Significant Yemen Prisoner Exchange Said Imminent
Close to 1,000 soldiers and others are expected to be freed in a prisoner swap between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, according to sources involved in United Nations-sponsored talks taking place in Switzerland. The Houthis dislodged the government from the capital Sanaa some five years ago, at which point a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states launched a war against the Shi’ite rebels. Fighting has left the country with rampant shortages of food and medicine, and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of non-combatants. In a tweet, Mohammed Ali-al-Houthi, a senior rebel, said: “What matters is implementing the prisoner exchange and not just signing it.” The talks in Switzerland are aimed at a more comprehensive agreement encompassing a total cease-fire and possible peace negotiations. So far, much of the work has been devoted to the building of trust, as with the prisoner exchange, which will be facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The warring sides have freed prisoners unilaterally in the past.