The latest attempt to negotiate an end to the war on Yemen has failed:
But despite making what the United Nations called “serious progress” in the discussions, repeated violations of the cease-fire appeared to have doomed the current round, according to a statement issued by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen. He said that the negotiations would resume in mid-January.
The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has been going on for the last nine months with U.S. and British support, and it now seems to certain to drag on well into next year. Each time there is a chance of a prolonged halt to the fighting, neither side respects the cease-fire and it breaks down. The latest round seemed the most promising attempt thus far as the futility of the conflict has become increasingly obvious, but this round of talks has ended with the same result. Perhaps the talks in January will be more successful, but there is little reason to expect that they will be.
All parties to the conflict are responsible for this outcome, but the intervening governments bear a very large share of the blame for having escalated and internationalized an internal conflict earlier this year. Far from making a negotiated settlement easier, the involvement of outside forces has had the opposite effect, and they have been inflicting enormous damage on the civilian population in the process. To make matters worse, the Saudis and their allies are under no pressure from their Western supporters to reach a settlement or even to ease the blockade that has been starving the population for most of the last year. The U.S. and Britain continue to provide the Saudis with the weapons they require to continue their campaign and they are putting no pressure on the Saudi-led coalition to halt the campaign, and until that changes the Saudis will be in no hurry to accept a compromise.
Iona Craig recently wrote about the U.K. role in the war on Yemen. Here she details some of her findings about the Saudi-led bombing campaign:
The evidence I collected from witnesses and survivors clearly indicated that civilians are, at best, being indiscriminately killed and, in some cases, targeted [bold mine-DL]. Despite a strong likelihood that British weapons are being used – Britain exported more than 1,000 bombs to Saudi in the first six months of 2015 – to target civilians and civilian infrastructure, the UK government refuses to recognise its complicity in clear breaches of international humanitarian law.
Craig goes on to list some of the most serious effects of the atrocious Saudi-led war:
On top of all this, UN agencies have warned of mass famine, brought on by the blockade of Yemen’s sea and air ports imposed by the Saudi coalition, which is preventing vital food, fuel and medical supplies from entering the country. Aid agencies say Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is now the worst in the world, with more than 21 million people in need of some form of humanitarian aid. The combined threats of air strikes, a ground war and famine are likely to contribute to the already overwhelming European migrant crisis.
More than 2.3 million Yemenis have been internally displaced by the war, many forcibly by the bombings, while more than 160,000 people have arrived in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan to escape the conflict. The majority took the treacherous journey by boat across the Bab-el-Mandeb strait that separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa.
The humanitarian disaster in Yemen continues to grow worse the longer that the war goes on. Millions of civilians are being starved to death with the support of our government, millions have been displaced by fighting that our government is helping to fuel, and thousands have been killed and many thousands more wounded by weapons the U.S. has sold to the Saudis. The horrifying effects of the war on Yemen are very gradually starting to be noticed in the U.S. and Britain, but the war is still mostly ignored and neither Obama nor Cameron faces much criticism or scrutiny for the support they are lending to the coalition.