A truce in Yemen?

The Yemeni government announced yesterday that it "does not view any objection" to suspending military operations against the Houthi rebels if the rebels will do the same. The rebels appear to have responded positively.

The "suspension" offer came into effect at 9am on Friday, with no specified time limit, and its stated aim is to allow humanitarian aid to reach the affected areas. The UN's latest report on the humanitarian situation, issued on Thursday, ishere.

There have been no further reports of fighting* but how long that will last is anybody's guess. However, the government has dug itself into a hole with "Operation Scorched Earth" and "suspending" operations as a goodwill gesture towards the thousands made hungry and homeless could provide a face-saving exit strategy.

The Houthi conflict has been an on-off-on affair since it started five years ago and, even if the truce holds, it is doubtful whether the Yemeni government is willing or able to resolve the underlying problems without a lot of international help and cajoling.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 5 September 2009.

* Late news: Al-Arabiya is reporting that Houthi rebels broke the ceasefire early on Saturday morning.

Further update: It's very clear now (11.00 BST) that the truce has broken down. Military sources say dozens were killed and wounded on both sides during violent clashes overnight in Malaheez and Harf Sufyan.

Humanitarian situation: The UN report which I linked to above says the estimated number of IDPs in the Saudi border area is 100,000-150,000. The UNHCR has issued a correction: it should say 100-150 families.