December’s peace talks in Switzerland failed to generate a solution to the war in Yemen, a war that is driven both by regional geopolitical rivalries and by factional conflicts within Yemen itself. In an op-ed for Al Jazeera, analyst Farea al-Muslimi argues that this failure is rooted in the interest of all parties involved to remain at war. According to al-Muslimi, one of the founders of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Yemen “needs a dealer who can ‘redistribute the cards’ and convince the various players to invest in peace.”
The latest round of peace talks failed because many of those involved do not know what they want out of the UN-mediated process, and because they do not believe it is in their immediate interests to have peace. After nearly a year of war in Yemen, the cycle of business, economy and power now revolves around one main thing: war. Should the fighting suddenly end, many players from both sides would stand to lose.
The Houthis appear to be most comfortable on the battlefield, and if the conflict were to end, they would have to face the undesirable reality of negotiations and power sharing. Meanwhile, former president Saleh, whose agenda differs from that of the Houthis, relies on a state of war to convince those around him that he is indispensable. The Islamist militant organizations that have made notable gains in Yemen certainly have no interest in seeing an end to the conflict that has provided them with the chaos and instability that is so easy to exploit.
Hadi is also a clear loser in any successful peace process as all parties to the conflict would need him to step aside. The Saudi-led coalition, which did not make any attempts at diplomacy prior to waging war, must understand that it will not win by military means. Finally, the West cannot believably call for peace in Yemen while also profiting from weapons sales that are bringing such destruction to the country.