Newsletter 18

On October 3rd 2016, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, the UN special delegate for Yemen, speaking at the UN Security Council, brought forward his opinion of the present situation. He had to admit the unsuccessfulness of his recent endeavours since the three-day ceasefire could not be extended while the violence of assaults has been further increasing.  Both the Houthis-Saleh-Fraction in Sana´a and the exiled government in Ryadh rejected Sheikh Ahmed´s roadmap.

His strategy had envisaged the setting up of a military and a security council to supervise the planned steps such as the retreat of the Houthi/Saleh (=Ansarallah/Moutamar) from the towns Sana´a, Taizz and Hodeidah (to go where?) and the handing over of weapons (to whom?). Both bodies would, furthermore, have been charged with ensuring the final ending of military disputes and the security of the population and of public institutions.

The roadmap, in parallel, provides for political measures such as the nomination of a Vice-president (who is to nominate him on the basis of which criteria?) and the formation of a unity government to arrange for the transition process and the renewal of the political dialogue, followed by a final draft of a constitution and, finally, elections.

Sheikh Ahmed explains the failure of his roadmap because:

“the political elite in Yemen remains unable to overcome their differences and prioritize national, public interest over personal interests. It is time for the parties to realize that there can be no peace without concessions, and no security without agreement. They should base their positions on the question of how to ensure security and stability for the Yemeni people.”

This allocation of blame on the Yemeni elite is certainly correct but disregards the fact that the kind of action adopted by the UN between conflict partners is totally asymmetric and biased, ignoring the difference between the Yemeni conflict partners and the belligerent nations, who are not identical.

  • Only the representatives of the elite are taking part at the UN negotiating table, anxious to retain their power, but not the different representatives of the South, new political parties, groups of civilians, women, minorities, regionals associations of interest – i.e. all those eager to make a peace agreement come true. The negotiations as undertaken by the UN accelerate the battle for power on the part of the elite, thus prolonging their aspirations to retain power.
  • The war goes on in and around alJauf, Marib, alBeidha, Lahij, Taizz, at the coast of the Red Sea and on Saudi territory. The belligerent parties, quite in a position to bring about a ceasefire, have ceased negotiating.
  • On the Yemeni side this refers to the armed followers of the Houthi and the Saleh-loyal military units, having conquered a huge part of the former North Yemen. They constitute a relatively clearly marked military unit, supported by local militia and tribes.
  • The wartime enemy is Saudi Arabia, with the support of the USA, Great Britain and the rest of the coalition leading a permanent and only sporadically interrupted air war since 26th March, 2015, against the area conquered by the Houthi/Saleh. On the ground support is given by a faltering and decreasing number of various units of mercenaries, local militia of the Salafis, the secessionists, resistance groups with very different motivations and, increasingly, also alQaida. The exiled president Hadi, while fully dependent on his host Saudi Arabia, with no military or political backing, neither in the North nor in the South, proclaims legitimately representing the interests of the Yemen and the Yemeni. He is not even ready to share political power with a vice president, but insists on exerting power as “internationally acknowledged President.”
  • Saudi Arabia, the USA, the Emirates and Great Britain, the parties engaged in this war, meet , partly also with other „friends“ of Yemen, at summits where it is pronounced that the war must be finished without delay because of the humanitarian situation but apparently are not even prepared to negotiate an end of air raids. The USA und GB increasingly attempt to distance themselves from civilian mass bombing in Yemen because of criticism in their own countries, but Saudi-arabian F 16 cannot carry out flights over Yemen without refuelling by US tanker aircraft. The USA could very well stop the bomb war any time but obviously do not want to.

The Yemen agenda of the UN has entered a dead alley because of the completely asymmetric construction of the negotiation levels, no negotiations between real war opponents, and missing roadmaps, with no hope for a possible way out at the time being, less so since the UN acts under massive pressure and influence of Saudi Arabia. Thus, it will hardly be possible to revise UN Security Council resolution 2216, which cemented the insolvability of the conflict. In addition, the war in Yemen has started, to an increasing extent, to play the role of a deputy or model in a new order of the Middle East.

The military attacks against the civilian population in Yemen have become ever more brutal since the beginning of October. Simultaneously, the danger of this war taking regional dimensions and even leading to international conflicts increases, in particular as regards the shipping traffic in the Red Sea.

On October 1st  the Houthi/Saleh-units bombed a military vessel of the UAE from the South coast of the Red Sea and caused heavy damage. On October 8th the Saudi – with US support – bombed a funeral ceremony in the centre of Sana´a. The target had obviously been Ali Abdullah Saleh (who supposedly should have been eliminated to compensate Hadi´s loss of power, but did not attend), and also the leadership ranks of the Moutamar and the Houthis. More than 150 persons, primarily the Houthi and Moutamar elite, died in this one-two punch, more than 500 were injured. The US-destroyer USS Masson subsequently claimed having been attacked three times by bullets from the Yemeni Western coast and, retaliating, devastated three radar installations of the Houthi/Saleh. Obviously with a view to avoiding an international escalation in the Red Sea the USA withdrew the accusation that the bullets had been Houthi-Saleh weaponry. It was no longer known where from and whether the bullets had been fired at all at the US-Masson. The so far latest event was a Scud-Rocket attack of the Houthis towards Mekka-Jeddah. The Houthis maintain they wanted to hit the military airport in Jeddah, where from bomb flights to Yemen start. Saudi media claim, however, the rocket attack which they allegedly fought off, had been directed at the Kaaba in Mekka and used this claim to fuel massive anti-Shia propaganda in Sunni countries.

Meanwhile the humanitarian situation keeps pitifully deteriorating and is dramatically aggravated by measures ordered by Hadi, such as the transfer of the Yemeni Central Bank to Aden (where it was immediately raided). The publicly employed staff representing a major part of employees have not been paid their salaries for two months, cholera is spreading, the number of extremely malnourished children and grown-ups keeps steadily increasing. More than three million people have become refugees inside the country.

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