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A Yemeni youth during a celebration in September. Photo: Ahmad Al-Bash/AFP/Getty Images

Experts tell Axios the call from Secretaries Mattis and Pompeo this week for a cease-fire in Yemen within 30 days could change the direction of the war, but only if followed by more significant steps.

Between the lines: The war in Yemen has torn the country apart, and pressure has been mounting on the Trump administration to reconsider its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Those cries were mostly ignored until the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, an event that raised significant questions about the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It's still unclear, though, whether the recent statements signal a lasting shift in the U.S. approach to the war.

What they're saying:

  • Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Intelligence Projectand longtime CIA employee: "This is an important change in American policy, calling for an end to hostilities, but it is only a first step. The administration will need to follow up with a robust effort to press the Saudis to end the war with or without the Houthis cooperating."
  • Perry Cammack, a former State Department official and fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "The 30-day Mattis and Pompeo ultimatum is highly welcome and long overdue. The considerable military, logistical and intelligence support the Trump administration provides to Saudi Arabia gives it considerable leverage at a moment when the despicable murder of Jamal Khashoggi has back-footed Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. But is President Trump willing to use this leverage to force a change [in] Saudi calculations?"
  • Aaron David Miller, Middle East Program Director at the Wilson Center: "Seriousness and breakthrough in U.S. policy on Yemen depends on how much leverage we're prepared to use. ... Ending air war will buy time for talking and save lives. It will not settle the crisis or fix Yemen."
  • Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Diplomat in Residence at Southern Methodist University: "[The Mattis and Pompeo statements] suggest that American patience with this war has almost run out. ... [The Saudis] have less leverage, however, right now than they’ve had recently because of the Khashoggi episode. ... The war is a major embarrassment to the Crown Prince. He has a lot invested here, and at some point they can have a peace conference and declare victory, but they’re going to have to give the Houthis some kind of political rights."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Trump's volatile return to the stock market

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Donald Trump this week became both a meme stock and a social-media entrepreneur at the same time, by announcing that a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group was going to merge with an existing company listed on the stock market.

Why it matters: The medium-term promise of Trump's media company is that it will replace Twitter for anybody wanting to keep track of Trump's messages. The short-term promise is that it can be a hot new speculative vehicle for people wanting to get rich quick in the stock market.

Updated 11 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

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