The suffering of the people in Yemen is unacceptable. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the war that erupted when the Al Houthis over-ran capital Sana’a and Aden in September 2014 and ousted the legitimate government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Around 14 million people are on the verge of famine in what the United Nations calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The civil war that ravaged Yemen also posed a major threat to the security of the region. The world cannot stand idly and watch the horrors inflicted on the Yemenis. A political solution is imperative to rescue the people from the clutches of conflict and misery wrought by the militia and their political masters in Iran.
A solution can only spring from negotiations. The Al Houthis have an aversion to peace talks, and previous attempts to bring them to the negotiating table have collapsed spectacularly. The efforts of UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to organise talks to find a political solution is laudable and should receive all-round support. But the Al Houthis seem to make a mockery of such initiatives as was evident from their refusal to attend the Geneva talks in September. The rebels may have good reason to keep the fires of conflict burning. The war has been a money-spinner. Take the case of the Red Sea port of Hodeida, the lifeline of millions of Yemenis who depend on humanitarian supplies that come through the port. The Al Houthis run the port operations and generate enough revenue to bankroll the war. The port also helps run their smuggling operations and allows them to bring in the consignments of weapons shipped from Iran.
Four years of fighting and the Al Houthis have not been able to achieve their ambition to take control of the country. In fact, of late, the rebels have been suffering heavy losses at the hands of government forces and resistance groups, and this should prompt them to seek a political solution. If not, international and regional pressure should be ramped up to force the rebels to attend the talks on a potential solution. If the world community is unable to persuade the rebels to engage in dialogue, the militant groups should be uprooted from the country. To reach a comprehensive political solution, the negotiations should focus on three aspects: the UN resolutions, the Gulf initiative and the Yemen National Dialogue. And as a confidence-building measure, the Al Houthis should immediately cease their reckless ballistic missile attacks on the densely-populated neighbourhoods in Saudi Arabia. A solution that undermines Saudi security is no solution at all. Time is of the essence. All efforts to find a solution should be speeded up. Yemen needs peace. The Yemenis need a life.