The UK’s Middle East Minister James Cleverly on Thursday ruled out the chances of a decisive military solution in Yemen and stressed that Britain encourages warring parties there to positively engage in UN-sponsored talks.
Cleverly, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, laid out the challenges facing Yemenis today which include fighting disease and famine, stressing the need for a negotiated settlement in the war-torn country.
Apart from armed conflict, the Yemeni people have been suffering from a dire outbreak of cholera, the coronavirus and a great risk of famine.
Referring to a recent prisoner swap deal brokered between Iran-backed Houthi coupists and Yemen’s internationally recognized government, Cleverly said it encouraged the possibility of finding positive results when rivals are involved in constructive dialogue.
The minister also added that the opportunity provided by the success of the deal must be seized to promote positive work and progress.
As for peacemaking efforts, Cleverly pointed to initiatives mediated by UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and other UN agencies having the UK’s support.
He added that the Kingdom invites all parties to enter into dialogue openheartedly to try and put an end to the horrific situation in Yemen.
Affirming the presence of communication channels with Houthi militias in Yemen, Cleverly highlighted UK efforts to inspire open dialogue with parties concerned with the Yemeni conflict and boost cooperation.
He said that the UK continues to encourage Houthis to embrace peace and keep implementing trust-building measures, but pointed out that the Kingdom will criticize the group when it undertakes actions that undermine peace.
Deeds that built trust, according to the minister, include implementing prisoner exchange deals, granting access to the rundown Safer oil tanker moored off the coast of Hodeidah and ensuring that World Food Program aid reaches the needy.
Cleverly also made a note of the UK having greatly welcomed the unilateral ceasefire announced in the summer of 2020 by the Arab Coalition, and said that it represented a real opportunity to embrace peace, even for Houthis.
Addressing doubts about the impartiality of Griffiths, Cleverly said that the UN envoy enjoys tremendous respect on the international level.
Even though Griffiths was born in the UK, his appointment was solely a UN decision and not influenced by the British government, Cleverly stressed.
Describing Griffiths as a highly reputable diplomat, the minister lauded the envoy’s passion for peacemaking and hard work to reduce the number of Yemenis who die whether as a direct result of the conflict or due to secondary reasons such as disease.
Despite the UK being a generous donor when it comes to supporting Yemen on the humanitarian level, feeding millions with British aid, Cleverly said that the best gift the Kingdom can afford Yemenis is helping end the war in their country.
Humanitarian efforts and diplomacy need to walk side by side in the effort to build peace, he noted.
As for Iran’s role in the region, the minister said that his country wants for Iran to behave as a good neighbor and not interfere in the affairs of countries beyond its borders.