Winding down Yemen’s civil war and achieving peace

04/03/2021 - 18:00
Amatalim Al-Soswa ,Alistair Burt, Jonathan Powell, Abdulghani Al-Iryani
Venue: Virtual meeting, by Zoom

A webinar discussion via Zoom 

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Can the US first steps prove successful?  What role can Britain play?  How can the necessary degree of reconciliation be achieved?

Background

President Biden has made a number of policy announcements in his first days in office: the suspension of arms sales to KSA and UAE, and the reversal of the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organisation) to allow the continued flow of food imports and aid into Yemen. From all reports the President and the new appointees in his administration are committed to prioritising attempts to end Yemen’s war.  With Saudi mediation, the Riyadh Agreement has been resuscitated, providing a more unified, if still unstable, position between the GoY and STC.  But on the ground the war continues with the familiar model of attack and counter measures, with if anything increased political intransigence.

Questions arising to address at the event

Is the external political environment of this war shifting sufficiently to see a mutual withdrawal of regional players (particularly KSA, UAE and Iran), removing the proxy dimension to the war.

What role can the UK play in support of such moves (ex-colonial power, major donor, UN penholder, major arms supplier)?  What are the constraints that hold it back?

What would ‘leaving it to the Yemenis’ mean for the continuation of the war and peace-making efforts?  The feeling is that it would likely shorten the war, but what is the new dynamic at that point?

Compromise and reconciliation will be needed to end the war.  What do we learn from other conflicts such as Northern Ireland, Ethiopia or Rwanda?  All these were intractable bloody conflicts that engendered considerable hatreds, but which eventually came to an end, with politicians and the divided population learning to live with each other again.

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