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With Saudis’ Global Backers Backing Away, Yemeni Factions Prepare for Peace Talks

Published: November 20, 2018
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Source: Mint Press

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — Peace in Yemen could not come at a more crucial time. Yemeni factions are preparing for peace talks in Sweden at the end of November while Saudi Arabia faces intense scrutiny and pressure from its Western allies, as well as possible action from the United Nations Security Council, for leaving nearly 22 million Yemenis requiring urgent humanitarian aid at the mercy of the famine and disease that the Saudi-led coalition has leveraged as weapons of war.

As of July, the coalition’s war against Yemen had killed or injured 37,896 civilians, according to Yemen’s Legal Center for Rights and Development, which tracks civilian casualties. Since then, casualties have skyrocketed by 168 percent as a result primarily of the coalition’s bombardment of the densely populated port city of Hodeida.

Yemen’s revolutionary government, led by Ansarullah, announced that its forces would halt all retaliatory missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the monarchies’ ground mercenaries. “If the alliance of aggression wants peace, we are ready to freeze and stop military operations on all fronts,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said late Sunday night. The Sana’a Ministry of Defense supported al-Houthi’s initiative but stressed Yemen’s right to respond in defense to any aggression from the Saudi-led coalition.

For its part, the Saudi coalition was expected to halt its aerial attacks and ground offensive. By Monday afternoon Sana’a time, however, the coalition had launched various missile attacks on civilian homes in Saada province.

September’s attempt at peace negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland fell short after Saudi Arabia refused to grant flight permission to an Omani plane for transporting the Ansarullah delegation back and forth in a timely fashion. This time, however, the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has offered to personally escort the Ansarullah delegation to Sweden in efforts to avoid Saudi interference.

 

Post-Khashoggi global change of heart

Following the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, much of the West has started turning its back on Saudi Arabia, and on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular.

On Monday, Germany announced it had banned 18 Saudi nationals from entering the border-free Schengen zone, which includes 26 nations. Berlin did not disclose the names or titles of the Saudi individuals but did claim they were associated with Khashoggi’s death in some fashion.

Berlin also doubled down on its threats to end all arms sales to Riyadh. In late October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Berlin would not approve any future arms sales to the Kingdom. Today, however, the German government said it would halt all previously approved arms sales as well.This 180-degree move from Germany puts pressure on the United States, United Kingdom, France, and other Western nations to cease their seemingly endless supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Although Germany’s new position towards Riyadh is a huge victory for Yemenis seeking peace, Berlin did not mention anything about the more than 37,000 people killed or injured in Yemen or the humanitarian disaster that threatens the lives of 22 million civilians.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council held a briefing on Friday regarding the Saudi-led war against Yemen. The UNSC is expected to announce a resolution soon. The United Kingdom has publicly stated its support for a “humanitarian truce” on five key fronts, including Hodeida, which was discussed at a previous meeting in October.

Since then, however, the Saudi-led coalition has dramatically increased its attacks on Hodeida port, both from the air and on the ground.

With global sentiment now stacked against Saudi Arabia, it’s possible that this upcoming resolution could call for Riyadh to end its blockade and devastating airstrike campaign.

Top Photo | Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, front row on left, seated next to the country’s most senior cleric, listens to Saudi King Salman give his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council, Nov. 19, 2018, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. SPA | AP

Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.

MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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