Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says it will stop launching retaliatory missile and drone attacks against positions inside Saudi Arabia if the Saudi-led military coalition, which has been pounding impoverished Yemen for the past several years, reciprocates the initiative in kind.
The Ansarullah’s president of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, Mahdi al-Mashat, made the announcement on Friday.
“We are announcing that we will stop targeting Saudi territories with drones and ballistic missiles and all kinds of targeting, and we will wait for the favor to be returned with a similar or even better one by (Saudi Arabia) announcing a halt to all sorts of air strikes against Yemeni territories,” Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted him as saying.
Mashat’s comments came almost a week after Houthi fighters conducted drone and missile strikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, in Abqaiq and Khurais. The attacks led to a halt in about 50 percent of the Arab kingdom’s crude and gas production, causing a surge in oil prices.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Yemen’s former regime back to power and crushing the Houthi movement, which significantly helping the Yemeni army in defending the country against invaders.
The Houthi top official also called for serious negotiations to be held among all parties involved in the persisting conflict.
“I call on all parties from different sides of the war to engage seriously in genuine negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive national reconciliation that does not exclude anyone,” Mashat said, while boasting the Houthi movement’s rapidly improved military capabilities and “significant advancement” in air and missile defense.
He also warned that that the Houthis “would not hesitate to launch a period of great pain” if their call for peace was ignored.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.
The Houthis publicly took credit for the September 14 attacks against Saudi oil facilities, but the US swiftly blamed Iran.
Tensions have significantly risen as a result of the accusations leveled against Iran, which Tehran has rejected, and there has been speculation that the US may take military or other forms of action against Iran or Iranian interests.