Gulf plan key to Yemen solution

The parties fighting in Yemen are not yet willing to accept a political solution to the crisis. This inevitably means that peace talks in Muscat, the upcoming Geneva negotiations and other bilateral meetings being held across the region won’t amount to much. Neither will a repeat of the recent Houthi attack on southern Saudi borders achieve anything for the rebels.

There is seemingly no desire for all parties to reach consensus over a reasonable solution to the crisis, unless either side claims a partial military victory or the incapability to carry on fighting.

But what makes negotiations a good path for the legitimate government and its allies is that the major mediators are sticking by U.N. Security Council resolutions and the reconciliation plan approved by all Yemenis, including the Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who later turned against it after realizing how easy it was to take over the capital Sanaa.

Legitimate or not?

Mediators have informed the Houthis that they refuse to negotiate over the latter’s military presence in Yemeni cities. However, the legitimate government has also confronted the problem of how to categorize the Yemeni army (whether legitimate or not), which until the fall of Sanaa was the army of legitimacy. It is no longer as such, as many of its brigades joined the rebels and some of its leaders declared their loyalty to Saleh.

The Gulf project will be the only possible solution to resort to, because it is reasonable and based on letting Yemenis decide their fate via U.N.-supervised elections.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

There is now a complicated situation in Yemen. The government’s army has mostly become illegitimate, while the legitimate president and government are in Riyadh. This situation is likely to continue until the end of this year. The shelling and fighting will go on, and Geneva might be useful to hold meetings, negotiate and reach a middle-ground solution among the several Yemeni fighting parties.

In this case, the Gulf project will be the only possible solution to resort to, because it is reasonable and based on letting Yemenis decide their fate via U.N.-supervised elections. The winner would thus represent the Yemeni people and form a government.

At the beginning, some Yemeni parties thought this proposal would be an easy path to take over governance. However, when Saleh in particular realized that he would neither have a part in governance nor dominate power, he decided to sabotage the plan by targeting the interim government.

Foreign parties, including the United States and Europe, will realize that the Gulf initiative is the reasonable solution for the crisis via expediting the elections and considering the results as the only legitimate reference, whoever wins.

Some parties loyal to Saleh will most likely accept this solution because they will make partial gains. However, the Houthis will object to it because they are a minority that depends on the concept of militia rule. They will only agree to it if they accept to join an expanded coalition that would guarantee some gains but may lessen their influence.

Considering the absence of wisdom and rationality, unfortunately war will reign and exhaust all Yemenis. Only then may they accept to go back to the only reasonable plan, which was disrupted the day Sanaa was occupied.
 

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 8, 2015.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
 

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