OCTOBER 6, 2022
To date the civil war within Yemen has claimed close to 400,000 lives and left the majority of the country’s people reliant on humanitarian aid in order to get by. As of October, according to CBS News world report, the six-month ceasefire without a truce agreement to replace it has dissolved. U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking told reporters within the State Department that he feared the failure to reach a new peace agreement will bring a “return to war.”
Lenderking also said that if the fighting between Yemen’s Saudi Arabian-backed central government and the Iranian-backed Houthis who hold a huge portion of the Arabian nation, does resume, it will “bring nothing but casualties and destruction to Yemen and will create further confusion as to where this conflict is headed.”
The Houthis, whom he references are blamed for the failure of the negotiations. Based on reading the CBS article as well as two by BBC. It has been made clear to me that the fighting was indeed likely to resume, as a return to military operations seemed also imminent.
This comes six months after Yemen’s government and the Houthis failed to strike a deal to extend the six-month nationwide ceasefire with the help of the UN. Lenderking cited in the world report that he, blamed the Houthi rebels, accusing them of “imposing maximalist and impossible demands that the parties simply could not reach.”
The truce had brought relative peace to Yemen after years of vicious fighting in the civil war that erupted in 2015. As of the end of 2021, the conflict had left more than 377,000 people dead, according to the U.N.
The real tragedy in all of this is that about two thirds of those people have died is not from actual warfare, the U.N. says, but the consequent humanitarian crisis “indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.”
The war has left 73% of Yemen’s population of 30 million entirely dependent on humanitarian aid.
Lenderking said “key elements of the truce” were still holding, but there were reports of “low level” violence re-emerging around the country.
Despite this, “Fuel ships continue to offload,” Lenderking noted, this has enabled key essential goods to enter the country. “There will be more continuity in civilian, commercial flights from Sanaa airport. These particular elements of the truce have been extremely effective and have delivered tangible results to the Yemeni people over the last six months.”
Regarding the ceasefire, it has been a game of give and take. One of the key points in the failed negotiations was getting Yemeni state employees paid. For some Yemeni State employees, it has been years since they have received a stable salary.
This has been a key bargaining point of both parties, to have the ability to pay Yemeni civil servants who have not been paid for many years: teachers, nurses, and government officials alike.
The Houthi negotiating team has demanded that police, military and other security personnel get their back-pay first.
Nasreddine Amer a spokesperson for the Houthis. has repeatedly echoed how Houthi demands are not impossible. “We only demand a true right of the Yemeni people… Those employees have children, wives and families that they support from those salaries that were stopped. When we demand such payments, isn’t that a humanitarian request?”
He also accused Washington of backing the “stubborn” stance taken by the Saudi-led coalition.
“They did not adhere to the terms of the truce. So as the truce ended and they are still stubborn, I expect a return to military operations,” he said. “This is not an analysis but an official declaration by our armed forces.” In my opinion an apt indictor of the current inflection point Yemeni-U.S. relations are at.