Major Saudi-led combat operations against Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen, which began nearly a year ago, are “coming to an end,” the spokesman for the military coalition reportedly said.
The coalition will focus on “long-term” plans to bring stability to Yemen, Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya quoted the Saudi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Asseri, as saying.
Gen. Asseri reportedly said, “The major fighting in Yemen is nearing an end … [and] the next phase is a stage of restoring stability and reconstructing the country.”
The Saudi channel did not provide additional details, and the general could not immediately be reached for comment, reports Reuters.
Asseri emphasized that the Saudi-led coalition will “stand by the legitimate Yemeni government and offer support until it is able to restore stability in the country.”
The internationally recognized government’s military team and the Arab coalition will stay behind and help rebuild public institutions that have been demolished by the Houthis, indicated Yemeni Deputy Commander of the forces Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, according to Arabiya.
“In Taiz, hundreds of families were seen returning to the city with shops and everyday life returning to normal after months of destruction by the militias,” notes the Saudi channel.
The coalition’s goal is to also restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power in the capital Sanaa.
“Asseri and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir have in recent days said that any peace talks can only take place between Hadi and the Houthis, and through the U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed,” notes Reuters.
“More than 6,000 Yemenis, about half of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting and airstrikes over the past year, the United Nations says,” it adds. “Millions more have been displaced.”
A resurgent al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has capitalized on the deadly civil war in Yemen, emerging as the strongest jihadist group in the country while a Saudi-led coalition concentrates on defeating the Houthis and the West focuses on the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of providing military support to the Houthis, an allegation denied by the Shiite group.
The Yemen-based AQAP, considered the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda, is enjoying a rapid resurgence, taking control of much of southern Yemen.