Yemen after 7 years of conflict

Solutions appear to be as far from being realized as ever.
Dr. Ahmed Sinan
April 3, 2022

Yemen after 7 years of conflict

Solutions appear to be as far from being realized as ever.
Dr. Ahmed Sinan
April 3, 2022
Photo by: Shohdi Alsofi - © Khuyut

Seven years of war have passed in Yemen. A war that claimed almost everything, there was nothing left of the fragile infrastructure that could do nothing. Many facilities ceased to be such, the staff ceased to carry out their duties, while the warring parties left these staff plundered by starvation, disease, and death by force.

The war continues with almost all sovereign institutions losing their legitimacy, not because of the war but because of the expiration of their constitutional deadlines. The House of Representatives lost its legitimacy from an early age since it extended itself for additional two years' term once in 2009, and paragraph (a) of Article 65 of the constitution no longer applies to it, to add paragraph (b) that obstructed the parliament from automatically continuing in exchange for extending its term. However, the members of the Council are still clinging to staying, contrary to what is decided by the Constitution. Therefore, the sessions of Parliament and the decisions issued by it have no legal status. Because the Council is divided like the rest of the state institutions and political forces. This means that he is unable to make any decisions. Its sessions are also restricted to the capital, where the internal regulation of the House of Representatives states that the place of its meeting is (the capital, Sana’a), and it may, in cases of force majeure, convene in another place in the country, in two cases: either by a decision of the President of the Republic or by the proposal of the members, and in both cases it must be approved by the majority of members of the House of Representatives.

In addition, the Yemeni president’s consensual term was expired in 2019, and its renewal is only possible with new elections, and before that the period included in the Gulf initiative had expired. On the other hand, the war imposed different and various legitimacies, north and south.

In large parts of the north, Ansar Allah (Houthis) extended their control over the situation, especially after they made up their minds with the former president Saleh and took it towards the predetermined path. While in the south, the Transitional Council disputes authority with “legitimacy”, we tend here to use the term (legitimacy) as a metaphor for defining one of the authorities that resulted from the war. 

The country is divided among three “authorities” that were produced in whole or in part by the war, but which presented themselves as powers of influence for groups and not as state authorities; In the sense that it did not act with the mentality of the state guarantor of citizenship for all residents in the country, so it raced to seize public jobs regionally, regionally and sectarianly.

If we look with open eyes at the economic, social and health situation in the country, we will find that it does not differ radically from one place to another. All parts of the country suffer from the crisis of fuel and electricity, the deterioration of the health service, education and water, the deterioration of the currency with astronomical numbers, inflation, the spread of corruption, and the lack of employee salaries or Delayed or scarce often. None of these powers can claim superiority over the others.

References and hard labors

When the Gulf initiative was issued, we explained that it came in response to Gulf fears about the repercussions of the youth revolution as a result of the Gulf countries’ fear of the revolution’s success and bringing about a real change in the content and form of the Yemeni political system, which prompted those countries to confuse how to end the revolution. Therefore, we saw two versions of the initiative; The first was written by Qatar and was in a hurry to transfer power directly to the party it saw fit. Then it was amended so that the opposition and the Congress Party would share power by 50% each, which was blessed by the opposition and hastened to sign the initiative in April 2011, that is, before President Saleh convinced himself to sign. The president did not sign the initiative until November 2011, and even when the initiative was amended and timed, many of its clauses were circumvented. Perhaps not forming an explanatory committee for the initiative is one of the biggest frauds, which led to the imposition of a unilateral interpretation of the initiative's content.

With the war entering its eighth year, everyone returns to the starting point, once again calling for dialogue in Riyadh. An invitation rejected by the Houthis from the outset without equivocation; Repeated use of old tools (money and weapons), which in our case proved to be no longer useful.

In sum, the initiative was designed to transfer power from Saleh to an alternative person, and the power-hungry opposition parties unanimously agreed that the alternative would be the vice president - Abd Rabbo Mansour - the idea of ​​change died at this point. Here ends the role of the initiative.

Some of the effective political forces on the ground, such as a large sector of the Southern Movement and the Houthi movement, saw that the Gulf initiative did not meet their aspirations, as much as it fulfilled the parties' need for power.

