Kerry Calls for Rapid and Unconditional Cease-Fire in Yemen

  • Cessation of hostilities to commence within days, if not hours
  • Comes as Kerry joins U.K. counterpart Boris Johnson in London

While the international spotlight is focused on the conflict in Syria, Yemen’s civil war appears close to achieving a cease-fire.

A road map to end hostilities has been agreed to, with a cease-fire to commence within days, if not hours, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in London alongside his British counterpart Boris Johnson and the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed.

Key players of both parties -- Yemeni President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi, the rebel Houthi group lead negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam, and Adel Al-Ahmad Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister -- were said to have agreed to the arrangement.

We “are calling today for the implementation of a cease-fire to be implemented by the parties as rapidly as possible, meaning Monday, Tuesday, but moving very rapidly,” said Kerry. “This is the time to implement a cease-fire unconditionally, and to move to the negotiating table.”

While headlines in the Middle East have been dominated by the ongoing bloody civil war in Syria, where a brief cease-fire came to an abrupt halt in September, Yemen’s long-running struggle has escalated since the bombing of a funeral hall in the capital Sana’a on Oct. 8 by a Saudi-led coalition. The strike killed at least 140 people. The U.S. in the past week fired bombs following the targeting of a naval warship by Houthi rebels.

The U.K. has been under pressure to find a solution to the conflict, and its arms sales to Saudi Arabia have come under increased scrutiny since the funeral bombing. The country made up 40 percent of domestic military sales in the 9 months through to December 2015.

“The world has had enough of the conflict now in Yemen,” said Johnson. “The road map offers a genuine way forward for both sides if they will take that opportunity.”