COVID-19: Devastated Saudi Royal Family Seeks to End Yemen War

5th UPDATE: At least 150 members of the Saudi royal family have been infected and as a result Riyadh is seeking to end its five-year disastrous assault on Yemen.

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in 2018. (YouTube)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

As the coronavirus continues its assault on members of the Saudi royal family, the rulers of  the Kingdom on Wednesday called off its assault on Yemen.

The unilateral ceasefire will begin at noon on Thursday, Saudi time, and is to last at least two weeks. Its stated intention is to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Yemen. Under no existing modeling can a coronavirus outbreak be defeated in two weeks. 

Senior members of the royal family, including 84-year old King Salman, and the effective ruler, Muhammad bin Salman, have retreated to an island off the coast of Jeddah in the Red Sea. 

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the powerful governor of Riyadh who is a nephew to the king, is stricken with the disease and is in intensive care, The New York Times reported, citing two doctors “with ties” to King Faisal Hospital and two other sources near to the royal family. 

In all, 150 members of the ruling family are reported to have been infected. The Saudi government officially said it is seeking the ceasefire because of its fear that the virus could spread in Yemen, where there are still no reported cases. There are 3,287 cases in Saudi Arabia, with 44 deaths and 2,577 cases still unresolved.

The Times reported that Saudi officials want the ceasefire to “jump-start” UN brokered peace talks to end the war. Joining in the ceasefire would be the nations of the Saudi-led coalition as well as the Yemeni government in exile in the Saudi capital, the Times reported. Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said that peace talks would be held “under the supervision of the UN envoy to discuss his proposals on the steps and mechanisms to implement a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.” Al-Malki said the ceasefire could be extended to facilitate “a comprehensive political solution in Yemen.” 

The coalition further said in a statement:

“On the occasion of holding and succeeding the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen and to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people and work to confront the corona pandemic and prevent it from spreading, the coalition announces a comprehensive ceasefire for a period of two weeks, starting on Thursday.”

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a top Houthi official, tweeted an eight-page plan to end the war before the Saudi announcement.  The Houthis control the Yemeni capital Sanaa.  After the truce was to go into effect on Thursday, a Houthi spokesman claimed Saudi attacks continued. “The Saudis are still employing their air, land and naval forces to tighten the siege on Yemen … this is an announcement only to restore (their positions), to close ranks,” said Mohammed al-Bukhaiti.

The unilateral ceasefire could end a vicious five-year campaign by the richest nation in the Middle East against the poorest. It began on March 26, 2015 just as the UN was close to brokering a deal to end the political standoff, as the then UN envoy to Yemen told me at the time.   

Martin Griffiths, the current UN envoy, said in a statement: “The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency.”

The BBC reported that the two sides would communicate in a video conference to discuss the ceasefire. “The proposal calls for the halting of all air, ground and naval hostilities,” the British national broadcaster said.  

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged Houthis to “respond in kind to the coalition’s initiative.” The United States has backed the Saudi war with logistical and material support.

It is in the Saudis’ interests to stop a coronavirus outbreak in Yemen. Riyadh is spending $200 million a day on the war, with oil having fallen to below $30 a barrel. They have allied jihadis, and almost certainly intelligence agents operating inside Yemen, and Yemenis can find their way across the frontier.  On Wednesday, Yemen sealed its last remaining border crossing with Saudi Arabia to prevent a spread of the virus. 

An end to the conflict would come as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for a global ceasefire, in which he said some 70 nations have already signed on. Saudi Arabia would appear on Wednesday to have joined that list. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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49 comments for “COVID-19: Devastated Saudi Royal Family Seeks to End Yemen War

  1. TominAZ
    April 12, 2020 at 21:59

    If the royals went to hide offshore, they best hope the Houthi missiles don’t have that range. Because they showed they can hit where they aim. It would be almost too easy. As they say, jus’ sayin’.

