Saudi Arabia and Iran find common ground for peace

The accelerating pace of these historic developments can be attributed, in no small part, to the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China

AP file photo
AP file photo

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Published: Wed 12 Apr 2023, 9:04 PM

Three months ago, a vessel carrying a cargo of 5,000 weapons, over 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, and 7,000 missile components was intercepted and seized en route from Iran to a Yemeni port under Houthi control. This is just one of the hundreds of similar shipments that have been fuelling the war for nearly eight years and seven months.

The war in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on both sides, with Sanaa airport and the port of Hodeidah rendered inoperational. Arab Coalition forces must approve every plane that lands and search every ship before it docks. The Houthis and the areas under their administration have faced immense hardships, compounded by the displacement of millions of Yemenis in search of a better life in the country or abroad.

Both sides have made simultaneous declarations to end the fighting and restore peace in the country. Intensive meetings were held to discuss an end to the war and a return to normalcy. One remarkable and surprising sign of progress is the recent visit by a Saudi delegation to Houthi-controlled Sanaa, which suggests a genuine commitment to peace.

The accelerating pace of these historic developments can be attributed, in no small part, to the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China. The resolution of longstanding tensions between the two regional powers is expected to have a ripple effect throughout the region, including in Yemen.

The recent agreement has inspired a great deal of hope, particularly with regard to the Yemen war and the prospects for peace.

The war has left behind a trail of challenges, including the displacement and migration of millions of people, the deployment of deadly landmines that have claimed innocent lives, the disruption of education for nearly a decade, the lack of healthcare services, and the large-scale destruction in affected areas.

While the end of the war may not end the futile debate as to who emerged victorious, it is crucial to acknowledge that in the context of wars, there are no real winners. The war was born out of dire necessities, which made it impossible to respond with peaceful means.

The Iranians, Houthis, and Saudis have all suffered, but now, they have come to the realization that the only viable way forward is the proposed solution of internal political participation and a halt to attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Iran, in particular, has come to understand that it cannot isolate itself from the dangers of regional chaos and that it must work toward securing regional stability rather than sabotaging it. It is only when all parties involved come to this realisation that a peaceful resolution becomes a reality.

In the past, many rounds of negotiations have taken place. Successive international and regional negotiators visited the relevant capitals. Agreements were signed. But the fruit of all these efforts was a less-than-ideal peace for everyone involved.

This time around, there are many reasons to be optimistic. The announcement of peace in Yemen has been accompanied by concrete actions, such as the cessation of military operations, the withdrawal of forces, and the release of prisoners by both sides. This is an encouraging start towards achieving lasting peace in this vital region. Ending the war and establishing security and stability is in the interest of all parties.

- Abdulrahman Al Rashed is the former general manager of Al Arabiya television

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