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The Yemeni Crisis: Opportunities and Challenges for Peace

Panel II-10, sponsored byMokha Center for Strategic Studies, 2023 Annual Meeting

On Thursday, November 2 at 5:30 pm

Panel Description
Ending the conflict in Yemen through a peace process has proven to be a problematic endeavor despite assumptions of its feasibility. While it has become common to assume that there is no military end to Yemen's conflict, the lack of a political and diplomatic solution prolongs the suffering of millions of Yemenis whose basic humanitarian needs are not met. The inability of the 2018 UN-brokered Stockholm agreement to build confidence among the conflict parties as intended has arguably led to maintaining the status quo and prolonging the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. This failure of multiple UN and International mediators to help Yemenis resolve the conflict is rooted in misunderstandings and miscalculations of Yemen's war, as well as the desire to achieve quick peace gains rather than a durable or sustainable comprehensive solution. Furthermore, assumptions that Yemen’s conflict will end with the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates do not address the internal conflicts in Yemen and the Houthis’ violence. Unfortunately, the conflict around the cities of Marib and Taiz which had further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis has made it clear that ending the role of the Gulf in Yemen's conflict would not automatically result in peace as it would leave the Houthi rebels and their Iranian patrons in a position of power on Northern areas. In the meantime, Yemen's internal dynamics and grievances are compounding during the current conflict and are presenting a further challenge to the success of the negotiations. From political and economic corruption to human rights abuses and violations of tribal norms, which affect the trajectory of peace in Yemen. This crisis presents both opportunities and challenges for achieving peace in Yemen. The opportunities for peacebuilding include international mediation, humanitarian concerns and shared interests, while the challenges that facing peace are regional interference and rivalries, local factionalism, and lack of trust between the warring parties and stakeholders. This panel will examine Yemen's internal political, legal, and socioeconomic dynamics and their impact on driving or hindering the peace process. By shedding light on the internal strife of the Yemeni community and the actors that represent them in the conflict, whether under the control of the Houthi insurgency or the internationally recognized Yemeni government, the panel aims to demonstrate that the internationally-driven peace processes will continue to face failure due to their inability to reconcile the local dynamics with international and regional calculations.
Political Science
  • The Yemeni crisis was complicated by continuing fighting for more than 8 years, which destroyed everything in Yemen, politically, economically, socially, culturally and all other services sectors. Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2014, which has led to a humanitarian crisis and widespread human rights violations. Transitional justice and peace-building are crucial for establishing lasting peace and addressing the injustices that have occurred during the conflict. This paper will focus on some tangible requirements for achieving solid transitional justice and durable peace-building in Yemen. That is including truth-seeking, accountability, reparations, etc. The peace could not be durable and lasting without transitional justice, as both of them are co-related to each other. Moreover, peacebuilding requires entire security sector reform to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, reconciliation is a critical component of peace-building, and economic solutions as the conflict have severely damaged Yemen's economy. All these requirements should be embedded with an inclusive political dialogue that should involve all the warring parties and other stakeholders in Yemen, to guarantee to reach of a sustainable peace agreement. Therefore, the international community has to play a vital and important role in supporting these efforts and promoting lasting peace in Yemen.
  • Despite the substantial reduction, of military offensives between the Houthi rebels and the Yemen national army supported by Saudi-UAE-led coalition, and especially following the October 2 expiration of a UN-brokered truce, Yemen today is far from peaceful, due to the continuation of Houthi’s attempts to break the truce by further bombarding the Yemen army and the civilians specially in Marib & Taiz governorates. The hidden indirect negotiation between Saudi’s officials & Houthi’s rebels will not lead to a sustainable peace agreement, as, these talks addressing only the demands of Houthi’s rebels to gain more assets - as salaries for their militias - from the public funds verses the Saudi’s official’s security demand to keep the southern borders safer and freer from Houthi’s rocket missiles and bombed drones’ attacks, the major files in Yemen crise are completely absent in these talks. The hidden obstacles in peace building initiatives • Missed major files in peace talks • Divine Right to rule claimed by Houthis • Conflict of interest between big players • Absent of representatives of stakeholder majority in peace talks
  • Huda Mukbil will discuss how domestic and regional security concerns perpetuate Yemen's now eight-year war. International policy considerations must include resolutions to secure the disputed Saudi Yemeni borders, unrestricted passage of oil shipments, and humanitarian aid through the Babal Al Mandab. While the international community and the United States, in particular, can leverage multilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for a negotiated political resolution with various stakeholders in Yemen, it must also find a winnable exit for Iran in Yemen. That will prove difficult given that Iran's regional ambitious and strategic calculus relied on an enduring war in Yemen. Deterrence initiatives must include diminishing Iranian weapons proliferation in the country and altering the cost-benefit analysis for Houthi militias groups. Huda will also discuss how the war in Ukraine and climate troubles exacerbate the need for immediate interventions to alleviate the suffering and humanitarian crises impacting Yemen.
