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Houthi fighters take cover. Photo: Stringer/Getty Images

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has announced a two-week ceasefire in support of a UN-led peace initiative, AP reports.

Why it matters: There's little to show for five years of war in Yemen beyond one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises, which would only deepen in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. Sources told Reuters the virus was a driving factor behind the ceasefire, which could pave the war for peace talks in the coming days.

The backstory: The Houthis overthrew Yemen's Saudi-aligned president in late 2014, after which Saudi Arabia and several allies began a fierce bombing campaign.

  • The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, waged with American-made weapons, has been widely criticized internationally due to its high civilian death toll and massive humanitarian crisis that has put millions on the brink of famine.
  • Despite efforts in Congress to suspend U.S. support to the coalition, the Trump administration has continued to back the Saudis, in part due to links between the Houthis and Iran.
  • Back-channel talks last year between the Saudis and Houthis had led to a reduction in violence, though casualties have spiked recently, per AP.

The latest: The Saudi proposal envisions "a nationwide ceasefire, including halting all air, ground and naval hostilities, and for the parties to ensure compliance by forces on frontlines," per Reuters.

  • The Houthi position on the offer is not yet known, though a spokesman had previously said the group had presented the UN with a framework for "a political dialogue and a transitional period" in the country.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."