On Thursday, the United Nations convened the latest round in talks to broker a fair and lasting peace, build confidence in the future, and set in place a framework that will bring stability and security to our Arab brothers in Yemen.
Right now, due to the chaos wrought by Al Houthi rebels in their selfish quest to impose their narrow sectarian agenda on the people of Yemen, there are tens of thousands left without adequate supplies of food, medicines and clean water. Humanitarian aid from international donors struggles to reach communities, while the rebel defensive positions deliberately use civilians as human shields.
Clearly, addressing this pressing crisis on the ground is a priority — and the peace talks in Geneva will need to focus on creating the conditions where nations such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia can continue to deliver the humanitarian aid they have provided so far and pledged for the future. And the only way where this can realistically happen is for Al Houthis to disarm and disengage.
It needs to be remembered that these talks in Geneva are but the latest attempt to bring security, peace and stability to Yemen. In each of the other rounds, Al Houthis were non-committal, intransigent and only acted after consultation from their political masters and armourers in Tehran. And they refused to hand over their artillery or tanks — and no realistic or practical efforts to restore a civilian administration can have a heavily armed militia holding those reconstruction efforts to ransom.
The Arab coalition acting on United Nations Security Council resolution 2216 — the UAE is indeed proud to play a key role in that coalition — is attempting to restore the legitimate government overthrown by Al Houthis. But the talks can only bring peace if all Yemeni parties engage constructively in the UN talks. And waiting for phone calls from Tehran cannot be construed as constructive engagement.
The UN’s envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has worked diligently to bring about the conditions for these peace talks — and he deserves full credit for getting all to Geneva. Certainly, all members of the Arab coalition fully respect that 2216 is aimed at restoring the legitimate government and are working on the ground and in the air to do that. While there is still a distance to go, the Geneva talks will move that process forward.
More than three years on, it’s essential that the Geneva talks build confidence and make progress. And Al Houthis know what they must do for that to happen.