Home Mid-East Yemen war: Mattis and Pompeo urge swift ceasefire

Yemen war: Mattis and Pompeo urge swift ceasefire


A Yemeni member of a school administration inspects the damage on the first day of the new academic year on September 16, 2018, at a school that was damaged last year in an air strikeImage copyright
Getty Images

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Air strikes have caused widespread damage and many civilian casualties

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both called for a swift cessation of hostilities in Yemen.

Mr Mattis said the US wanted to see all sides around the negotiating table and an end to air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition it supports within 30 days.

Separately, Mr Pompeo said UN-led negotiations to help end the three-year war should resume next month.

The UN says the conflict has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Last week, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned that half of the country’s population – about 14 million people – were entirely reliant on external aid for survival and were “pre-famine conditions”.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is under growing pressure over its logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led coalition, which is backing the Yemeni government in its battle against the rebel Houthi movement.

The murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has intensified the focus on the US-Saudi relationship.

What have the US officials said?

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington on Tuesday, Mr Mattis said the US had been watching the conflict “for long enough”.

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Media captionThe UN says Yemen is on the brink of the world’s worst famine in 100 years if the war continues

“We have got to move towards a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it some time in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days,” he said.

He added that all sides were being urged by the US to meet UN special envoy Martin Griffiths in Sweden in November and “come to a solution”.

In a separate statement, Mr Pompeo called for all coalition air strikes in Yemen’s populated areas to stop. He also urged Houthi rebels to cease firing ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia.

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Media captionAftermath of an attack that shocked the world

“It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction,” he said.

Mr Pompeo said peace talks planned by Mr Griffiths for November would aim to “implement confidence-building measures to address the underlying issues of the conflict, the demilitarisation of borders and the concentration of all large weapons under international observation”.

Why is there a war in Yemen?

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015, when Houthi rebels seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

At least 6,660 civilians have been killed and 10,563 injured in fighting since then, according to the UN. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition has also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have affected a million people.

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