Hadi Jumaans’ Successful Humanitarian Missions in Yemen—A Strategic Analysis
In this presentation I explore the negotiation techniques of Hadi Jumaan, a local Yemeni mediator and negotiator who facilitates the exchange of prisoners of war in Yemen and the retrieval of human remains from the frontlines of the ongoing civil and sectarian war engulfing Yemen. Jumaan has had incredible success crossing sectarian divides where political consensus, common ground, and sustained conflict resolution have consistently failed. Hadi Jumaan is a welcome exception to the general rule of political deadlocks suffocating the Yemeni population suffering since the Arab Spring.
Jumaans’ negotiations are analyzed through his interactions with four distinct sets of actors in Yemen: (1) tribal entities, (2) non-state actors (3) government and quasi-government agents, and (4) foreign governments. In a unique Yemeni context, I argue Jumaan has achieved successful resolution of hundreds of negotiations and mediations through attaining a neutral status among most of the stakeholders he interacts with—a truly singular achievement for a conflict where no actors have been able to continuously maintain neutrality and effectively work inside Yemen for sustained periods of time. Despite this turbulent environment, Jumaan has been able to maintain this status. While instances exist of successful conflict resolution achievements at a grassroots level on a case-by-case basis, Jumaan stands alone in his perpetual ability to continue achieving results in the hostile environments in which he works transiting shifting borders and political alliances throughout Yemen. Although national and international entities have generally failed to achieve lasting political and military solutions in Yemen, grassroots negotiators by contrast have achieved solutions throughout the conflict. Hadi Jumaan best represents these local negotiators. This paper further extrapolates that Jumaans’ successes are unable to be scaled up to a national level in Yemen for a likely inability to maintain his neutral status on a wider stage with more complicated negotiating partners.
This paper conducts its research using Howard Raiffa’s synthesized approach to decision making— an interconnection of decision analysis, behavioral decision making, game theory, and negotiation analysis— with a particular focus in scholarship on crisis and hostage negotiating. This presentation’s research is derived from interviews with Jumaan and questionnaires of his interlocutors analyzing the decision-making characteristics of his negotiations and mediations conducted since 2011. This presentation builds on research of humanitarian negotiators in a Syrian from 2011 comparing lessons learned from that context with Hadi Jumaan in Yemen.