Arab solution only solution in Yemen

The West, and the United Nations offer lip-service while investing little by way of action

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Photo: SPA
Photo: SPA

Published: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 11:05 PM

By continuing to target Saudi Arabia, the Houthis have made it clear that they are not keen to sit at the negotiating table and discuss issues concerning Yemen, most importantly its humanitarian crisis.

It appears that the group is seeking a military solution in the country that is reeling from decades of civil strife that has spawned a massive refugee crisis, leaving millions homeless.

Yet there are solutions closer home. Yemen, meanwhile, remains the forgotten war as the crisis in Ukraine makes headlines globally. The West’s gaze is on Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the Russian missile onslaught and ground offensive.

However, tears for the Yemeni people, and condemnation of the aggressor, the Houthis, are rare.

The West, and the United Nations offer lip-service while investing little by way of action to help Yemen pull itself out of its long drawn, decades old cycle of violence.

Humanitarian aid alone is not enough to draw Yemen out of this quagmire. Most Western nations fail to realise that only a political solution will ensure lasting peace in the country.

Despite celebrities like Angelina Jolie reminding the world of the dire nature of the crisis, urgency is lacking among the global elite.

On a visit to the Arab world’s most impoverished country, the star said: “The situation here is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with one civilian killed or injured every hour in 2022.’’ Shocking! Yemenis, meanwhile, find themselves caught between the Houthis and their handlers in Tehran.

Western nations tiptoe around the core problem centred in Iran in hopes of striking a nuclear deal with the clerical regime. Arab and GCC countries’ concerns were ignored when the original deal was signed in 2015, and if current negotiations are any indication, nothing will come out of another sham of a pact.

A just solution is distant; appeasement of both Iran (to defer its military nuclear programme by 5 years and Russia (to end the Ukraine offensive as Moscow has already linked tagged Tehran) is on the cards.

What’s significant is that the Arab Coalition’s military and development push in Yemen that began seven years ago has yielded results in limiting the Houthi influence and governance in the country.

The terror group’s writ is limited to the north, with the south being in the safe hands of the coalition. But the Houthis have become bolder and are using drones and missiles sourced from Iran on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the latest being Sunday’s attack on Saudi installations and oil facilities.

The plan is to expand the theatre of war beyond Yemen and rattle the coalition. Unless the world acknowledges the gravity of the situation in Yemen and support builds for the Arab countries fighting a sectarian foe, Yemen’s conflict and humanitarian crisis could spiral out of control.

This begs the question: should the Houthis be part of Yemen talks? Yes, but with conditions. The first would be a commitment to end terror attacks on Arab countries; the second would mean the group gives up its brand of sectarianism and becomes an honest party for peace in Yemen; and, finally, open humanitarian corridors.

A military solution, as the group envisages, is impossible. The West has its own crisis to deal with in Ukraine. The Houthis have an Arab solution. It must grab it with both hands starting with a truce during Ramadan.

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