Monday, April 10, 2023

Could talks in Yemen bring a breakthrough to end years of war? | Inside Story

I was on Al Jazeera English TV channel discussing if talks between Houthis and Saudi Arabia could bring a breakthrough to end years of war in Yemen: 


Many of my family members kept texting me asking me in disbelief if the photo of the Saudi ambassador and the Houthi leader shaking hands was true or photographed. Clearly, so many Yemenis didn't imagine this day would come and are in disbelief. Death, pain, suffering, and destruction have been embedded in people's minds in Yemen for the past 8 years which really have left millions traumatized. I wasn't surprised when I felt this disbelief reaction.

The key question now: are these talks going to lead to lasting peace in Yemen? It's still unclear at this stage all the details of the Saudi-Houthi initial political agreement. However, I think without solving Yemen’s internal political problems, it will be impossible to bring about lasting peace. For example, without addressing Yemen's internal conflicts and political tensions; which include the southern movement aiming for secession, Houthi attacks on Marib, and Hadrmout calling for secession as well, it will be so difficult to achieve lasting peace across all of Yemen.

So, What is needed for lasting peace? I think we should learn from Yemen's recent past and the transitional period after Yemen’s 2011 uprising. The GCC at the time intervened with a power-transfer deal that ignored transitional justice - which played a role in triggering the civil conflict. To ensure a lasting peace today, besides addressing Yemen's internal conflicts and political tensions, we need to learn from the recent past & understand that Transitional justice is key. Some think it's too early to discuss the need for reparations & redress to war victims by all parties to the conflict, but I think this is fundamental as one peril of lasting peace.