ADEN -- The Iran-backed Houthis on Sunday (October 2) let a truce with Yemen's government expire, while issuing renewed threats against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), raising fears of a return to war.
United Nations (UN) Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg pledged "relentless efforts" to reinvigorate the truce agreement, which lapsed Sunday after bringing a sharp reduction in clashes since it came into force April 2.
The Houthis on Saturday rejected Grundberg's plan to extend the truce to six months and to expand it to new areas of agreement.
Grundberg's proposal included paying the salaries of government employees; opening routes into the city of Taez, which is under Houthi blockade; and expanding commercial flights from Houthi-controlled Sanaa.
It proposed allowing more fuel ships into al-Hodeidah port, which is controlled by the Houthis; releasing detainees and resuming an "inclusive" political process to tackle economic issues, including public services.
In a Saturday statement, the Houthis said the ceasefire in Yemen was at "a dead end", and demanded revenues from Yemen's oil and gas resources, according to Houthi-controlled media outlets.
In a show of strength seen as a violation of the spirit of the truce, thousands of Houthi fighters paraded through Sanaa with drones and missiles on September 21, the eighth anniversary of the group's coup.
Three weeks earlier, they staged a similar display in al-Hodeidah.
Houthis 'opt for war'
Yemeni government sources on Monday reported Houthi attacks south of Marib, the government's last northern stronghold and key to Yemen's oil resources.
Houthi shelling also was reported in the city of Taez, under blockade since 2016.
The Houthis have carried out a number of drone and missile attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a major coalition partner.
In a renewed threat to the two Gulf states, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree warned oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE "to organise their situation and leave", in Sunday post on Twitter.
There was no immediate word from Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, but Yemen's government urged the UN Security Council to deal "firmly" with the Houthis over their "latest threats" and refusal to extend the truce.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik said the Houthis, and Iran behind them, "have opted for war", while Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said the government was not surprised at the Houthis' refusal to extend the truce.
"The Houthi militia has obstructed efforts to extend the truce, and hasn't given priority to the Yemeni people's interests," he said, noting that the group had not complied with the terms of the truce while it was in effect.
Although the truce extension would be in the Houthis' interest, Deputy Minister of Justice Faisal al-Majeedi said, they deliberately thwarted efforts to extend it.
"There's no doubt that the Houthis' obstruction of efforts to extend the humanitarian truce is intrinsically linked to Tehran," he added. "The Houthis have proven they are an Iranian party, not a Yemeni party."
Aid groups raise alarm
Sanaa administrative district human rights office director general Fahmi al-Zubairi blamed the Houthis for the failure of the truce extension, saying they had demanded impossible conditions, despite the government's concessions.
"According to the UN, the war, which has now entered its eighth year, has created the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history," he said.
"The terms of truce are aimed at delivering the aid and alleviating the difficult humanitarian suffering in the country."
Aid groups have raised the alarm for the long-suffering people of Yemen, including 23.4 million Yemenis who are dependent on humanitarian aid.
"Over the past six months, the truce had given millions of people in Yemen respite from fighting and hope for a more lasting settlement of the conflict," said International Committee of the Red Cross regional director Fabrizio Carboni.
"We call on all parties to keep the dialogue open and put the needs of the Yemeni people first," he said.
Oxfam International warned against the resumption of hostilities, saying it would further compound the crisis and undermine efforts to establish peace.
"The end of the truce is terrible news for the people of Yemen," Oxfam country director in Yemen Ferran Puig said. "Millions will now be at risk if air strikes, ground shelling and missile attacks resume."
"The past six months have brought hope to millions of Yemenis who have seen a 60% decrease in casualties, a significant reduction in violence, more fuel imports and much easier access to essential services and aid," he said.
Yemenis feel the impact
At gas stations in Sanaa and other Houthi-controlled areas, long lines of vehicles formed as Yemenis feared a return of the strangling fuel crisis that they faced before the announcement of the humanitarian truce on April 2.
"In the morning, citizens were anxiously waiting for the announcement of a truce extension," economist Abdul Aziz Thabet told Al-Mashareq.
"But at midday, when there was no announcement of the extension, citizens were in panic, fearing a fuel crisis similar to the one that preceded the announcement of the truce," he said.
"A renewed fuel crisis means more suffering for Yemenis and price increases on all products due to the rising cost of transportation and irrigation," he added.
"This will increase the suffering of Yemenis and compound their humanitarian situation."