Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

International Consensus on Ceasefire in Yemen

International Consensus on Ceasefire in Yemen

Thursday, 27 May, 2021 - 07:15
A Yemeni driving a cart on a street in Sanaa (EPA).

Four months have passed since Washington placed the Yemeni situation as a “top priority”.

The new US administration hastened to take steps that preceded a broad diplomatic drive, appointing envoy Tim Lenderking and revoking the designation of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization. Then, Washington began designating Houthi leaders on its terrorist list, at a rate of two leaders every two months.

Yemeni, at various political and popular levels, noticed two issues in Washington’s handling of the Yemeni crisis.

The first is the rashness in making decisions, while deliberation would have produced a better outcome. The second is Washington’s dealing with Yemen based on US domestic entitlements.

As a result, Yemenis believe that the US has failed to achieve some of the results and actions that the Houthis were once demanding, such as a ceasefire.

Western sources told Asharq Al-Awsat about an international move to hold the Houthis responsible for obstructing the ceasefire agreement in Yemen - an endeavor that enjoys international consensus and paves the way for a comprehensive political solution to the crisis that has been tormenting the country since the Houthi coup in 2014.

A glimmer of hope was seen during the past months, with a Saudi initiative to implement a ceasefire and open Sanaa airport and the port of Hodeidah in line with the Stockholm Agreement, in addition to the US diplomatic impetus which put Yemen as “a top priority.” But researchers argue that the US plan “sent wrong messages”, while some believe that the western approach was somehow ambiguous.

Majed Al-Madhaji, the Executive Director of the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, said in this regard that Yemen has always been one of the political headlines of the new democratic movement.

“Therefore, we witnessed a high level of diplomatic pressure, specifically on the side of the coalition and the legitimate government, in a way that generated messages that were incorrectly read by the Houthis,” he noted.

However, after a rushing effort over four months, the Houthi’s slow or reluctant response to the peace efforts has led to a different approach.

“We will begin to see now in particular, more strictness by the US envoy, who has good knowledge of the situation," Al-Madhaji said.

For her part, Yasmine Al-Nazeri, Executive Director of the Peace Track Initiative, noted that the US administration hastened to “remove the Houthis from the list of terrorism without anything in return.”

“This has encouraged them [the Houthis] to maintain their negative approach to peaceful solutions,” she remarked.

The other mistake, according to Nazeri, is “linking the Yemeni issue with the Iranian nuclear issue, which helped prolong the war in Yemen.”

“The Western dealing with the Yemeni situation, in general, is vague, as it is not pointing to the party that is responsible for the failure of agreements and steps towards a lasting peace in Yemen,” she added.

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