Dr. Ahmed Al-Jameah
Are Houthi Militias ready to settle ongoing dispute?
The cessation of the war in Yemen and initiating anticipated political negotiations among rivals of the crisis in Sweden does not mean abandoning the three declared references of the solution or retreating from the key demand of Saudi-Arabia-led Arab Coalition that requires the return of legitimacy and restoring institutions of the Yemeni State from the grip of the Houthi Militias. Demands of the Arab Coalition include stopping any Iranian interference in the Gulf States’ internal affairs together with preserving the Yemeni gains. All these demands represent the basis of negotiation and dialogue in the upcoming period.
The US call to stop the war, sit at the negotiating table within a month and Western support for this call is not new. Everyone wants to put an end to the ongoing war in Yemen. The Yemeni government and the Arab coalition forces have been and still insist on that the solution in Yemen is political. But, the Houthi Militias that refused to attend the last round of negotiations in Geneva and froze negotiations since August 2016 in Kuwait have another viewpoint in prolonging the current conflict. Houthis search for a way to circumvent Security Council resolution No. 2216, the Gulf Initiative with its implementation mechanisms and the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue conference by supporting the Iranian project on the ground and targeting the Kingdom with missiles along with threatening the safety of the maritime navigation in the Strait of Bab al-Mandab and Red Sea. The last of these attacks was targeting Saudi oil tanker.
It is true that conditions at this current stage are different. The US has a strategic project for the Middle East region foremost among them are the confrontation of the Iranian project, the establishment of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and putting an end to the Syrian crisis. In addition, Iran itself suffers from internal economic challenges after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal together with other challenges facing its presence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon along with gains achieved by the Arab Coalition forces and the Yemeni National Army on the ground. All these new political facts should be read well by Houthis, as the Iranian ally is currently suffering from a big trouble. The US is serious about ending the Yemeni crisis and the legitimate Yemeni government backed by the Arab Coalition Forces is ready to negotiate on a clear principle based on the aforementioned three references.
The bigger question is: are Houthis ready to end the ongoing crisis after the US call and international support, or they still think of Iran’s interests and its project in Yemen? In fact, Houthis’ options are limited on the ground and no longer have an existence preserving their presence in the political process in Yemen except for negotiation table. Then, after four-year-old-armed conflict in Yemen, the Houthis will think about their own interests not others’. This is the most important point that will make Sweden's forthcoming negotiations an important turning point in the Yemeni crisis.