The peace deal, which is being implemented after a five-month lull, is seen by some as a significant move towards peace and window-dressing by others.

Yemen’s rebel Houthis began withdrawing from the port city of Hodaida as part of a peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden's Stockholm last year, a move that could end the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Yet some in the Saudi-backed government say the move is nothing but a ploy. 

Here’s what you need to know about the deal:

If successfully applied, it could improve millions of lives

A humanitarian crisis came to light again last year when the Saudi-led coalition expanded its blockade to all ports in the country, including the port city of Hodeidah, putting millions of Yemenis at risk of “the worst famine in decades”.

About 80 percent of the country’s humanitarian supplies, fuel and commercial aid runs through the Hodeidah. As such, government control of the Red Sea province would pave the way for them to retake the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. 

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been bombing the country since 2015, claims that blocking the ports would curb alleged arms-smuggling from Iran to the Houthis, but both Tehran and the rebels deny the claims. 

The blockade deprived two-thirds of the population, which is suffering its third major outbreak of cholera since the conflict began, from aid and vital supplies.

After the government attempted to recapture the port twice, the Saudi-led coalition agreed to allow in humanitarian aid in mid-December last year.

The UN says aid workers have been unable to reach vast stores of grain, enough to feed 3.7 million people for an entire month, for five months up until the Stockholm agreement went into implementation two days ago.

Government says deal is "a ploy"

The implementation of the deal took months because of mutual distrust. Some analysts say the parties still might not be fully committed to implementing it.

According to Rasha Jarhum, a Yemeni activist and director the Peace Track Initiative, the first step towards implementation was handing over the port to a mutually agreed entity or to the UN. 

“Handing over the Hodeidah ports to the coastguards who are also under Houthi control is not what the Stockholm agreement suggests; this is absurd,” she said in a tweet.

Hisham Al-Omeisy, another expert, shared a photo of coastguards shaking hands with Houthi fighters and said  “Houthis dressed in uniforms passed as coastguards ... UN cheering unilateral move that goes against Stockholm agreement, which clearly stipulates redeployment mutual.”

Some officials from the Saudi-backed government echoed the sentiment of distrust but the spokesman for the government's delegation to the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), Sadiq Dweid, said the pullout marked a real start to implementation.

The British ambassador to Yemen, however, commented said that it “is the first part of a broader redeployment process, which the government is adhering to.”

A step towards ending the four years of war

War began on March 25, 2015 after a Saudi-led coalition and eight other African and Middle eastern countries, including the United Arab Emirates, intervened in the country.

It came after Houthi rebels toppled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, capitalising on the unrest among frustrated Yemenis after the government decision to cut fuel subsidies.

While the coalition stepped in to support the ousted president Hadi and began conducting air strikes in 2015, Iran continued to support the Houthis, who have fired long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia and targeted vessels in the Red Sea.

Saudi-led bombing, often indiscriminate, has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians.

According to Yemeni officials, Yemen’s warring parties started fresh UN-sponsored talks in Jordan on Monday, two days after Houthi forces began withdrawing from the ports of Hodeidah.

Although the the fresh talks were praised as a step towards peace, the Saudi energy minister said that two Saudi oil-pumping stations were targeted in a drone attack on Tuesday morning.

Source: TRT World