THE ruinous war in Yemen is a blot on the global conscience.
What began as a foreign intervention in an internal conflict has turned into one of the biggest tragedies of the modern age, as one of the poorest Arab nations has been ravaged by violence, famine and disease — much of it avoidable.
Saudi Arabia, and the coalition it has assembled (along with its Western backers), shares a large part of the blame, as its attempts to shore up the Yemeni government and push back the Iran-aligned Houthis have failed.
There has been far too much ‘collateral damage’ as the coalition has bombed hospitals and buses full of children. However, there are signs that the Yemeni people’s long nightmare may be nearing its end.
There are reports that the Saudi-led coalition has ordered a stop to fighting in the key port of Hodeidah, while the UAE, a central actor in the coalition, has said it supports the “early convening of UN-led” peace talks to end the conflict.
While it may be too early to be optimistic, one hopes these signs mature into intentions to end the war and efforts to start rebuilding the shattered country.
While the war has more or less turned into a stalemate, it appears that a change of heart in the world community is responsible for the coalition’s recent moves, triggered by the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
One outcome of the gruesome killing is that Saudi Arabia’s role in the region is now in the spotlight, as there is strong evidence linking the journalist’s death to the security establishment in Riyadh.
While Yemen’s plight was ignored by the world for years, today, the brutality unleashed upon Yemen is being openly discussed.
Last week, the Saudis said they had ‘requested’ the US to stop refuelling their aircraft involved in the war.
Clearly, international pressure is building up for Riyadh and its allies to end the war and enable a negotiated settlement.
The Houthis and all other Yemeni factions must take advantage of the opportunity and come to the table to end this disastrous war.
It will, indeed, take many years to rehabilitate Yemen, as a whole generation has fallen prey to death, disease and malnutrition.
One hopes that peace talks are successful and that the states largely responsible for destroying Yemen help rebuild this forsaken country and facilitate the rehabilitation of its people.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018