Saudi Arabia yesterday declared an end to its air campaign over Yemen, dubbed “Operation Decisive Storm”, and announced the beginning of “Operation Renewed Hope”:
“The coalition has completed the ‘Decisive Storm’ campaign at the request of the Yemeni government and the president of Yemen,” [Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri, the coalition’s spokesperson] said.
“The primary goals of the campaign have been achieved and sovereignty has been protected.
“We are able to confirm that the Houthis are no longer a threat to Yemenis or neighbouring countries.
“The Yemeni government will now undertake all necessary actions to start rebuilding the country.”
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not rule out further air strikes against the Houthis, and insisted that the coalition would maintain its naval blockade of Yemen.
Indeed, as of this morning, limited coalition air strikes had resumed over the city of Taiz in central Yemen, where Houthi rebels had captured a government compound. Militiamen in the south of Yemen reacted to the Saudi announcement by vowing to continue fighting until they had expelled the Houthis from their region. And tensions remained high, with the United States sending a carrier into the region and pointedly warning Iran, which had sent a flotilla bound for Aden, over the weekend—to stop arming the Houthis with weapons that could endanger shipping off Yemen’s coast.
Nevertheless, the prospects of all sides in the Yemen war entering into negotiations seem better than ever. Former Yemeni and Houthi ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh tweeted his hopes for a return to dialogue. And people familiar with the matter said Oman is working behind the scenes to host talks in Muscat between Saleh, ousted current Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Hadi, and the Houthis.