Where the international community has dragged its feet, US President Donald Trump has made an important and bold statement on Yemen.
This week he vetoed a congressional resolution that would end US support for the Saudi-led Arab coalition and Yemeni government, who are fighting Iran-backed Al Houthi militants. This adds urgency towards reaching a political solution in Yemen where the conflict entered its fourth year in March.
Because the international community has not firmly criticised Al Houthis’ intransigence towards implementing a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden in December, the militants have dragged their feet. This has only prolonged the suffering of the Yemeni people.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition which is fighting to restore Yemen’s internationally-recognised government has shown good faith by halting its hugely successful push along Yemen’s Red Sea coast to liberate it from the Al Houthi presence. Last year it launched the lightning offensive dealing a substantial blow to Al Houthi militants, pushing them further towards their heartland in Yemen’s north.
However, because of the importance of Hodeida port for Yemeni goods, the international community asked for a halt in the offensive to give peace talks a chance. The coalition did just that and attended the Sweden talks in good faith, sitting down face to face with Al Houthis for the first time.
When the deal was reached, Yemeni rival parties were globally lauded for their achievement. However, the fanfare was short-lived as in the following months Al Houthis violated the ceasefire more than one thousand times.
While the war is an ugly situation, the blame falls squarely on Al Houthis, who, with the backing of Iran, are seeking to prolong it. That is why an agreement over the Red Sea port city of Hodeida is so critical. Iran has abused the port, which is the country’s main conduit for aid and goods, by smuggling in weapons to sustain Al Houthis’ military efforts. Some of these weapons, like ballistic missiles, have been launched on Saudi soil, threatening the lives of civilians. The global community has failed to condemn these acts, which are illegal under international law.
There needs to be more direct criticism against these unlawful actions and more pressure on Iran to cease its support. Only then, will there be real movement and progress politically. It is high time for the Al Houthi coup and subsequent occupation of Yemeni territory to end.