24/10/2016

Diplomatic stalemate in Yemen: Where is the international community?

By Chloé de Radzitzky

 The decision concerning the 72 hours ceasefire in Yemen has not lasted long. Indeed, the Arabic military coalition accused the rebels Houthis for having broken it. The decision to establish a cease-fire had been taken on October 17th to settle the conflict after two years of civil war. The crisis started again on August 6th of this year after 3 months of inter-Yemeni negotiation in Kuwait.

People inspect the aftermath of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Yemeni security and medical officials say at least 45 people have been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that targeted a funeral hall in the capital, Sanaa. The officials say at least another 100 have been wounded in the Saturday strike. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrhman)/YEM101/16282650678469/1610082010

Photo: Osamah Abdulrhman

The conflict opposes president Hadi to the Houthis rebels. The latter are for now occupying occupy Sanaa, the capital of the country. The Houthis considers having been politically and financially marginalized for too long. In 2014, the Houthis rebels expelled president Hadi. The later flew first to Aden, then to Riyadh. In January 2015, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia began airstrikes to weaken the opposition forces to the government. According to analysts, the Saudis asserted their support for president Hadi because of Iran’s support to the Houthis. They fear that Teheran would weaken them by indirectly attacking their border with Yemen.

The armed solution has produced mitigated results at the end of these 18 months of airstrikes. If the rebels were expelled from Aden, it is to be replaced by Islamist groups such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Furthermore, the end of the mandate of the transitional government as well as its unconditional support in airstrikes affected its legitimacy.

A diplomatic solution is nevertheless the best option since none of the camps seems to be able to militarily defeat the other. The intervention is costly for Saudi Arabia. It is also ineffective, and is criticized by its allies. Washington declared that it would dissociate itself from the coalition if the attack against the funerals committed on October 9th was to be found deliberated. Furthermore, the conflict has led to a critical humanitarian situation. It will not be taken in charge correctly as long as the stakeholders refuse to establish a cease-fire, and avoid returning to the negotiation table. Such a scenario is still possible. It can happen if there is a mobilization of the international community, especially the US, the UK and France, to establish mutual trust between stakeholders, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.