Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare

The Real Roots of the Conflict, by Asher Orkaby, for Foreign Affairs

On February 20, 2015, as the residents of Sanaa prepared for evening prayers, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put on a woman’s niqab and slipped out the back door of his official residence, where a car was waiting for him. For a month, Houthi rebels, who had taken Sanaa in late 2014, had been holding him under house arrest. By the time the guards noticed that he was gone, Hadi had reached the relative safety of the southern port of Aden. A month later, as Houthi forces advanced south, he fled again, this time to Riyadh, where he called on Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.

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New initiative proposed by UN envoy to resolve Yemen crisis

Article for AhramOnline by Ahmed Eleiba

An initiative for a Yemeni political settlement has been presented to the Houthi faction and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh loyalists, a source close to Saleh told Ahram Online.
The written initiative was presented to the two allied factions by UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who visited the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday, according to the source.

“The UN envoy left before receiving a final reply in hopes that he will be back in a few weeks to prepare a fresh round of talks for a settlement if an initial approval is given,” the source said.

The new initiative includes six main points, the first of which is for Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hady to be recognised as a transitional president with limited authority, and the appointment of a vice president agreed upon by all involved factions and who is to be based in the capital Sanaa, currently under Houthi control.

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Yemen at the UN - August 2016 Review

Article by Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies

United Nations-mediated peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict in Yemen stalled during the month of August, while divisions regarding Yemen became increasingly apparent at the UN Security Council and violence escalated around the country.

The negotiations between the warring parties, held in Kuwait, ended in early August over an impasse regarding so-called “sequencing concerns” related to the UN-sponsored peace plan; these were essentially a disagreement over whether the Houthi rebels and allied forces should be required to cede capture territory and disarm before, or after, their place in a new unity government was established.

In an effort to break the impasse, in late August a multilateral group consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia put forward a new peace proposal drafted by the US Secretary of State to address the sequencing concerns.

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Yemen at the UN - July 2016 Review

Article by Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies

United Nations efforts to resolve the Yemeni conflict were marked by disputes and setbacks during the month of July. Days before the originally scheduled conclusion of peace talks in Kuwait on July 31, the Houthi rebels and their allied General Popular Congress (GPC), led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, unilaterally established a governing council in Yemen that both leaves out the internationally-recognized Yemeni government and undermines the UN-led peace process. Although the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was subsequently successful in extending the peace talks through to August 6, they were concluded without having secured a peace agreement, prompting concerns about both a likely escalation in fighting and the ineffectiveness of UN efforts to help end the war.

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Yemen: Is Peace Possible?

Report by CrisisGroup.org:

Nearly a year on, there is no end in sight to Yemen’s war. The conflict pits Ansar Allah (Huthi) rebels and military units allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh against a diverse mix of opponents, including what remains of the government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S., the UK and France. Ending the war requires negotiations leading to an interim settlement that must include security arrangements providing for militia withdrawal from cities, a return to the political process pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and agreement on a transitional leadership. While these are matters for Yemeni parties to decide during UN-sponsored negotiations, Saudi Arabia’s buy-in will be essential, spooked as the kingdom is by what it perceives as an Iranian hand behind the Huthis and their attacks on Saudi territory. Reaching agreement will take time, a luxury Yemenis do not have. The immediate priority thus should be to secure agreement on delivering humanitarian aid and commercial goods to war-torn, besieged areas.

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(This report attempts to explain the reasons behind the Yemen conflict, the various parties involved, and suggested steps each of these parties should take to facilitate a negotiated peace settlement)

Yemen crisis: peace talks to resume on 14 January

BBC News:

Peace talks aimed at ending the conflict in Yemen have broken up in Switzerland without agreement.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the talks will resume on 14 January at an as yet undecided location.
He said some progress had been made, but that violations of a temporary ceasefire had caused problems.

Fierce fighting has continued in the north of Yemen between Houthi rebels and forces backing the government.

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Yemen: A Time to Heal

Article for Yemeniaty.com by Nabeel A. Khoury, former US diplomat and senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Hariri Center for the Middle East

The old Arab proverb, “Ba’da Kharab al-Basra” (“After the destruction of Basra”), is used in situations when help comes too late. In Yemen’s context, should the guns fall silent at this point, the proverb may be apt to describe stopping the war only after tremendous destruction to the country. The English version, “Better late than never,” is a more positive way of looking at the same phenomenon. The war in Yemen should never have taken place, but it did. Now, it is time for an outside power to stop the insanity. The United Nation’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is valiantly trying to corral all sides to peace talks in hopes of ending the war. However, such talks are not likely to succeed without strong support from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P5).

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the Houthis are the main adversaries, despite the multiplicity of players on both sides of this equation. Both sides now have come to realize that neither one can achieve absolute victory. The Houthis have been ousted from Aden and much of the south and are under serious threat in Sana’a. They can fight on in Ta’izz but their forces will eventually be isolated and out-gunned. Their traditional home city, Sa’dah, has been severely damaged to the point where life has become difficult, if not impossible for the majority of its population. The Houthis no longer have anything to gain from continuing this war.

On the other hand, KSA has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars a month on this war effort and has imported about as many foreign fighters as are willing to come to Yemen. But as the Saudis, allied with the popular resistance, isolate the Houthis and push them back to the North, the latter have responded with a counter attack inside the Kingdom, threatening not only Saudi cities and military bases but, more importantly, Saudi’s internal stability. If Saudi leadership wants a stable relationship with its southern neighbor, this is the time to end the operation in Yemen. Complete victory through the total humiliation of Yemen’s northern tribes would leave KSA with an angry, impoverished neighbor, severing the diplomatic ties much needed in peacetime.

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