No winners in Yemen war


There is now a glimmer of hope of bringing the two warring sides in Yemen to the negotiating table with a view to ending the fighting that plunged the country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

More than 12 million Yemeni people are now on the brink of starvation, especially children. The US has joined the UN and other nations in applying pressure on the two sides to end the war. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis has called for an immediate ceasefire between the Saudi-Emirati led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has been busy holding talks with Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh and Mohammed Ali Al Houthi, head of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee, in Sanaa amidst increasing voices calling for ceasefire talks in Sweden as early as next month.

There are no winners in the three-year armed conflict and the Yemeni people remain the biggest loser. With no prospect for a military victory by either side, it must have dawned on both warring parties to give peace a chance.

Previous efforts have failed to end the war. In 2016, there were efforts to arrive at a ceasefire but to no avail. Back in September of this year, there was yet another daring effort by the UN to bring the two sides to the peace table in Geneva, but that vain attempt also faltered when the Houthis failed to even attend.

Yet, conditions in Yemen have changed for the worse and both sides now realise that victory is no longer attainable. Both sides have now reconciled themselves to accept first a ceasefire, and then a peace deal based on sensible compromises on the part of both sides.

Riyadh and Tehran must have also reached the decision that the continuation of the Yemeni war will not lead to a decisive victory for either side. It is unfortunate that the warring parties could not realise earlier that fighting at the expense of the Yemeni people will not lead to victory for either side. But as the saying goes, better late than never.

There is now growing hope that when the two sides meet in Sweden next month, they will arrive with renewed conviction that Yemen desperately needs a political solution rather than a military one. With this change of state of mind, the suffering and plight of Yemeni people may, at last, end.


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