Concessions from UN envoy Martin Griffiths and Houthi intransigence

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

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Those who believe that ideologized groups seek the interests of their countries or are capable of finding political solutions are doomed to failure. Adopting “the policy of begging” with them only makes them more stubborn.

This is exactly what has happened at the Geneva conference on Yemen a few days ago, where the legitimate government delegation attended the talks and waited, but the Houthis did not turn up and invented trivial excuses for not attending.

This action proves how the Houthis disregard the UN and its special envoy to Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths who right after he announced that the Houthis will not attend, he added that he will go to Muscat and Sanaa to renegotiate with the Houthis. He did not even express his displeasure at the Houthi’s actions and did not reprimand them for not committing to the understanding which he had personally reached, as if it was given that the Houthis would let him down from the beginning.

After Griffiths’ press conference, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, also the head of the legitimate government delegation, held a press conference in which he spoke with unprecedented candor about the discontent expressed by the UN envoy behind closed doors concerning the truancy of the Houthi delegation and its illogical demands to get out some wounded Houthis along with trainers from the terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah from Yemen. This condition is out of the scope of the preparation for the Geneva conference. Thus Al-Yamani was angry and declared that Griffiths takes a contradictory position publicly and privately.

When politics fail in war, armies start to move in, and Yemen is not an exception. Thus the Yemeni army, the popular Resistance and the Coalition to support legitimacy have started to move again on all fronts that had witnessed calm in the past period in an attempt to pave the way for a political solution that everyone believes is the best solution. However, the Houthis are resisting a political solution in disregard of the challenges facing the Yemeni people in terms of poverty, hunger, epidemics and the plight of education in the areas they control.

The Houthis are resisting a political solution in disregard of the challenges facing the Yemenis in terms of poverty, hunger and epidemics.

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

Flaws in UN approach

The way the UN approaches the Yemeni crisis has plenty of flaws and its positon on the armed and terrorist Houthi militia that staged a coup is incomprehensible. Dealing with it, as if it is legitimate by any means is completely wrong. It is a terrorist and armed militia that has overtaken authority in some areas in Yemen that does not exceed 20%. Negotiating with it should be about disarming it, its exit from the areas it occupies and about renouncing violence and terrorism, but what is happening is exactly the opposite.

When dealing with the Houthis in this way, the UN is committing a mistake. It is prolonging the armed conflict and delaying the liberation of Yemen from the terrorist militia. According to history and logic, such militias only understand the language of force and weapons, and they will not abandon any of their gains for political negotiations.

This is what makes the real and actual solution dependent on the legitimate government, the Yemeni army and the Coalition to get the militia to accept the conditions of force; the force of rights and weapons.

The noose is tightening on the Houthis as the table has turned against them. Time has become their main and fiercest enemy. This has been one of the legitimacy’s and the Coalition’s biggest successes in the past phase. All the givens on the ground indicate sequential defeats of the terrorist militias on all fronts, especially at the Hodeidah front which fully controlling all its crossing points towards the Houthis’ areas have become near.

The next military escalation will further subjugate the Houthis, weaken them and deepen their losses and defeats. It would not be easy for the Houthis to confront another wave of tight military confrontation.

In the end, due to the mandate that governs the mission of special envoys in war, they usually do not succeed in solving crises. The Syrian and Yemeni crises are the best evidence to that.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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