In a move welcomed by all sides, the Saudi-led coalition decides to release 200 Houthi prisoners and allow wounded Houthis to be treated abroad, throu
200 Houthi prisoners to be released from Saudi-led coalition, with medical flights through Sana
Saudi Arabia wants to avoid the collapse of the truce with the Houthis and announces the release of 200 Houthi prisoners and the opening of Sana'a airport for the transport of patients abroad.
When UN Secretary-General special envoy Martin Griffiths' arrived in Sanaa earlier this week to meet with Houthi leaders, he was not met with the normally warm reception. In an unusual turn of events, Griffiths did not meet with Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, but rather with Mahdi al-Mashat, the group's political council chief, and the Houthi foreign minister. Al-Mashat told the envoy "It has been a long time since our initiative to stop targeting Saudi Arabia and we have not found any practical response from the other side."
Al-Mashat said that allowing there-opening of Sana’a airport, which has been closed since the beginning of the war in 2015, was the least the Saudi-led coalition could do as a gesture of good-will in support of the truce. .
On the 20th of September, the Houthis announced an initiative to stop targeting Saudi Arabia, days after the group claimed responsibility for an attack on Saudi soil. The veracity of the attack has led Saudi Arabia to question the group's negation of it being supported militarily by Iran.
Griffiths left Sanaa on Monday without making any public statements. In turn, Houthi media reported that the envoy was leaving with no new achievements, and that they would resume their attacks on Saudi soil.
Griffiths is believed to have gone to Sana’a with the aim of saving the fragile truce between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia in light of recent developments in Al-Mocha. Griffiths' visit coincides with an escalation in tensions in the coastal city of Al-Mocha, near Hodeidah. After the city was hit with sporadic rocket attacks in recent weeks, damaging, among other things, an MSF-run health facility, the Saudi’s resumed aerial bombardment of the city. Saudi-led coalition forces claim their air-defence systems intercepted several ballistic missiles and drones in and arond Al-Mocha. The Saudi-led coalition then responded with a raid campaign, launching some 20 raids in Hodeidah to track rocket launchers, the largest number in a single day since the Stockholm agreement a year ago.
Despite these tensions, today Saudi Arabia announced the release of 200 Houthi prisoners and the partial re-opening of flights through Sanaa airport for the transport of patients abroad, in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Saudi Arabia has shown an undeclared desire to sustain the truce with the Houthis after the Aramco attacks in August, decreasing air strikes on Sanaa and other areas under Houthi control. It seems, however, that for the Houthis, this is not enough.