Yemen peace talks

Updated 15 Dec 2018

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AFTER several days of parleys in Sweden, the principal belligerents in the Yemeni civil war — the Aden-based government and the Houthi rebels that control Sana’a — have, under UN auspices, decided to call a truce and end hostilities in the key port of Hodeidah.

Moreover, ‘humanitarian corridors’ may also be opened to allow access to the city of Taiz. For the beleaguered people of Yemen, though the truce may not spell the end of this disastrous war, the agreement does hold out the hope that such small steps may eventually lead to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

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For over three years, the Yemeni people have had to deal with death, disease and starvation, much of it caused by the ruinous Saudi-led and Western-backed campaign to push back the Iran-allied Houthis.

Hodeidah is important as much of the aid meant for Yemenis flows through it. It is hoped that both sides will honour the truce and allow humanitarian aid and supplies to freely reach those who need it most.

Moreover, the external actors who support their respective Yemeni proxies must make an extra effort to prevent a flare-up.

The lesson that has emerged from the peace talks in Sweden is that a peaceful end to this crisis lies with the Yemeni protagonists themselves.

The global community and regional states should use their influence to facilitate a negotiated settlement, rather than fan the flames of war. Though it may sound trite, only a Yemeni-led, Yemeni-owned solution can work.

However, those external actors who have played a key role in destroying the country through a devastating war and cruel blockade should now reach into their deep pockets and give generously to rebuild Yemen and rehabilitate its people. The Gulf Arabs must play a leading role in financing Yemen’s reconstruction.

As for the Houthis and their foes, the Yemeni government, the world will be watching them closely to see whether the Hodeidah truce can be expanded into a wider countrywide peace.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018