabia announced a plan to to offer Yemen’s Houthi rebels a cease-fire in the country’s yearslong war and allow a major airport to reopen in its capital. The Houthis offered no immediate comment to the proposal. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia announced a plan Monday to offer Yemen’s Houthi rebels a cease-fire in the country’s yearslong war and allow a major airport to reopen in its capital, the kingdom’s latest attempt to halt fighting that has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest nation.

The move by Saudi Arabia follows Yemen’s Houthi rebels stepping up a campaign of drone and missile attacks targeting the kingdom’s oil sites, briefly shaking global energy prices amid the coronavirus pandemic. It also comes as Riyadh tries to rehabilitate its image with the U.S. under President Joe Biden. Saudi Arabia has waged a war that saw it internationally criticized for airstrikes killing civilians and embargoes exacerbating hunger in a nation on the brink of famine.

Whether such a plan will take hold remains another question. A unilaterally declared Saudi cease-fire collapsed last year. Fighting rages around the crucial city of Marib and the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes as recently as Sunday targeting Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. A United Nations mission said another suspected airstrike hit a food-production company in the port city of Hodeida.

The Houthis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It is up to the Houthis now,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told journalists in a televised news conference in Riyadh. “The Houthis must decide whether to put their interests first or Iran’s interests first.”

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