A Look Into Challenges Of Peace Talks In Yemen
Yemen’s peace talks, in addition to the country’s internal disputes and problems, are tied to a regional war between the US-allied Saudi coalition and the Iranian-led resistance axis. The emphasis of the leaders of the Arab countries on the three references, the arrogant resolution of the United Nations Security Council and the dependence of the resigned government of Mansour Hadi on the Saudi coalition are the most important obstacles to solving the crisis in Yemen, which is expected with the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing, the dialogue to resolve these disputes will be opened.
Let’s scrutinize why the nature of the resigned government of Yemen is illegal and the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen are considered an invasion.
A few days ago, the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi, the Secretary-General of the council, traveled to the city of Aden in Yemen. This trip was the first visit by officials of this council to Yemen after 2014. In this meeting, Al-Budaiwi emphasized an issue that is the root cause of the crisis and lack of progress in Yemen’s negotiations, and that issue is nothing but the three references.
The three references include the 2011 [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, and national dialogues recognized by Arab countries as a reference for resolving the Yemeni crisis. However, these references are not solution to the Yemeni crisis but have become a major obstacle to advancing peace negotiations. To clarify the aspects of these three references, we explain them in general:
1- The 2011 [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council initiative:
This [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council initiative was presented on April 3, 2011, by the United States and Saudi Arabia to resolve the Yemeni crisis. This initiative is also known as the “Gulf Initiative,” according to which Ali Abdullah Saleh, the then-president of Yemen, was given a 30-day deadline to step down and transfer power to his deputy, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Mansur Hadi also had 60 days to form an interim government and prepare the ground for power transfer through elections. This initiative did not end with the resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi became the president of Yemen with the support of Arab countries in a one-person election. The seizure of power by the Yemeni revolution and the intervention of Arab countries in the affairs of this country provoked the anger of the Yemenis and led the Ansar Allah movement fighters towards capital Sanaa. Eventually, the Ansar Allah forces entered Sanaa by breaking the defensive lines of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s supporters and took control of the government. After the unsuccessful political negotiations between the two sides, Mansur Hadi went to parliament on January 22, 2015 and resigned from his position. A month after his resignation, he was interrogated by intelligence and judicial authorities and finally fled from the presidential palace in Sanaa to Aden on February 21, 2015. This move was followed shortly with an invasion by the Saudi-led coalition, which complicated the political crisis in Yemen with the foreign invasion.
2- United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216:
On April 14, 2015, the United Nations Security Council, without mentioning the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion of Yemen, declared the prohibition of sending any weapons to the Ansar Allah fighters and Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces in a resolution. This resolution also called on the Ansar Allah movement to hand over power and retreat from Sanaa as well as other cities in Yemen. The UN Security Council also approved the inspection of all ships heading to the war-stricken Arab country. It also banned travel for Abdul-Malik Badruldeen al-Houthi as well as Ahmed, the senior son of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
3- National dialogues:
Following the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion of Yemen, Yemeni national dialogues in Sanaa were halted, and prominent factions such as the al-Islah Party (Yemeni Congregation for Reform), and southern parties and so on, could raise the banner of opposition to the central government in Sanaa due to the support they received from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other Arab countries. Following negotiations by the Ansar Allah movement in Sanaa, various political parties that were led by the General People’s Congress under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh united with the Yemeni National Salvation Government. This move weakened the opposition; so, the Ansar Allah movement, after months of heavy defense, was able to repel the Saudi-led coalition’s attacks on Sanaa and Al Hudaydah Governorate in a short period as well as cleanse a large part of the areas under the control of the Yemeni government in Marib, Al Jawf, Saada, and Al Hudaydah governorates.
Over the recent years, many events, such as Ali Abdullah Saleh’s betrayal of the Ansar Allah movement, the Stockholm Agreement, the assassination of Saleh Ali al-Samad, the head of the Supreme Political Council of the National Salvation Government, etc., have changed the course of developments in the Arab country. However, none of these events, like the Ansar Allah’s missile-drone operations against deep areas in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, had a significant impact on peace negotiations, and ultimately a UN-mediated ceasefire between the Ansar Allah movement and the Saudi-led coalition was established in April 2022.
Despite the establishment of a ceasefire and the Ansar Allah’s efforts to engage in talks with the Islah Party and southern factions in various incidents, intra-Yemeni political dialogue have not been held at any time or place. The main reason for this is the opposition groups’ dependence on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as recent US interventions in Yemen’s developments.
Therefore, the three references are chiefly a hindrance to peace negotiations and the unity of different groups in Yemen rather than a solution to the Yemeni crisis. The [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council’s initiative can be seen as direct interference in the affairs of an independent country, and UN Security Council Resolution 2216 is interpreted as supporting Arab and Western countries’ goals in Yemen. When a political figure speaks against the three references, it can be inferred that there is no intention to resolve the Yemeni crisis, and some are trying to escalate the war in the country.
In addition to these issues, there are numerous obstacles to Yemeni negotiations that prevent them from reaching a conclusion. These obstacles include US pressure on Saudi Arabia, the United Nations’ involvement in Yemen’s internal affairs, the dependence of Yemeni factions on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the separatist tendencies of some southern parties with British support, the presence of terrorist groups particularly Al-Qaeda in occupied areas, the disregard of global powers such as Russia and China for Yemen’s developments, internal issues such as the lack of payment of salaries to Yemeni employees from oil revenues, and the ongoing blockade of Yemen.
As a result of preventing the Ansar Allah movement from exporting Yemen’s oil and gas, the resigned government’s budget has reportedly faced a 50% deficit, which will put significant financial pressure on their Saudi and Emirati supporters. International organizations under the auspices of the United Nations, especially the World Food Program, have also significantly reduced their aid to Yemen, forcing UN representatives to hold a special session in New York to collect humanitarian assistance.
Overall, Yemeni peace negotiations, in addition to internal differences and challenges, have become entangled in a more significant regional issue. The success of the Shia Muslims in gaining control of the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion of the Arab country with Western support led to Yemen becoming a proxy war between Iran and the United States. Nowadays, this war has entered a new phase with the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has led to the resolution of some issues such as the maritime and aerial blockade of Yemen. However, fundamental differences remain, and there is still a long way to go in starting discussions on the formation of a united government and the path to achieving lasting peace.