Riyadh and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Fighting on the ground in Yemen continued on Monday despite a five-day ceasefire declared by the Saudi-led coalition targeting the Houthis in Yemen, according to Houthi-affiliated media outlets.
The Saba news agency, which is controlled by the Houthis, said the group’s forces and allies loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday attacked areas in the Red Sea province of Jizan with rockets and shells.
A five-day humanitarian ceasefire was declared from 11:59 pm local time on Sunday evening by the Saudi-led coalition targeting the Houthis in Yemen. The ceasefire came following a request by Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach Yemenis caught up in the conflict.
A previous ceasefire offer from the Arab coalition was extended to the Houthis in May, but the group continued hostile activities even as the ceasefire began, leading the coalition to resume airstrikes.
The coalition said in a statement last week that it reserved the right to restart airstrikes should the Houthis fail to respect the current ceasefire. Unconfirmed reports suggest coalition jets resumed strikes on Houthi targets on Monday.
Meanwhile, on Sunday President Hadi met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Hadi called on the UN envoy to visit the southern port city of Aden, recently liberated by Yemeni forces loyal to the president after the city was occupied by the Houthis for several months.
Some members of Yemen’s government-in-exile currently based in Riyadh have returned to Aden over the past week, where they hope to set up a rival power base to the capital Sana’a, which the Houthis have occupied since September 2014.
On Sunday Yemen’s Human Rights Minister Ezz Al-Din Al-Asbahi called called for Gulf diplomatic missions to return to the country and base operations in Aden. Several diplomatic missions were evacuated last year following the Houthi occupation of Sana’a.
Following his meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretary Abdullatif Al-Zayani, Asbahi told Asharq Al-Awsat Zayani had reacted “positively” to the proposal to relocate Gulf embassies to Aden.
GCC countries are also ready to assist Yemen in delivering humanitarian aid to the country’s people, and will work with the government in Aden to distribute the aid to those in need, Asbahi added.
A Saudi ship carrying humanitarian supplies arrived at Aden’s main seaport on Sunday, in response to calls from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz. Ra’fat Al-Sabagh, spokesman for the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works, said the ship was carrying 3, 540 tons of food and medical supplies.
Yemen’s current crisis began last year when the Houthis, backed by Iran and forces loyal to ex-president Saleh, occupied the capital Sana’a, taking over government, military, and media buildings and installations.
The group’s militias later spread to other parts of the country, also targeting civilians and Yemen’s oil installations—a vital source of national income for the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country.
The group launched a coup in February when it dissolved the government and put Hadi and members of the cabinet under house arrest. Hadi eventually escaped to Riyadh in March where he requested Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies intervene with military force in Yemen in order to restore political legitimacy in the country.
Arafat Madabish contributed additional reporting from Sana’a.