A Yemenite detainee celebrating with his relatives after being released from a Sanaa-government prison on 30 September 2019 (Photo Credit: AP /Hani Mohammed)
Official communication in Yemen and Saudi Arabia (KSA) reported on 13 October that delegations were dispatched to each other’s capitals to discuss the prisoner exchange portfolio.
A Saudi delegation arrived in Sanaa for a rare visit to the capital, for the first time since the Ansarallah movement took control of the city in 2014 and ended the reign of the Saudi-backed president.
A delegation representing Ansarallah also visited Riyadh and toured the prisons that are holding Yemeni fighters.
“Our technical team was tasked with validating the names and condition of our prisoners ahead of a possible exchange deal,” said Abdul Qadir al-Murtada, head of the prisoners’ committee in the Sanaa government.
Murtada added that the Saudi delegation visited for a similar purpose and toured Sanaa’s prisons, meeting the Saudi army’s prisoners of war (PoWs).
“The visits by the two technical teams was a goodwill initiative, and as part of a confidence-building effort to extend the armistice in Yemen,” announced the official spokesman for the coalition forces, Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki.
The spokesman added that the goal of the visit was not to normalize ties with Ansarallah, reiterating that its scope was limited to humanitarian issues, which would bear fruit in terms of economic and civil prosperity if comprehensive peace is achieved.
المتحدث باسم تحالف دعم الشرعية في اليمن العميد تركي المالكي: ملف الأسرى يحظى برعاية واهتمام من قيادة التحالف#العربية pic.twitter.com/MlE4auFnTG
— العربية (@AlArabiya) October 12, 2022
The third extension of the truce failed to see the light as Sanaa and Riyadh did not live up to each other’s demands, which were the preconditions for long-lasting peace.
“We do not accept a situation where Yemeni people are caught between war and peace,” Sanaa-based Yemeni foreign minister, Hisham Sharaf, said during a meeting with a UN representative on 11 October.
Sharaf added that Sanaa wants to lead the country away from any foreign tutelage or dictates, and refuses to accept the status quo which gives KSA the right to dictate operations at Yemen’s air and sea ports.
As a result, the Sultanate of Oman has intensified its efforts to find a middle ground for both warring parties to compromise, in a bid to avoid the resumption of hostilities in Yemen.
Al-Akhbar reported that Muscat’s efforts to achieve a breakthrough are very plausible under “heavy support” of the US and the UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg.
Earlier in April, Ansarallah unilaterally released 42 prisoners from the Saudi-backed coalition as a gesture of goodwill, after the conclusion of the month of Ramadan.
“We hope this humanitarian initiative would accelerate finalizing the conclusive exchange deal [that frees all prisoners from both sides],” said Murtada.
بتوجيهات من قائد الثورة السيد عبدالملك بدرالدين الحوثي( حفظه الله ) افرجنا اليوم عن 42 اسير من اسرى قوى العدوان كمبادرة انسانية من طرف واحد بمناسبة شهر رمضان المبارك واقتراب عيد الفطر.
ونأمل ان تسهم هذه المبادرة في تحريك ملف الاسرى والدفع نحو تنفيذ الاتفاق الاخير. pic.twitter.com/g0ShI2kIG0
— عبدالقادر المرتضى (@abdulqadermortd) April 23, 2022
During the past decade, Ansarallah has completed a series of successful prisoner swaps with all warring parties in Yemen, including Al-Qaeda.
The tribalism in Yemen and inter-family ties played a key role in the mediation efforts, leading to the completion of several swaps in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021, according to a report by a Sanaa-based think tank.
Ansarallah puts great emphasis on liberating its fighters from its enemy, due to the implications of delays on the tribes supporting the movement’s war efforts against the Saudi-led coalition.