 We conclude from the foregoing that the initiative is not concerned with stopping the war that broke out after the initiative was announced, and perhaps as a result of it. However, there are those who cling to it as a reference to end the war, and this - for my age - is a big mistake.

In addition to the human and economic losses caused by the war in the country, it has created more serious problems that may persist for generations after the war stops.

In the south, the regional rivalry carried by the events of January 1986 and the results of the 1994 war began to sow hatred and cracks that cannot be bridged in the southern social fabric. The level of hatred rose not only towards all the people of the north, but also against southern geographic areas, to the extent of exchanging obscene nicknames and belittling among some of its members which threatens with very serious repercussions.

Additionally, in the south, calls for the restoration of the state are louder, but this is a very broad slogan, as it accommodates all calls and all statelets. The advocates of restoring the state of South Arabia slander a lot, and do not understand that the state of the south of Arabia does not mean the People's Republic of South Yemen, which arose with the independence of the south. 

The observer of what is going on in the south will notice a dangerous slide towards the pre-November 1967, and we do not know at what historical point each side will stop. The princely and sultan titles have returned to work as a fait accompli, and the conflict has taken the form of sultans and sheikhdoms without anyone paying any attention to it.

Even the sultanates returned to the conflict over their old borders and lands outside their borders, despite the fact that the state after independence introduced a new administrative division in which it abolished the previous border distinctions of the regions.

On May 17, 2015, a conference for dialogue between Yemeni political forces was held in Saudi Arabia under the slogan (Saving Yemen and Building the Federal State). However, the decisions and recommendations from the 2015 Riyadh conference achieved nothing, other than leaking payment documents to those who attended it. The payee party was not the Yemeni government, but the Saudi Special Committee which did not provoke the anger of anyone anyway.

The talk is about a proxy war that is raging in Yemen, meaning that no party alone can stop the war. The whole world is convinced that Saudi Arabia and Iran are settling their accounts in Yemen, so there is no choice but to gather the two opponents first to agree to stop the war, and automatically the local parties will meet; because the threat to cut off the funding will be enough to settle this issue.

The war impacted both the country and the people, but nothing was achieved from the declared goals of the alliance, and this has one explanation, which is that those goals are not what the war is about, and that the alliance has other aims it seeks to achieve.

The matter did not settle in the south, and the conflict intensified between the legitimacy and the transitional council for hegemony over the city of Aden, and this peaceful city turned into a hostage in its life and needs between the two parties, depriving its residents of the necessary services. Its people have also been affected by the steady deterioration of the currency, and they are the ones who live on their salaries only while the cost of living has cut their shoulders. The reconstruction of the city was forgotten, and its citizens were marginalized and deprived of the administration of their province by the warring parties, in keeping with the old custom.

In this circumstance, Saudi Arabia rushed to gather the two parties in November 2019 and sign the "Riyadh Agreement", which provided for the establishment of a political-military mechanism to calm the situation in the city. Implementation of the agreement faltered, although the sponsoring side of the agreement later put in place a mechanism to speed up implementation. At that time, we said that it was impossible to implement the agreement and identified many reasons for that. Among them is that the agreement legitimized the regional sharing of influence over the governorate of Aden, and deprived its residents of their right to administer their governorate - according to their civil vision that upholds the law and obey it - like the rest of the governorates. The coalition did not provide financial, procedural and economic guarantees that could help fulfill the agreement, and our expectations were validated, and the agreement was not implemented, and neither side succeeded in acting according to the mentality of the state in managing the affairs of Aden.

Duplicate Means

As the war approaches its eighth year, everyone is back to the starting point. Once again, a call for dialogue in Riyadh, a call that the Houthis rejected from the beginning without equivocation. Their mouthpiece says: Riyadh is a party to the war; How can you be an opponent and a referee at the same time?! A logical entrance to the refusal, and they have already announced it regarding the 2015 dialogue. As a result, the General People’s Congress and the Sana’a group will refuse to participate in the 2015 Riyadh Dialogue. Bin Daghr and al-Barkani went as representatives of that group, but now they have moved to the other side of the conference, so interest rules.

Repeated use of old tools (money and weapons), in our case, is no longer useful. The logical question that puts itself in this case is: How can the Cooperation Council work to stop the war without the participation of one of its most important parties?

