On Thursday, Yemen’s official news agency reported that the internationally recognized government is ready to exchange all prisoners with the Houthi group on the basis of the “all-for-all” principle. The presidency’s decision had been delivered by Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Saleh Al Ahmar to the Deputy Head of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Muin Shreim, during the meeting held between the two officials in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
In the meeting, where efforts to ensure comprehensive peace in Yemen was addressed, the Yemeni Vice President reportedly highlighted his country’s support for the UN efforts to bring an end the war in Yemen. Saleh reportedly stated, “Yemeni government is ready to cooperate on the file of prisoners, abductees, and forcibly disappeared persons, and to implement an all-for-all agreement.”
Defining the issue as an absolutely humanitarian matter, Saleh emphasized that the prisoner exchange file must be excluded from any exploitation, blackmail, or bartering exercised by the Iranian-backed group. While any immediate comment on the issue has not been made yet by the Houthis, the group had expressed on July 4 that they are ready to exchange all prisoners with the government.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi group reached an agreement on the prisoner exchange issue in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement, which was signed on December 13, 2018, in the Swedish capital. However, the implementation of the relevant article has been interrupted due to reciprocal accusations by both sides.
In October, the Hadi government and the Houthi group exchanged 1.056 prisoners in total from both sides, including 15 Saudis and 4 Sudanese. Lasting a total of two days, the prisoner swap was supervised by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The two sides maintain arms conflict, concentrated on Marib, which is the last stronghold of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. The latest reports have indicated that the military escalation has also spread to the Al Bayda governorate located in the southwest of the war-torn country.