  2. paul
    April 11, 2020 at 15:56

    This is just a cynical PR stunt by Bonesaw Bin Salman and the Saudi dictatorship.
    Now is not the time to ease up the pressure on the barbarous Saudi regime.
    It has bitten off more than it can chew in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and by its childish and self destructive attempts to manipulate the oil market. Its ludicrous grandiose economic plans and the failed Aramco sale are the final nails in the coffin.
    There is a golden opportunity to sweep away this vile regime for the benefit of all humanity.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    April 10, 2020 at 10:59

    Another COVID-19 silver lining??? Hope there will be many more…

  4. Liz
    April 10, 2020 at 09:19

    I’m absolutely sure they will. They don’t forget their corporate masters.

    April 10, 2020 at 08:39

    A Houthi spokesperson said that the air raids have not stopped.

    This is reported on Iran’s Press TV.

      April 10, 2020 at 13:50

      As it is reported above.

  6. Allan
    April 10, 2020 at 05:41

    Nice one,Bugs

  7. April 10, 2020 at 03:47

    ALLAS, if the richest are able to understand the miseries of poor children, women, disables and diseases in lock down during wars. Today when Royals are under Covid-19 coward war, and are under isolation and underlockdown, then they are in offer of unilateral truce with Yemen. The poorest Yemen and the Richest KSA, but cruelties are never favoured by ALLAH Almighty on HIS land.

  8. Coleen Rowley
    April 9, 2020 at 22:46

    Unfortunately PBS host Judy Woodruff reported tonight that the Houthis “dismissed the (Saudi) ceasefire as a ploy” (whatever that means). It’s 3rd news bit at pbs (dot) org/newshour/show/news-wrap-senate-democrats-block-white-house-request-for-more-aid

    • Joe Lauria
      April 10, 2020 at 02:56

      Sounds like an opening gambit from the Houthis in a UN-brokered negotiation that should start next week. This is the first Saudi unilateral ceasefire offer. What makes this hope of an end to the war different is the threat of the virus.

    • April 10, 2020 at 14:23

      This article presents the Houthi positions and the sneering attitude of our esteblishement


      BTW, Houthis released 80 POWs as a goodwill gesture. Nevertheless, KSA is emboldened by USA to keep seeking Yemen as their protectorate, with the only supplies allowed to be inspected in their ports and distributed to biometrically approved persons.

    • Broompilot
      April 11, 2020 at 00:03

      Unfortunately Judy Woodruff exists. In 2016 it became apparent that she is primarily a Clinton’s DNC propagandist and one of the Trump deranged. I watch that broadcast nearly every night to see how low show she will go. I’ve watched that newscast for nearly 30 years thinking I was getting unbiased, or reasonably unbiased coverage, only to find Woodruff near tears at the 2016 election results. Sickening that someone considers her some form of journalist. Every night you can watch Judy try to steer a guest into pointing the finger at “leadership” and then onto the President. She may as well have I HATE TRUMP SO MUCH YOU CANT BELIEVE IT tattooed on her forehead.

      What’s this got to do with Yemen you may rightfully ask? It’s that if Judy Woodruff is reporting on it, you may want to consider someone else’s version of the story.

  9. Pablo Diablo
    April 9, 2020 at 16:30

    Turns out that hubris is not a weapon.

  10. April 9, 2020 at 16:10

    official saudi reasons even more laughable than usual given how they reacted to massive cholera outbreak (by bombing red cross treatment facility)

  11. Gerard Panossian
    April 9, 2020 at 13:49

    If Jewish ,Christian and Muslim nations and their leaders don’t repent as the Bible says in :

    14 ” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

    There is no hope for humanity to survive the way it’s going on today .

    • Rey
      April 9, 2020 at 19:37

      Saudi the enemy of islam

    • April 9, 2020 at 22:34

      Did you fact check the bible verse?

    • Will Hunt
      April 9, 2020 at 23:42

      So the other 3 billion or so can watch this all transpire? Sounds exclusive! Sign me up!

  12. April 9, 2020 at 13:06

    Saudi kings are criminals and are responsible for the innocent deaths of Yemen’s people . Saudi kings must fear the Allah’s wrath and the bad prayers of Yemen’s people.
    Now the people of Saudi Arabia must raise their voice against the illegal war started by the king’s on the behest of western people particularly Israel and America.
    My advice to kings is to immediately stop war or face the Allah’s wrath.

