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.
The officials say the kingdom took the decision ostensibly to protect Hadi and his government, but added that it was also made to appease the United Arab Emirates, its top ally, which is hostile to Hadi and opposed to his return. Saudi and UAE are the two major pillars of an Arab coalition battling Shiite Houthis rebels in Yemen under the pretext of restoring Hadi's legitimate government to power. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation.
"Millions will die" - that is the stark warning from the UN humanitarian chief over the crisis in Yemen. Now the UN warns that Yemen could face the largest famine the world has seen for many decades. It is urging the Saudi-led coalition to end its devastating blockade and allow aid into the country. So what are world leaders doing to stop this catastrophe?
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.