Yemen Needs Peace, But Isn’t Likely to Get It
The Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war on Yemen has always had the dubious goal of restoring Hadi, the deposed president, to power. Hadi has little support inside Yemen, and his backing for the bombing campaign over the last eight months has made him even less popular. Most of the Yemeni forces that are nominally fighting to restore his government don’t really want him in power, and it seems clear that any lasting settlement of the conflict won’t include him as president. So naturally Hadi is doing his best to derail negotiations that might eventually produce such a settlement:
Efforts to launch peace talks to end an eight-month-old war in Yemen are being thwarted in part by Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fears a negotiated settlement would drive him from power, diplomats who follow Yemen said.
U.N.-sponsored peace talks were already supposed to have started last month, but the coalition has shown little interest in negotiations all year and Hadi has shown even less. Because reimposing Hadi has been one of the major stated goals of the Saudi-led intervention, it may be difficult for the Saudis to cast him aside, but that is part of what an enduring peace settlement would require. Pressuring the Saudis to recognize this and to get them to withdraw their support for Hadi is something constructive that the Obama administration could do if it were willing to try. Unfortunately, everything we have seen from the administration on Yemen this year tells us that they won’t be. When administration officials are publicly praising and defending the intervention, we shouldn’t expect them to be doing very much to end it.
Even if the U.N.-sponsored talks go ahead, there is certainly no guarantee that they will lead to a resolution of the conflict or even a temporary cease-fire. As long as the Saudis and their allies believe that they can prevail by force, they aren’t likely to accept a compromise, but the longer that they drag this out the more the civilian population of Yemen will be made to suffer. As long as the U.S. continues to enable the coalition’s war effort with weapons, refueling, intelligence, and political support, the Saudis and their are more likely to keep waging their indefensible and atrocious war. The people of Yemen desperately need peace, but they aren’t likely to get it anytime soon.