There is a glimmer of hope in Yemen. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s call to turn a new page in relations with the Saudi-led coalition has given rise to hopes of possible talks that could lead to the resolution of the protracted conflict in the country. Saleh’s words will have a withering impact in Tehran. His olive branch meant that Iran’s designs to destabilise Yemen and the region through the Al Houthi militia has been an abject failure. The former Yemeni ruler’s move to disassociate from the rebel alliance led by the Al Houthis is overwhelming proof.

The Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition fighting to restore the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was quick to welcome Saleh’s initiative. It has sensed an opportunity to bring peace to the strife-torn country.

True, Saleh cannot be trusted since he had allied with the rebel militia. But talks with Saleh is a better bet than the Al Houthis, whose influence is limited to the north, more precisely the Sa’ada governorate.

Moreover, the Iranian stranglehold on the Al Houthis makes them disinterested in pursuing peace as evident from their refusal to take part in the UN-sponsored negotiations. The Al Houthi intentions to keep Yemen permanently in a vortex of violence is apparent as it continues to fire Iranian-made missiles at Riyadh.

In contrast, Saleh enjoys the backing of several key tribes and, having ruled the country for 33 years, he has access to a complex web of alliances and an innate understanding of Yemeni society and politics. And he remains the leader of the largest party in the country, the General People’s Congress.

Saleh now gets a chance to make amends for his betrayal and return his party to the Arab fold. His forces seemed to have gained the upper hand in the fierce clashes with the Al Houthis, who have lost control of several key military posts and ministries in the north. If this trend continues, the militia and its masters in Tehran will soon be consigned to the dustbin of Yemeni history.

Three years is a long time for a civil strife. Yemen and its people have suffered enough. Malaria and malnutrition have ravaged Yemenis. Hospitals and other medical facilities are badly damaged. Aid supplies continue to elude people.

Twenty million of Yemen’s population of 25 million are sorely in need of assistance and eight million of them are on the verge of acute famine. To save them, the war must end. Saleh’s overture will go a long way towards achieving that.