  • Yemen is currently experiencing a major humanitarian crises, with a war that has raged for over six years, causing widespread death, displacement, and suffering. The role of media in this conflict is essential, as it can inform the public, shape public opinion, and ultimately impact the outcome of the war. In the paper, we will examine the role of media in Yemen's war, including its impact on the conflict and its potential to promote peace. Purpose: The purpose of this policy paper is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the role of media in Yemen's war and to recommend strategies to enhance its impact on the conflict. The paper aims to: Examine the current state of media in Yemen, including its coverage of the war and the challenges it faces. Analyze the impact of media on the conflict, including its role in shaping public opinion, promoting peace, and exposing human rights violations. Recommend strategies to improve the role of media in Yemen's war, including increased support for independent media organizations, promoting media literacy, and strengthening media regulation. The expected outcomes of this policy paper are: A comprehensive analysis of the role of media in Yemen's war and its impact on the conflict. Recommendations for enhancing the role of media in promoting peace and exposing human rights violations. A blueprint for supporting independent media organizations and promoting media literacy in Yemen.
  • As in many other Arab countries, the 2011 uprising and the following counter-revolution destabilized Yemen’s political order. Political change demands ended up in a complex civil, regional, and international war. However, what is peculiar in Yemen’s case is that the modern state established between 1970 and 2010 has come into a state of collapse and disintegration. Following the 2011 uprising and the 2014 war, the army split into fractions, the economy collapsed, state intuitions split up, and civic services institutions became dysfunctional. It is safe to say that the modern state established in the 1960s came to complete demise. It all began when waves of Yemeni tribespeople, led by Saleh-Al-Houthi’s alliance, invaded the capital on September 21, 2014. Since that moment, events accelerated to a tragic point. In 2017, the tribes that were formerly aligned with the former president, Saleh, demonstrated apathy towards his predicament as he was being besieged and subsequently assassinated by his erstwhile associate, Al-Houthi. The aforementioned events elicit a critical inquiry into the intricate and enduring interplay between the modern state and the tribes. The present study seeks to unpack the complex nature of this relationship to elucidate the role of the Yemeni tribes in both the collapse of the modern state and the ongoing war in Yemen. The principal hypothesis put forth in this paper posits that the collapse of the Yemeni state can be attributed to the inherent tension between the foreign, European-inspired modes of political organization embodied by modern statehood and the local, indigenous modes of political organization that characterize the Yemeni tribes. This study will delve into primary sociological, anthropological, and historical literature on Yemen to analyze the extensive relationship between tribes and the modern state, dating back to the establishment of the modern state in North and South Yemen in the 1960s. The significance of this research lies in the crucial role that tribes continue to play as political entities in shaping the Yemeni political landscape. Despite the tribe’s pivotal presence in this scene, it is often disregarded in academic and political circles, and is notably absent from discussions regarding any potential resolution to the conflict. This paper aims to demonstrate that any viable peace in Yemen must consider the tribe’s future role in political organization.
  • The external regional factor represents one of the most important complications of the Yemeni crisis and the continuation of the war, which is about to end its eighth year in a row. This study aims to trace the regional role of these parties and trace the paths of this regional influence on the warring Yemeni parties and how they no longer have the decision of war or peace. The study adopts the scientific research methodology through the analytical and descriptive approach to the attitudes and actions of these parties since the beginning of the crisis. This study will also attempt to answer the question of the regional role in the Yemeni crisis, by tracing the path of the great influence of these regional parties in the Yemeni crisis and to what extent these regional parties constitute real obstacles to any real settlement of the crisis and war in Yemen. Where the regional factor represents, since the beginning of the Yemeni crisis, the most important factor that ignited this war due to the influence of these regional parties on the internal Yemeni parties that do not have a political decision of their own. This is why the Yemeni war has been prolonged, because the internal parties involved in this war do not take any decisions, but rather act as internal fighting parties that receive their orders from outside the Yemeni borders. Iran represents the official sponsor of the Houthi group, and it alone is the political decision-maker for the Houthi group, and it determines for this group all its policies, war and peace, and the Houthi group cannot contradict Iranian directives for several reasons, foremost of which is the sectarian factor that subjects the Houthi group to the authority of the Iranian Shiite authority represented by Supreme Leader of the Revolution. Iranian Islamist Ali Khamenei. On the other hand, regarding internationally recognized Yemeni legitimacy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents the party most capable of directing the legitimate Yemeni government and hijacking its sovereign and political decision, and the Yemeni government cannot make any decision without it. Return to the Saudi side. And just as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does, the United Arab Emirates also behaves in the same way with the Yemeni legitimacy, as it confiscates many of its decisions, which makes the Yemeni legitimacy lose its independence and sovereignty over its political and national decision.