Saturday

2nd Jul 2022

Opinion

A chance for peace in Yemen?

  • The besieged city of Taiz, Yemen (Photo: Wikimedia)
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On 7 April, 1,000 Yemenis gathered in the city of Riyadh, including politicians, academics, and activists. The representation of women and youth was great, and the conference came out with a new formula (modified) for governance in Yemen.

The Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) was formed under the chairmanship of His Excellency Dr Rashad Al-Alimi and the membership of seven Yemeni leaders who represent the various active political forces on the ground.

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There is great optimism amongst Yemenis since the formation of the council and they are looking forward to economic, political, and social reforms.

And we are hopeful that our friends in the European Union can help and will provide us with assistance, as they did in the past, to achieve these reforms.

The European Union has played a distinguished role in providing aid and assistance to the Yemeni people over the past years, and it has made great contributions represented in providing aid that amounted to nearly €1bn to alleviate the famine and establish small projects that generate daily income for families in need.

Despite this, we must point out that the European Union's reluctance to condemn the practices of the Houthi militias and their Iranian backers regarding their attacks on cities, arbitrary arrests, and the recruitment of children in a clear and strong manner has emboldened the militias to continue their inhumane practices.

Moreover, the Houthi militias did not commit to implementing any of the agreements they signed, including the Stockholm Agreement 2018, but rather took advantage of that agreement to expand their attack on the city of Marib, which includes nearly two million internally displaced people.

Despite that, the government made many concessions to reach a two-month truce which the Houthis violated and are continuing to violate on a daily basis.

And yet again out of a desire to reach a lasting peace the PLC agreed, after its meeting with the UN envoy, to extend the truce, which ends on June 1, 2022, for another two months.

Both the PLC and the government are now working in the interim capital Aden and exercise their powers from there. Here, we must pay tribute to the recent visit made by the ambassador of the European Union and a number of European ambassadors to Aden, and their meeting with the president and members of the PLC as well as the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

But what is required now from the European Union countries is to pressure the Houthi militias and the Iranian authorities supporting them to comply with the terms of the truce. Foremost of which is the ending of the siege on the city of Taiz, which has the largest population of any city in Yemen.

Today moving between two districts in the city requires five to six hours through dangerous roads due to the Houthi militias closure of the main road that divides the city in two and this has caused daily accidents that has resulted in many deaths and injuries.

It is also important, after allowing the entry of oil derivatives, that the Houthi militias pay the salaries of employees in their areas of control, which was agreed upon in Stockholm in 2018, and until this day the militias have not committed to paying.

The support of the EU and its member states, in particular the Netherlands, to the UN efforts to finally reach an agreement with the Houthi militia to allow the moving of the 1.4 million barrels of oil from the dilapidated FSO Safir tanker to another tanker and the pledging of nearly half of the $80m [€76m] cost of the project's budget is greatly appreciate by the government and people of Yemen.

Oil spill blackmail?

We regrettably note that if there were a firmer stance from the international community towards the Houthis use of the threat of a spill as a blackmail tool, it would have taken a fraction of cost to repair the vessel three years ago.

However, the devastation that a spell would cause to the environment and the maritime activities in the Bab Almandab strait, which would cost $40bn [€38bn] to clean, makes the current cost worth it.

I want to reaffirm that the Yemeni PLC and government are sincerely seeking to end the war and bring peace to Yemen, but there is a stubborn party, I would even say a party that is afraid of the consequences of peace, and that party is the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

I call upon the European Union countries once again to seize this opportunity to pressure Iran and the Houthi militias to implement the terms of the truce agreement in full, which has been fully implemented by the government of the Republic of Yemen.

Author bio

Mohamed Mustafa is ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU.

Disclaimer

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

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