Yemen Peace Talks: A Step towards Ending Long-Standing Conflict
A delegation of Houthi rebels recently held a series of discussions with Saudi Arabian officials in Riyadh, marking a significant development in the ongoing Yemen conflict. The five-day talks touched on key points, including a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Yemen, the payment of public servants’ salaries, the reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and the Sanaa airport, and plans for reconstruction.
These meetings were praised by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as a “moment of opportunity,” and the Saudi government expressed satisfaction with the positive outcomes of these discussions. However, despite a general decrease in violence in Yemen, UN officials caution that the situation remains delicate with active frontlines.
Efforts to End the Conflict
The U.S. special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, has been committed to ending the conflict, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and left 80% of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian aid. Since the truce agreement between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in April 2022, there have been significant humanitarian challenges and a substantial decrease in violence in Yemen. Lenderking remains optimistic about the situation, stating that the truce has led to an 18-month period of de-escalation with no cross-border attacks and an increase in commercial flights from the Sanaa airport.
However, Lenderking also acknowledges that these positive developments are not sufficient on their own. He urges that the efforts between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis transition to a UN-led process, moving beyond the truce into a durable ceasefire and Yemeni-Yemeni political talks. He believes that Yemen’s future must be decided not by outside powers or one party in Yemen, but by an inclusive Yemeni-Yemeni process with international backing.
International Support for Peace
Rashad Al-Alimi, chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council, has been present in several meetings involving the U.S. and the P3 (the three permanent members of the Security Council: U.S., U.K., and France). Lenderking sees Al-Alimi’s involvement as indicative of strong international support for his leadership. Al-Alimi has also called on the international community to stop the flow of arms and resources to the Houthi and ensure funds are directed towards recognized governmental financial institutions.
While the Saudi-Iran rapprochement might have played a role in bringing the warring Yemeni parties to the present point, Lenderking asserts that much of the groundwork for the truce was already in motion before the Chinese-brokered deal between the two Middle East rivals.
The recent talks between Houthi rebels and Saudi officials symbolize a crucial step towards ending the long-standing Yemen conflict. However, the situation remains delicate, and achieving a lasting peace will require the continued commitment of all parties involved, including international support and a shift towards a UN-led peace process. It is hoped that these talks will pave the way for a more peaceful and stable Yemen in the future.
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