International Crisis Group has issued a report summarizing the steps that need to be taken by all players in the war in Yemen to achieve a general ceasefire and improve the chances of a durable political settlement. Even before Saudi Arabia launched its military campaign in Yemen, the country was deeply divided: “the intervention has layered a multidimensional, thus more intractable, regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran onto an already complex civil war, significantly complicating prospects for peace.” The result is an increasingly entrenched conflict with no end in sight, according to ICG.
Each side’s commitment to UN-led peace talks is lukewarm. Neither is defeated or exhausted; both believe they can make additional military gains; and neither has been willing to make the compromises required to end the violence.
International Crisis Group makes a number of recommendations for each party to ensure a general ceasefire and a durable political settlement. These recommendations include participation by the government of Yemen, the Houthis, and Saleh’s GPC--without delay or preconditions--in UN-brokered negotiations. The Saudi-led coalition must encourage government support for the UN special envoy’s negotiating agenda and suspend military action in San’a as a show of goodwill prior to negotiations.
The UN Security Council permanent members, especially the U.S., UK, and France, must back the UN special envoy and condition the supply of weapons and ammunition to Saudi-led coalition members on their support for an immediate ceasefire and inclusive political negotiations.
Crisis Group also recommends that negotiations be expanded to include additional Yemeni stakeholders, such as the Sunni Islamist Islah party, Salafi groups, and the Southern Resistance. These negotiations should include regional security concerns and Yemen’s economic reconstruction.