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9 November, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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The impetus to end the war in Yemen and relieve the suffering of millions must be seized

Mina Al-Oraibi

Yemeni government forces on patrol during battles with Houthi rebels in the port city of Hodeidah,  Few words can do justice to the suffering of the people of Yemen. With half the population facing possible famine and millions of children suffering from malnutrition, no effort can be spared in ending the suffering of all Yemenis. Last week saw a significant development, with the Americans pushing for "substantive consultations" to begin promptly, overseen by the United Nations, coupled with a halting of hostilities by the end of this month. There is now renewed impetus to end the war and the illegitimate Houthi rule in Sanaa, an opportunity that cannot be squandered again. Too many lives are at stake.

There were hopes last summer that a political process, via the office of UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, would bring about a path to peace. Mr Griffiths started his term as envoy in February and, by the summer, felt confident about starting a political process before the end of the year. The Arab coalition, and in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE, welcomed Mr Griffiths’ appointment and repeatedly called for a political solution to end the war and reinstate the internationally recognised government of Yemen. The coalition also welcomed Mr Griffiths’ invitation to key Yemeni parties to join in peace talks and urged the government of Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to attend them in Geneva in September. Mr Hadi and his team had their reservations about the negoti ations but they were encouraged by their allies to take the necessary steps to kickstart a vital political process. Sensing the urgency with which the world was moving to press for talks, the Houthi rebels tried to take maximum advantage of the situation and laid out a series of demands without ever making it to Geneva. Their stalling tactics led to the collapse of talks before they had even begun. While Mr Griffiths has been working tirelessly to get the talks off the ground, the involvement of the US has now brought momentum to the political track. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis spelled out in Manama the next urgent steps to start a peace process: demilitarising borders, bringing heavy weapons under international control (rather than under the Houthis) and setting up confidence-building measures. These are steps that the Yemeni government and Arab coalition have been calling for.

If these measures are set in place – and include the release of detainees and facilitating the delivery of aid – political talks should follow. The primary issues will not be that different from the talks that began several years ago, prior to the Houthi coup: power-sharing, control of arms and the need for a national consensus on governance.

January 2014 feels like a long time ago in Yemen. The National Dialogue conference concluded that month with an agreement on decentralisation and government-sharing, a key moment in a political transition that first began in Yemen in November 2011, when Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to Mr Hadi. Saudi Arabia led that largely peaceful political process, within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council and with the agreement of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

    thenational.ae

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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