Furry of political activities bring hope to Yemen

Despite the conflict escalating in Yemen with rebel Houthis targeting Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones and marching to Marib province, there has been a flurry of activities on the diplomatic and political front over the past few months.

Although the latest developments question the willingness and seriousness of the warring parties to establish peace in the war-torn country, the recently reported contacts between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the major external players in the conflict have raised hopes. The US President Joe Biden’s move of appointing Timothy Lenderking as a special envoy for Yemen in February has also seen an encouraging step.

There have been reports that Saudi and Iranian officials had held secret talks in Iraq recently, which were mediated by Iraq’s National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji, to ease tensions between the two sides.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Najib Ghanem, a Yemeni member of parliament said while there is no doubt Saudi Arabia and Iran can end the conflict in Yemen, but he urged them to address the root of the conflict, which includes delegitimizing Houthi-led coup.

He said that at the best the two parties can agree on a cease-fire for a certain period, but it certainly will not lead end of the war, as long as the causes of the conflict remain staring.

“Given the size of the Houthis’ human and military losses, they are supposed to favor the peaceful option to end the conflict. But they have proven to everyone that their losses are worthless because they believe that they have no choice but to continue the war,” he added.

But Olfat al-Dubai, an academician at Taiz University said a peaceful resolution remains an option, especially if it is based on the three references, that the UN and the regional countries are currently seeking to achieve in the light of the new American approach.

On March 25, on eve of the sixth anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen, Tariq Saleh, the nephew of Yemen’s late President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the head of the National Resistance Forces, backed by the UAE, announced forming a “political bureau” for his military forces.

-Emergence of more political groups

Further another notable development included various groups coming together in a bid to form National Salvation Front — an anti-Houthi group.

According to the Jamestown Foundation — a Washington-based defense policy think tank – the new front will be composed of a cross-section of emergent elites drawn from across Yemen.

According to insiders the core goals of this alliance will be to restore state institutions within a federal framework and put an end to foreign interference in Yemen across the board.

Many observers believe that Saleh’s establishing a political bureau is an attempt to make sure that his presence is not ignored at the negotiating table.

“The bureau’s goals are still ambiguous. We do not know why the forces under Saleh’s command are still separated from the national army, as is the situation for the rest of the military groups that are established and financed by the UAE,” said Ghanem.

Analysts believe that so far three UN special envoys failed to bring two warring parties to sit across the table. They are skeptical that with more political groups now entering into the fray, it will be more exhausting to make them agree on any compromise.

“Any new political component that wants to be part of any potential political process will have no prove its worth to claim a seat in either the government’s delegation or on the Houthis side,” said Dubai.

Observers apprehend that the longer the war continues in Yemen, more and more groups will emerge, thus making a settlement difficult.

– Negotiation to center around federal structure

Dubai said negotiation should center around forming a federal structure in which all parties will have a say. “It will be more difficult to find a solution to this war by returning to the previous arrangement,” he said.

The US administrations, be that under Barack Obama, Donald Trump or Joe Biden have seen the Yemen crisis through the prism of broader Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

Last week, both the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee arranging a hearing to examine Washington’s policy toward Yemen.

During the hearing, Lenderking described Saudi Arabia as a “partner” and called Iran a “terrorist” regime describing its support for Yemen’s Houthi movement as “quite significant and lethal”.

However, working with these two countries seems to be the only possible solution to end the war in Yemen.

A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN described Lenderking’s remarks as “unsubstantiated” and dined providing any military support to Houthis.

“The US should leave the matter of finding a resolution to the senseless conflict in the capable hands of the regional countries,” the spokesman said.

– Talks between Saudi and Iran encouraging

Dubai, however, suggests that direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, under the auspices of the US, will inevitably have a positive effect on accelerating the peace process, especially after it is proven that the local Yemeni parties are unable to take any decision.

During the hearing, when asked by Senator Chris Van Hollen, about reports of dialogue between Saudi and Iranian officials, Lenderking said he was still to learn more about these meetings, but acknowledged that they can help in reducing tensions.

Two weeks ago, Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzade, said the reports about the Tehran-Riyadh talks had carried “contradictory quotes”.

“What is important is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is that it has always welcomed dialogue with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and considers it in the interest of the people of the two countries, as well as peace and stability in the region,” he said, without providing further details.

Source: Anadolu Agency