The war in Yemen can be stopped because the warring sides still support a U.N. peace deal brokered in Stockholm last December, U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday.
The four-year war between the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and a Saudi-backed coalition supporting the Yemeni government has killed many tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine.
“I believe that this war in Yemen is eminently resolvable,” Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.
“Both parties continue to insist that they want a political solution and the military solution is not available. They remain committed to the Stockholm agreement in all its different aspects.”
He said that while the Stockholm agreement was taking some time to be implemented, both sides saw it as a gateway to opening up negotiations on a political solution, and the international community supported the deal.
Last week a meeting between the warring sides, on the neutral ground of a U.N. ship in the Red Sea, brought a surprise breakthrough, with agreement on technical aspects of a ceasefire deal in the flashpoint port of Hodeidah.
Griffiths said those talks had made more progress than he had expected, reaching operational agreements on troop withdrawal plans under the Stockholm deal, which envisages a U.N.-backed team taking over management of the port as the two armies pull back.
There were several issues that remained unresolved, including how to handle the port’s revenue and governance, and how to handle local security forces, Griffiths said.
He said he also took heart from the movement of coalition forces out of Yemen.
Last month, the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, began scaling back its military presence, Western diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Griffiths said it was a very deliberate push towards a commitment to peace.
The peace process was still vulnerable to a “detonation” such as attacks on Saudi infrastructure which could open up a regional conflict, he said, adding that he was attempting to de-escalate things before they reached that point.