Yemeni pro-government forces on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida on November 13, 2018. Photo: Saleh Al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images

A senior Houthi leader announced last night that the rebel fighters would halt military operations against the Saudi-led coalition. Hours later, Yemen’s internationally recognized government signaled that it’s ready to take part in peace talks. And this afternoon, the UN Security Council took up a draft resolution to support the talks.

Why it matters: Yemen’s civil war has cost the lives of as many as 10,000 civilians and created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. It has also become a flash point for conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran that threatens regional stability.

Details: The UNSC resolution also calls for emergency measures to stave off the massive famine in Yemen, including:

  • A cease fire in the port city of Hodeidah, the gateway for food and other relief
  • A two-week deadline for parties to remove all obstacles to humanitarian aid
  • A rapid injection of donations into the Central Bank of Yemen to allow for pensioners and civil servants to be paid

Where it stands: While it is too early for optimism, external pressure may be creating an opportunity to end the war.

  • Last week, the Saudi-led coalition slowed its offensive into Hodeidah in response to the U.S. decision to cut off aerial refueling for the Saudi bombing campaign. This paved the way for the Houthi cessation of missile attacks and, in turn, for the parties to enter talks.
  • The U.K.’s foreign secretary is now in Iran — the Houthi’s foreign patron — in a bid to secure Tehran’s support for the UN peace process.

What’s needed: Outside pressure will also be essential for making progress on the humanitarian front.

  • If the draft UN resolution passes and the parties comply with its terms, it may yet be possible to stave off the worst of the massive famine that threatens to engulf up to 14 million Yemenis. But military operations in Hodeida must cease and humanitarians will need full access to the port city.

The bottom line: The Trump administration must be ready to rachet up pressure for compliance, perhaps by threatening to withhold intelligence and logistical support for coalition forces. They have so far resisted these steps, but bipartisan congressional pressure had already been building and has spiked since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Hardin Lang is vice president for programs and policy at Refugees International.

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines
  4. Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  5. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  6. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  7. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  8. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The 2020 holiday season may just kill Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Online retail and e-commerce have been chipping away at brick-and-mortar businesses over the years but the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 holiday season may prove to be a knockout blow.

State of play: Anxious consumers say financial concerns and health worries will push them to spend less money this year and to do more of their limited spending online.

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move that comes days after NAID director Anthony Fauci said he had "strong confidence" in FDA-approved vaccines could cast further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy.