Despite Biden’s Push, a Difficult Road to Peace in Yemen
Buthaina al-Raimi was five years old when her home in the Yemeni capital was destroyed in a Saudi airstrike in August 2017, killing her parents and all her 5 brothers.
Since then, for no reason, she still bursts into tears. She yells to her uncle while flying flights overhead, “They’re going to reach us!”
The US desire to delay helping the Saudi alliance and to call for a conflict stop last month cannot do anything to end the pain of Khalid Mohammed Saleh, the uncle of Khalid.
He said: “It’s an informed decision, and it’s too late. He said it was too soon, also, if President Joe Biden’s decision will bring stability to Yemen. It is too early.
Biden stopped funding for the Saudi coalition, which gave international criticism to the thousands of civilians killed, was a dramatic split with the air war against the Houthi, the Yemeni uprising supported by Iran. With this move, Biden has begun a new campaign to end the six-year-old conflict that has driven the most impoverished nation in the Arab world to crumble into a humanitarian crisis.
Yet, it is a challenging journey to achieve stability. Since 2019, no substantive talks have taken place between the warring sides. An agreement was reached by the United States. After negotiations in Sweden, the majority of Sweden’s components in 2018 were essentially unrelated; only one of them, the prisoner exchanges, advanced in several rounds.
Land battles and coalition air attacks persist. The hold of Houthis on the north has only strengthened, and in the last year, the pro-government forces gained new territories.
The strategy change for Biden was “truly good news,” Peter Salisbury, a specialist in Yemen for the International Crisis Group, said but “would not mean an automatic end to the war.”
Yemen celebrated ten years on Thursday, following the collapse in the midst of an increase in the Arab Spring, of the long-time autocratic Ali Abdullah Saleh—as many Yemenis believed, this would lead to successful rule and greater independence. The Houthis took over all the capital, Sanaa, including a good part of the country to the North, at the end of 2014. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was assassinated by the Army. The Houthis took the capital. The fighting was very violent.
In the name of restoring the globally renowned Hadi Regime, Saudi Arabia has set up an alliance that has led a fierce air war while assisting allied powers that are occupying the South.
The war that ensued killed over 130,000 people and destroyed the already fragile facilities of Yemen, from hospitals and roads to water and power. One Aid organizations have informed of the risk of the complete famine in the food crisis triggered by conflict.
Thursday, too, the United Nations. Martin Griffiths, Yemen’s Special Envoy, ended a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, addressing “an inclusive political process” as well as “the need for immediate action that would prevent the humanitarian and economic situation deteriorating,” said U.N. Speaker Stephan Dujarric.
According to Dujarric, Griffiths cautioned against “a rise in military warfare and continued threats to the life of Yemeni women, men and children.”
The Obama administration has given the green light to the involvement of the Saudi coalition in Yemen. The U.S. has provided the alliance information for years, repurposed and supplied weapons to its aircraft. The U.S. presence in the control and command of Saudi Arabia was meant to reduce civil strikes.
The alliance has been widely criticized for indiscriminate attacks that have targeted schools, markets, and other civil facilities, injuring or killing thousands of civilians.
The image of Buthaina became a sign of the cost of this civilian after the attack in August 2017, got viral. She has taken care of her uncle Saleh and other relatives after she lost her family.
“Her life was destroyed before it began, like so many others,” he said.
On both sides, adamant military success is extremely doubtful, and both sides are claiming they want dialogue. Yet getting them together to the peace table requires dealing with several factions and varying foreign allies and agendas.
The ranks of anti-Houthi have almost fragmented. In 2019 the Saudi-backed Hadi forces recently faced Southern Separatist groups sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, which would be Hadi’s other major coalition power but intensely dislikes it.
After even a Saudi contract, the struggle was more superficial. However, in the government-held, oil-rich Marib province, the Houthis have manipulated the tumult. The drones and rockets have proceeded deep within Saudi Arabia — including attacks only a few days just after the declaration of Biden.
Just a couple of days later, in Marib, the rebels started another assault and battled drone attacks against Saudi territory.
Biden appointed Timothy Lenderking, a new Yemen special envoy, to request a ceasefire, to open humanitarian channels to provide additional assistance, and a return to long-term peace talks.
The International Rescue Working group Executive Director in the UK, Melanie Ward, has called upon London to seize the ‘living chance’ to work very closely with the Biden administration in order to address the gridlock years in the United Nations. and getting Yemen closer to permanent stability.
The Saudis ask rebel forces, particularly ballistic missiles, to give up their heavy weapons. The Kingdom supports a plan from the United Nations for 2016, which would offer a minor position for the Houthis in the government and pave the way for elections. Hadi’s administration demands that any deal require his government’s relocation to Sanaa.
In the meantime, the Biden cut-off would not necessarily distract from the willingness of the alliance to continue to wage war. Several high ticket gun sales to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were briefly retained by the army. Said that it would end the coalition’s offensive assistance while stressing that it would continue to help Saudi Arabia improve security against external attacks.
The administration of Biden has just said it ended Saudi Arabia’s offensive assistance in Yemen. However, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the United States Central Commandement, noted that the U.S. would “help the Saudis defend themselves against such attacks by providing intelligence.”
“We’re not going to help them strike and carry out offensive operations in Yemen,” said McKenzie.
Biden has overturned the appointment of Houthis as a criminal group by the Trump administration. The aid groups in Yemen who feared that the classification could conflict with fuel, rice, and other supplies that keep the Yemenis hardly alive welcomed this change.
Mohamed Abdi, Yemen’s Director for the Council for Norwegian Refugees, claimed that the reversal of the designation and end of U.S. funding provides “a rare insight into a world with six years of horrific war killing and maiming tens of thousands of people, farms, burning homes, markets, hospitals and schools, and pushing the civilians to the brink of starvation.