Washington, DC – The United States expressed hope on Thursday that diplomacy was working as Washington earlier asked the Houthis in Yemen to first cease their launches of missiles followed by a cessation of airstrikes in all populated areas by the Saudi-led coalition.
Replying to questions from IAT, at the State Department off-camera, on-the-record briefing, Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson said, “Based upon conversations that we have been having – diplomatic conversations, as well as intelligence, as well as other things that now – there is positive movement.”
Asked to elaborate on US talks with the warring parties, Palladino said, “We are having dialogue with a wide range of Yemeni interlocutors and international partners on this, and we are engaged.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Palladino had reiterated the calls for cessation of hostilities in Yemen saying: “We’re calling that the Houthis must cease missile and UAV strikes into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates immediately. And as soon as this happens, the Saudi-led coalition must cease airstrikes in all populated areas.”
On Thursday, pressed to clarify on the sequencing for a ceasefire, and not a call for a mutual cessation of hostilities, Palladino tried to explain, “A little good faith up front, I think would be a good thing as we move forward,” adding, “First thing is stop – cessation in the hostilities and then push forward on the political engagement.”
Not satisfied with his explanation, the journalists persisted in getting a clarification on sequencing and Palladino replied: “Our Saudi and Emirate partners, it’s – they have a right to defend their borders. We continue to support that right, and we call on the Houthis to cease missile and UAV strikes into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates immediately, and then the rest of the progression can continue.”
On a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, Palladino said, “As far as the political process goes, we are calling on all parties to support the United Nations Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict based upon the agreed references, and that’s the national dialogue, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, and the Gulf and the GCC initiative as well.”
Detailing the expectations of the US, spokesperson Palladino noted: “We want to see the parties engaging in the United Nations special envoy’s consultations in good faith, and we believe that the cessation of hostilities will provide the best basis for that.”
Palladino further stressed the need for dialogue saying, “We’ve always said that an enduring solution will only come through a comprehensive political agreement, and that’s going to require compromise. We’ve also always supported comprehensive peace negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, and we’ve supported the United Nations special envoy’s efforts to restart talks of those parties.”
Summing up, Palladino said, “Our message is end the conflict, replace the conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction.”
Thousands of civilians have died in the three-and-a-half-year civil war between forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, supported by a coalition of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the Houthi rebels who have the tacit support of the Iranian regime.
Although there is a possibility now that the conflict may be coming to an end, it has led to the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis facing famine and 22 million dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival.