Is peace coming to Yemen?
Saudi Arabia has taken decisive steps to eliminate divisions among allied Yemeni forces and engage the Houthis.
by Imad K Harb19 hours ago
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have recently sent clear signals that they are ready to settle the Yemen conflict and their war with the Houthi insurgents. On November 10, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said that the Houthis are a part of Yemeni society and should have a role in its future. His statement came on the back of the UAE withdrawing its last forces from Aden and amounted to a declaration that Abu Dhabi has reconciled itself to the reality that Yemen’s conflict cannot have a military solution.
Saudi Arabia, too, is moving in the direction of de-escalation with the Houthis. Saudi officials and Houthi representatives are reported to be holding behind-the-scenes indirect talks mediated by Oman. It is hard to judge how fruitful such negotiations will be, since an earlier attempt in 2016 failed to bring peace. But the mere fact that the talks are taking place is a positive sign.
If allowed to bear fruit, the Saudi-Houthi negotiations could alleviate the dire situation in Yemen today. According to a recent report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED), over 100,000 Yemenis have died as a result of the Saudi-led intervention in 2015. Two-thirds of the civilian deaths caused by direct military action (around 8,000) have been the result of coalition air strikes. The Houthis also bear a responsibility for about 2,000 civilian casualties from direct targeting.
Without a political solution to the conflict, the humanitarian disaster in Yemen will continue to worsen and remain a source of instability not only for Saudi Arabia but for the entire Arabian Peninsula.