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Another chance for peace in Yemen

Filed on April 6, 2016 | Last updated on April 6, 2016 at 07.26 am

The Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels acknowledge that the war effort has not been worth it and a stable Middle East is important for world peace.

A negotiated settlement to the Yemen conflict is in the best interests of the parties concerned. Both sides are coming round to it. War is not the answer and peace in the country wracked by a year of intense fighting is no more a distant possibility. It only needs cool heads to make it happen. Ordinary Yemenis suffering from the vagaries of conflict deserve a chance to get on with their lives.

The Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels acknowledge that the war effort has not been worth it and a stable Middle East is important for world peace. The trouble is that a third player lurks in the shadows, who continues to smuggle arms to the rebel Houthis, provoking them into more fighting that has claimed thousands of lives and dislodged millions from their homes in the impoverished country. If Iran desists from fomenting more trouble in Arab countries long term peace can be achieved and all outstanding issues can be resolved; the region should then focus on development.

Tehran would be hesitant to let go of its proxy which it has controlled so far like a puppet on a string for its revolutionary goals. On Monday, the US Navy revealed it had intercepted a large cache of arms headed for the Houthis in Yemen on March 28. But the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi delegation have agreed to meet half way despite this dangerous development. Will they go all the way is the question that is premature to answer.

Both sides are being cautious lest they let expectations get the better of them. Riyadh is positive about the prospects of direct talks with the rebels. It has also been reported that Houthi officials are in Saudi Arabia, charting out a common plan to bring hositilities to an end. A solution is possible if Iran stays out of the equation and stops meddling in the internal affairs of GCC and Arab countries. The agenda for talks in Kuwait later this month is being worked out, and some prickly issues have been settled, according to reports. What then becomes of former president Saleh, an ally of the Houthis? It is not clear if group has dumped him for good to pursue the path of peace. Or will his militia be used by the regime in Tehran to sow discord and keep the fires in Yemen burning? A truce brokered by the United Nations comes into force on Sunday before talks begin on April 18. The ice has to be broken, but slowly, both sides realise. The heat of battle is too much for Yemenis to handle.


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