After a week of U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Sweden last month, the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed Yemen government forces reached a ceasefire deal on Hodeidah, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial goods and aid, and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation.
Since the war in Yemen began last year, getting permission to enter the country has become a complex process. A recent call to the country's embassy in D.C. was fruitless on the visa front but concluded with a recommendation: "You really must try Yemen Café, in Brooklyn. They have all the best Yemeni food there." The friendly advice of a diplomatic official is usually ignored to the detriment of the advisee, so a trip to Cobble Hill, on whose northern extremities the café perches, amid a cluster of Middle Eastern shops and restaurants, was soon conceived. Yemen Café has three rows of tables, at the end of which a television screen beams images of the owners' home country: green rolling hills, the majestic mosques and towers of Sana'a, a traditional dagger, or janbiya.
The grievous human cost of the Saudi-led war in Yemen has jumped to the top of the global agenda as the outcry over the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi prompts Western leaders to re-examine their support for the war. Recently, the United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia's biggest arms suppliers, called for a cease-fire in Yemen. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said it should take effect within 30 days. "We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can't say we are going to do it some time in the future," Mr. Mattis said on Tuesday. Riveting images of malnourished Yemenis like Amal -- one of 1.8 million severely malnourished children in Yemen -- have put a human face to fears that a catastrophic man-made famine could engulf the country in the coming months.