  13. April 9, 2020 at 12:58

    As the world’s largest weapons dealer, the US sells 70% of all military weaponry sold worldwide. It’s our own damn fault if an economy based on death and destruction tanks in part due to killing being less profitable than previously.

  14. John Drake
    April 9, 2020 at 11:06

    Two week ceasefire, I am not holding my breath. As well mentioned in your excellent 2015 article the Saudi’s started the bombing just as peace was about to break out. The idea of peace and democracy is something the Saudis consider anathema. These are the people behind 9/11 and the extensive promulgation of the Wabbanist ideology along with support of Jihadi violence. I sure doubt that they care about disease in Yemen. I would expect they might welcome it; as evil as they are. What they are really up to remains to be seen.
    Meanwhile Karma seems to have struck the House of Saud.

    • Obadiah Ets
      April 9, 2020 at 14:06

      No doubt they don’t come more despicable than the house of Saud, well except for this troika of stooges in the Oval Office. What’s got them rankled is that all their wealth hasn’t shielded them from this virus. We’ll begin to see the Sunni Shia divide begin to close as the locus armies become united against Israel, it’s called Armageddon, while simultaneously we’re seeing gog and magog, chief prince meshach, Edom (Russia), Eze 38,39, lining up for hamon-gog against the House of Israel, that’s us. It isn’t coincidence that the arctic has thawed to the point that Russia not only rebuilt their 4 arctic bases, but built 9 new ones, with the world’s master railroad builders, China, having already built all new rail, and distribution hub for their logistics. Was it a year and a half ago the world’s largest war game exercise included Russia, China, and Mongolia. If you read you’ll see it isn’t us or Israel’s fight, no Father’s been looking to settle these scores, and show again just like in Egypt when He brought the 12 tribes out, that He is and shall always be on His throne, and as promised, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Before He brings the curtain down on this age 1 Cor 15:50-, we’re gonna have a visitor who’s going to punch the evangelicals rapture tickets, and the rest of the world will fall for this lying fake as well. In the Greek anti isn’t against, its instead of or fake.
      It is not man’s fate you fizzle out and perish on an earth that’s become too unstable climatically, nor destroyed by nuclear destruction, so the real question is what is going to happen? It’s all there, He wrote His children that letter long ago, but only the very few cared to read, study, pray, and watch. I share these truths in hopes of planting seeds. What man haven been given a candle or lamp covers it with a bushel basket brother, not I?

  15. Anonymot
    April 9, 2020 at 11:00

    Had they been smarter they would have ended this slaughter long ago. It’s rather like America’s various stupidities since 2008 in the Middle East. Intelligence loses, death wins.

    • Rob
      April 9, 2020 at 12:42

      Huh? Only since 2008. U.S. stupidity in the Middle East began long before then, even long before the Iraq War in 2003.

    • rosemerry
      April 9, 2020 at 15:26

      America’s stupidities and cruelty started a lot before 2008.
      Saudi and Israeli “friends ” of the USA cause most of the problems in the region.

    • b.grand
      April 11, 2020 at 02:22

      Rob and rosemerry,

      How about 1953? Works for me.

    • Zhu
      April 13, 2020 at 07:11

      Not just since 2008 but since 1950, if not before.

  16. Colin Royle
    April 9, 2020 at 10:24

    Sad day for the US (UK, Israel …) weapons manufacturers, which have grown wealthy selling death and destruction on the poorest of the poor in Yemen.
    Hopefully the US government will step up with a relief package for the US merchants of death – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon etc.; help them weather their losses and pain at this time of viral uncertainty.

    • Rob
      April 9, 2020 at 12:45

      Yes, I’m sure we can all feel the pain that the merchants of death must be experiencing.

  17. Tim Slater
    April 9, 2020 at 10:15

    Well, well … “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”, as the saying goes. But we will have to see what happens in two weeks’ time.

  18. Alan Ross
    April 9, 2020 at 10:10

    This reminds one of Poe’s The Masque of Read Death. Reality is stronger than any superpower.

  19. April 9, 2020 at 09:57

    A silver lining on that coronavirus cloud?

