Sunday

5th Dec 2021

Opinion

The chance for peace in Yemen

  • Yemen's civil war started in 2014 (Photo: eesti)

The current Yemeni government was formed in December 2020, consisting of the key parties involved and whose components and competencies are properly reflected in its cabinet.

At its formation, it called on the Houthi militia to stop the war and to pursue national reconciliation.

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It also clearly asserted to Houthis that the door is open for participation in power as long as overall governance adhered to the constitution, and embraced principles of equal citizenship rights while also abandoning violence and any claim of a divine right-to-rule.

The government has called for a peaceful and comprehensive solution, even after it was heinously targeted by the Houthis upon arrival at Aden International Airport with ballistic missiles in what was a brazen attempt, on live television broadcast, to commit killings against the lives of ministers and civilian travellers from all over the country.

Unfortunately, dozens of innocent civilians were killed or wounded in this terrorist attack launched by the Houthis. Among the victims was Yasmine Al-Awadi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works.

Nonetheless, the government, with regional and international support, continued to call for peace and showed great flexibility.

Through its determination for achieving peace, the government aims to protect all Yemenis, including the Houthis. However, the Houthi coup against the legitimate authority and its control of certain provinces caused a civil war and afterwards the world's worse humanitarian crisis according to the United Nations.

Regrettably, the Houthis have interpreted in a wrong way the positive messages from the Yemeni government, our quest for peace and also the international community's eagerness to help restore security and stability.

Additionally, the more the government calls for peace, the more the Houthi militia become intransigent and insistent on continuing its war against the people of Yemen — even quite appalling, recruiting children and placing them in frontlines, exposing them to injury, trauma or death.

The Houthis were not only mistaken in reading the political messages, but also in their reading of history and changes in Yemen.

They further escalated military attacks in the Marib governorate based on wrongful calculations and without realising that this governorate (ie, province), which holds a great historical legacy, would be difficult to conquer.

Queen of Sheba

The people of Marib will never symbolically allow the Houthis to reach the throne of their Queen Bilqis (Sheba). With just 350,000 inhabitants in 2015, it has now dramatically grown in population, exceeding four million people as a result of the massive influx of internally displaced people from Houthi-controlled areas who came escaping injustice, persecution and crimes practiced by the Houthi militia.

But the Houthi attacks on Marib have another story that must be told. Marib does not have air defences that protect it from aerial attacks.

For the past six months, its residents, displaced persons, civilian areas and public facilities have been bombed and destroyed with ballistic missiles, drones and katuysha rockets.

The Houthi militia committed acts of barbarism due to their failures on other battlefronts. Their terrorist acts, in cold blood, have killed and injured hundreds of civilians, including women, children and the elderly.

Indeed, the Houthi militia's objection to and obstruction of all peace efforts is prolonging the war and exacerbating human suffering. Their refusal to accept peace proposals and initiatives has produced dramatic changes in the Houthi-controlled areas. New tribal uprisings against Houthis have occurred in the provinces of Al-Bayda and Al-Jawf.

This is not the first time that tribes have revolted against the Houthis, as it has happened multiple times and in many areas; but the difference this time, is the Houthis' inability to suppress them because of exasperation with the Houthis rejection of opportunities to finally achieve peace in Yemen.

Therefore, to have a real chance for peace, the negative attitude and actions of the Houthi militia towards peace must change. And this change also requires, in particular, a new European approach to help solve the Yemeni crisis — an approach based on supporting the Yemeni government politically and economically (as it represents all Yemenis), and for creating a full partnership with it to achieve peace.

Moreover, strenuous pressures on the Houthis can alter their behaviour to accept the peace plan for a total ceasefire, a pivotal step to national reconciliation and recovery.

Author bio

Dr Ahmed BinMubarak is Yemen minister of foreign and expatriates affairs.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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