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Squandering an Opportunity for Peace in Yemen

The Bloomberg editors call on the U.S. to pressure the Saudis into participating in U.N.-sponsored peace talks now that the Houthis and Saleh have agreed to the U.N. peace plan:

The onus is now on the Saudis to respond. If they balk, the Obama administration should quietly remind them that some members of Congress are themselves balking at the future sale of munitions for their Yemen campaign.

Predictably, the Hadi government dismissed the agreement to the U.N. terms as a “maneuver” and appears to have no intention of participating in the talks. The U.S. should still try to pressure the Saudis to change Hadi’s position, but the fact that Hadi remains intransigent presumably reflects the coalition’s preference to continue the campaign. Even so, there is an opportunity here to resume peace talks and potentially halt this most unnecessary and senseless of wars. To make the most of it the U.S. has to use whatever influence it has with its clients to get Hadi to participate in that process. The U.S. should never have been involved in this war, but because it has been supporting for more than six months it is incumbent on the Obama administration to do what it can to repair the damage it has helped to cause.

If this chance is squandered, the editors point out that the war will likely drag on for quite some time while continuing to exacerbate the country’s political divisions:

Yet not only is an outright military victory against the Houthis highly unlikely, it will do nothing to solve Yemen’s underlying political problems. In addition to pitting the Houthis in the north against the central government, the war has also revived secessionist hopes in the south, which until 1990 was a separate country. Worse, the turmoil has created openings for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and for Islamic State.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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