  20. Robert Sombillo
    April 9, 2020 at 09:50

    Praise the Saudi Royal family for voluntarily stopping attacks on Yemen Hope the two sides will agre to ebd the war,regardless what other nations say esp the ones selling arms.

    • Alan Ross
      April 9, 2020 at 17:40

      That reminds me of how a defense attorney might tell a judge his client only killed three of the four people listed on an indictment.

  21. Jon Adams
    April 9, 2020 at 09:32

    Some good comes from the virus. Genocide called off.

    • rosemerry
      April 9, 2020 at 15:30

      What a pity the USA cannot contemplate such a humane suggestion of stopping its illegal sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, Russia to help stop the COVID-19. Perhaps “national security” could have a real meaning of protecting the US population from REAL dangers, not “enemies” made by US policies.

  22. Horst Schmitt
    April 9, 2020 at 09:31

    Maybe the more intelligent members of the Royal House of Saud realized that the war on Jemen is only lucrative to weapon manufacturers?

    • April 9, 2020 at 16:09

      good point. western arms dealers saw an arrogant and exploitable young king and went for it. MBS wouldn’t have been allowed to grab all power if they didn’t approve.

  23. Pat Lally
    April 9, 2020 at 07:06

    Karma is a biatch. The saudis shouldn’t have attacked NYC.

    • Dianne Leonard
      April 9, 2020 at 13:48

      150 members of the Saudi ruling family have been infected. Couldn’t happen to a more awful, deserving group of people. As you say, karma’s a bitch. Crimes eventually catch up with the perps. As nice an example as I’ve ever seen of the principle that “religion kills.” (Today, the state of California is saying that 1/3 of our infection cases are attributable to churches.)

  24. April 9, 2020 at 02:50

    A ceasefire that maintains the siege of 20 million people is not a ceasefire. Notably, in Hodeida, which is under UN supervised ceasefire, the “coalition forces” did not allow to fill pools of stagnant water on the ceasefire line that were creating dengue fever epidemic. So-called coalition forces created the situation when Yemenis are starving and falling victim of cholera and other easily preventable diseases like dengue fever.

    There were several phony ceasefires in the past that cannot last for the simple reason that Sunni aristocrats from the Gulf area do not regard Yemenis as human beings, deserving dignity and self-determination instead of incompetent and malicious misrule directed from some hotel in Riyad. Israel has similar attitude to Palestinians in Gaza — complete with the blockade.

    • Michele
      April 9, 2020 at 11:19

      Thanks for that information… acting and reacting from love and in a spirit of peace too difficult? Must everything have a hidden addenda? Can we not simply love our neighbors as we love ourselves?

    • AnneR
      April 9, 2020 at 14:23

      Yes – so true, Piotr Berman. And – according to my reading of Press Tv or RT, this so-called ceasefire (to benefit the Saudian “royal” family, not, one notes, the general population in Saudia nor, most definitely the Yemenis of whatever religious affiliation) was breached by the Saudis all but as soon as the ink had dried. Bombing resumed.

      And as you point out – a blockade (siege) is still warfare and in Yemen, which has had for many years to import some 90% of its foodstuffs, let alone other necessary products, this is heinous, obscene and completely unforgivable. And on top of the Saudi-Emirati-NATO member bombing (or assistance for the bombing) of crucial water treatment plants, schools, hospitals, what farms there are….Meanwhile the western powers look on, unconcerned, revealing of their complete disregard for human life, their total lack of morals and ethics and humanity: their psychopathy.

  25. Toxik
    April 8, 2020 at 21:01

    and don’t let the door slam you on the way out.

  26. Jeff Harrison
    April 8, 2020 at 20:50

    Where’s the US?

    • Bugs
      April 9, 2020 at 12:23

      In North America. It’s a developing country between Mexico and Canada.

    • Gerald Englebretsen
      April 9, 2020 at 15:44

      That actually made me laugh out aloud Jeff Harrison

    • Jeff Harrison
      April 10, 2020 at 00:31

      ROTFLMAO. I ‘spec it looks a lot like a zit.

    • Zhu
      April 13, 2020 at 07:16

      Happily not invading the Arabian Peninsula.

Comments are closed.