In the 2015 Riyadh Dialogue, war was the council’s choice, and this is what we read from the goals that were set before its participants. But the war did not produce the result that the belligerents and their supporters wanted, it resulted in only tragedies and calamities, all of these weapons did not bring anyone closer to his goal, everyone is draining everyone, Yemen is bleeding people, and others are draining resources that could have had a better role in building.

Eight years seems to be the record time after which Saudi Arabia absorbs the size of its predicament in Yemen, and then we begin to think of an undisguised exit: After eight years of war, after 1962, Saudi Arabia reached the same conclusion, but in return it was able to empty the revolution of its content by creating a (republican-monarchical) regime via the coup of November 5, 1967.

Today the choice looks very different. The talk is about a proxy war raging in Yemen; That is, no party alone can stop the war. The world is unanimously agreed that Saudi Arabia and Iran are settling their accounts in Yemen, so there is no choice but to gather the two opponents first to agree to stop the war, and automatically the local parties will meet; Because the threat to cut off funding is enough to settle the issue.

Not long ago, representatives of some Yemeni political forces met with the UN envoy in Jordan to set what was called a "framework", and it became clear that these forces revolve in the same old circle (the initiative, the outcomes of the dialogue and the Security Council resolution). This path has proven to fail with the continuation of the war, and even many of the parties spoke openly about the need to search for other bases to establish peace, and it seems that the parties fighting the war did not understand the issue well.

But it is remarkable that these same forces hastened to bless the call for the second Riyadh Dialogue, and they forgot what they were calling for in Amman to increase the price of war!

Calling for negotiations to bring peace and stop the war itself is a positive action that should crystallize into a specific, clear-cut project and elements. The first thing that must be done in this case is the agreement of the two sides of the war equation; Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Either the two countries agree face to face to stop, or Saudi Arabia invites Iran with a binding guarantee to attend the Riyadh Dialogue, whereby they are represented in this dialogue by two delegations with full authority to decide to end the war.

Because this matter is unlikely, the Gulf Cooperation Council, although it is a party to the war, can sponsor the process of stopping the war through an expanded conference to be held in Kuwait or Muscat, as they are capitals acceptable to all parties. But if Saudi Arabia seeks to repeat the same scene of dialogue, there is no point in holding it; Because the result will be obvious in advance.

During the past few days, lists attached to a memorandum signed by Ahmed bin Mubarak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of legitimacy, addressed to Ambassador Al Jaber, including the names of those who are supposed to attend the Riyadh dialogue, were leaked, but it was denied that these lists were issued by an official body, but the participation will show the truth of the matter. The memorandum and the lists raise a serious question about the party behind the invitation. If the Cooperation Council is the inviter and the host, then it is concerned with sending invitations through the Secretary-General of the Council to specific and qualitative entities and not to individuals, if the talk is about an institutional work that should lead or even prepare a peace process. But we do not know why bin Mubarak is asking the Jaber family to approve the lists; The legitimacy, as it is supposed, is one of the parties participating in the consultations, not an organizer body.

It is noticeable that among the names included in those lists, who was one of the causes of the crisis or persons of no capacity, and the huge number of participants suggests the lack of seriousness of the ongoing efforts to end the war.

It is not possible under any circumstances to hold high hopes for consultations or dialogue in Riyadh, as we did not notice a psychological and political readiness on the part of the actual parties to the war to put an end to the war, and to enter into serious negotiations that discuss the most important simultaneous political and military mechanisms to stop hostilities, and to start building regional and local consensus on the mutual commitments of these parties, specifying the guarantor parties for each step of discontinuing the war.

In these negotiations, the responsibilities for the reconstruction of the infrastructure, its proportions and time, and war compensation must be determined.

Along with all that, the nature of the interests of all parties should be discussed in a direct, specific and clear manner, in order to provide a sound basis for building normal relations between countries and to get out of the impasse of abnormal relations that characterize Yemen’s relationship with some countries.

However, the most important foundation for a lasting peace in Yemen is for the political forces to re-evaluate themselves and their performance; Either it absorbs the lesson and renews its strength, leadership and discourse, or it dissolves itself. And all the forces will have to speak frankly about the real problems around which the conflict revolves, instead of prevarication and talking about sub-sections. The authority has always been the subject of contention, but these forces were talking about marginal things, the outbreak of the bloody conflict. 

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