Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress said on its website Sunday that it would "respond positively" to a U.N. resolution issued last week calling for a ceasefire among all groups involved in Yemen's current civil war, according to the Associated Press. On one side, that includes pro-Saleh forces, who are fighting alongside the Iran-allied, Shia Houthi rebels loyal to Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, and, on the other side, those who support exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. This announcement comes after Saudi-led airstrikes targeting the Houthi rebels have raged across Yemen, killing another 85 people Sunday, according to the Daily Mail.
"(The party) welcomes the U.N. Secretary-General's call to for a cease-fire from all sides and a return to dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations," the pro-Saleh party website said, according to the AP. The statement also urged parties "inside and outside" the country to respond to the call.
The U.N. told the Daily Mail that the conflict has killed hundreds and thousands of families have fled their homes since the air war began on March 26, when Hadi ordered airstrikes against the Houthi rebels, who were trying to oust him from power. The U.N. said Saudi Arabia has also pledged to completely fund a $273.7 million appeal for humanitarian aid to the country, according to Al Jazeera.
The conflict between the Houthis and pro-Hadi forces is a part of a larger, regional power struggle between Iran, which is Shia-ruled, and Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni-ruled and shares a long border with Yemen, according to BBC.
BBC News says Yemen is strategically important to surrounding countries (and to the United States) because of the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a narrow waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, which is used to transport a good majority of the world's oil. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are afraid that passage through the strait would be threatened by a Houthi takeover.
The most recent struggle over land control between the groups happened Sunday, when forces loyal to exiled President Hadi regained control of part of the coastline of Yemen's second largest city, the southern port city of Aden, unnamed security officials told the AP. This gained position will allow them to attack the rebel-controlled airport and cut off supplies to any anti-Hadi forces.
Brigadier General Abdulrahman al-Halily, a Yemeni commander of a large military district covering half the country's border with Saudi Arabia, also pledged his support on Sunday to the exiled president, the same officials told the AP. This means that pro-Hadi forces will have 15,000 additional troops in the desert and mountain border area to Saudi Arabia, who supports the exiled president and has led a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels for three weeks.
This is much-needed news, since most of Yemen's military is loyal to ex-president Saleh, whose forces have been fighting alongside the Houthi rebels all across Yemen's south and east, according to Al Jazeera. Additionally, though Iran denies arming the Shiite rebels, the country is a key ally to them and forces loyal to Saleh, who was forced out of his presidency in Yemen during a 2011 uprising, according to the Daily Mail.
Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, who is reporting in Jizan at the Saudi Arabia border with Yemen, said told Al Jazeera that though pro-Hadi forces are regaining some key land, they still don't have a leader who can unite and lead them. That instability is reflected even in the U.N., where Jamal Benomar, the peace envoy to Yemen, resigned amidst accusations that he was supporting the rebel side, even though he claimed to be a Hadi supporter, according to the Telegraph.
The Need for Aid
Unfortunately, aid has only been able to trickle into Yemen because the Saudi-led coalition has restricted Yemen's airspace and access to ports, according to the Daily Mail. On Saturday, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition told the Daily Mail that efforts are under way to step up aid after two loads of supplies donated by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates reached Yemen.
"Other cargos will follow in the coming days" in a "sea bridge to get aid to the Yemeni people," Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters and the Daily Mail.
A U.N. agency says that up to 150,000 people have been displaced over the past three weeks, and more than 300,000 had already fled their homes because of unrest in past years.
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