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Saturday, April 13, 2024

How the end of the Yemen War may lead to development and prosperity

Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. It is also one of the most politically and socially complex, with a history of tribalism, regionalism, and sectarianism.

Pakistan welcomes the recent dialogue and diplomatic engagement towards the attainment of peace in Yemen with particular reference to the Saudi role and endeavors in reinforcing the efforts of the Sultanate of Oman and the UN Special Envoy for Yemen. The Saudi efforts towards an amicable resolution of the Yemeni crisis. It is believed that timely initiatives would promote peace, stability, and development in the entire region. Pakistan reiterates its principled support for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis through dialogue and consultation.

Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. It is also one of the most politically and socially complex, with a history of tribalism, regionalism, and sectarianism. For decades, Yemen was ruled by a strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was able to maintain power through a combination of patronage, coercion, and manipulation of tribal and sectarian divisions.

Read more: Ceasefire and prisoner exchange bring signs of progress in Yemen conflict

The Arab Spring was a series of protests and uprisings that began in 2010 and spread across the Middle East and North Africa. It was characterized by demands for greater political freedom, economic opportunities, and social justice. Yemen was one of the countries that experienced significant unrest during the Arab Spring, leading to a protracted crisis that continues to this day.

In 2011, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Yemenis took to the streets to demand political and economic reforms. The protests were initially peaceful, but they soon turned violent as security forces cracked down on demonstrators.

The National Dialogue Conference

In an attempt to defuse the crisis, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brokered a deal that saw Saleh step down in 2012 in favor of his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Hadi was tasked with overseeing a two-year transition period that would culminate in the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of democratic elections. To facilitate this process, a National Dialogue Conference (NDC) was convened in March 2013. The NDC brought together representatives from all sectors of Yemeni society to discuss the country’s future and to make recommendations for reform.

The conference was supposed to be a way to build consensus and address the grievances of various groups, including the secessionists in the south, the rebels in the north, and the marginalized communities in the east. However, the NDC was plagued by divisions, with many of the participants boycotting the conference or walking out in protest. There were also concerns about the role of external actors, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United States, who were seen as trying to influence the outcome of the conference.

The Crisis Escalates

In September 2014, the Houthi rebels, a group that had been fighting against the government since 2004, seized control of the capital, Sana’a. They accused the government of corruption, incompetence, and subservience to foreign powers. The Houthi takeover was a significant blow to the transitional government, which was already struggling to maintain control over the country. Hadi fled to Aden, a southern port city, where he attempted to rally support for his government. However, his efforts were hampered by the continued presence of AQAP, which had taken advantage of the political vacuum to expand its operations in the country.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched a military intervention in Yemen to support Hadi’s government and to push back against the Houthi rebels. The intervention has been widely criticized for causing a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians killed and millions displaced. The conflict has also allowed AQAP to further entrench itself in Yemen, undermining efforts to counter the group’s operations in the region.

Read more: Yemen prisoner swap to start Thursday as peace hopes rise

The conflict has been a humanitarian disaster, with an estimated 233,000 people killed and millions more displaced. The fighting has destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and homes. Yemen is now facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with over 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance, including food and medicine.

Despite numerous attempts to broker a peace deal, the conflict continued for several years. Oman, a neighboring country with good relations with both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, played a crucial role in facilitating peace talks between the warring parties. In 2018, the United Nations appointed Martin Griffiths as its special envoy to Yemen, and he led a series of peace negotiations that eventually resulted in the Stockholm Agreement in December 2018.

The Stockholm Agreement, which was brokered by Oman, called for a ceasefire in the city of Hodeidah, the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, and a prisoner exchange. While the ceasefire was initially successful, fighting resumed in other parts of the country, and progress toward a more comprehensive peace deal was slow.

In conclusion, the Yemen War has been a humanitarian disaster, with devastating consequences for the Yemeni people. The conflict, which began as a local power struggle, quickly escalated into a regional proxy war, fueled by outside powers. The role of Oman in brokering peace talks was crucial, and the recent peace deal offers hope for a more peaceful and stable future for Yemen. However, the challenges of implementing the agreement are significant, and the international community must continue to support the people of Yemen as they seek to rebuild their country and their lives.

To date, all stakeholders are satisfied and the peace deal seems effective and positive. It is expected that the end of the war in Yemen, will restore peace and stability in the entire region, and the process of development, and reconstruction may start with the generous assistance of the international community. The fate of Yemen seems turned and prosperity is expected in the coming years.

 

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).     

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.