10 November 2021
The International Christian University, Japan, the Center for Mediation in Africa, and the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria organised a workshop on the Peace initiative in Yemen to address challenges and possible opportunities for peace building in Yemen on 8 November 2021
Head of Mission from Yemen, Ambassador Ahmed Hassan, Chargé D’Affaires of the Republic of Yemen, His Excellency Ambassador Sultan Al-Angari of Saudi Arabia and His Excellency Ambassador Tariq Al-Ansari of Qatar, Diplomatic Staff from the different Embassies, officials from the Department of International Relations, Academia and Civil Society attended the workshop moderated by Anas-Al-Hamati, a humanitarian and development worker.
Peace building is never easy and so there is still a lot of work to do, but since this conflict flared up in 2014, there is confidence on all sides that this conflict can be resolved.
Houthi rebel fighters entered Sanaa in September 2014 and took full control in January 2015. The conflict stems from the failure of a political process supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an uprising in 2011 that forced its long-time President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The conflict has killed a quarter of a million people and has torn apart countless families in Yemen. It has forced four million people to flee their homes. The UN says the war has resulted in shocking levels of suffering. In December 2020, it reported that the conflict had caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded as a direct result of the fighting, including more than 10,000 children because of the escalation of hostilities in 2021.
In his statement Dr Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yemen said, “The war in Yemen has caused huge losses on all political, economic and social levels and has left enormous destruction with which Yemen will need many years to recover and resulted in a collapse in the economy.”
Dr Mubarak said despite everything, Yemenis have not lost hope and their adherence to the process to achieve the desired peace despite the intransigence of the Houthis and their decision to stay away from the political process to end the war. The Minister called for a ceasefire and preparation of conditions to end the conflict.
Ambassador Mohammed Dangor, Former Ambassador of South Africa to Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia reiterated the importance of a Yemeni solution to Yemen’s problems as was the case when South Africans negotiated a settlement to end the brutal Apartheid regime.
The leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia affirmed its position to accept the political solution based on the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanisms, the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue, and Security Council Resolution 2216. The Saudi initiative announced in March 2021 to end the crisis included a comprehensive ceasefire, opening of Sana’a Airport, entry of all ships into the port of Hodeidah with the deposit of taxes and customs in the joint account based on the Stockholm Agreement.
The Kingdom denounces the role played by the terrorist Houthi militia in the process of obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid, and affirms that the Houthi practices are exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest donor countries to Yemen. The total amount provided by the Saudi Kingdom to Yemen exceeded approximately ($17,500,000,000) through King Salman Center and Humanitarian Action, the Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen, and the Masam project to clear Yemeni lands of mines. An amount of $442 million from the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen has been earmarked to operate power stations in liberated Yemen governorates.
Yemen’s peace process is just recommencing with the Peace Initiative workshop being what the international community can do to assist, given that Yemen already faces enough obstacles to peace. A non-inclusive peace process could certainly derail efforts to end the war altogether. Yemen’s conflict is at a critical juncture because almost seven years of fighting has made the war more complex. So far, the Envoys’ efforts have largely focused on negotiating a ceasefire and agreement on the basis for a new political process between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government of Yemen. This is only the first step in a much longer process. A comprehensive peace process should not go forward without a more inclusive framework for negotiation.
By Susan Novela, The Diplomatic Informer Magazine