Saudi Diplomacy Won’t Bring Peace to Yemen

March 29 2023

Last Sunday marked the eighth anniversary of a Saudi-led alliance’s intervention in the Yemeni civil war, intended to defeat the Iran-backed Houthi militia that had overthrown the previous government. In the wake of the rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran, diplomats are hoping that the talks between the Saudis and the Houthis—which have been ongoing since last summer—will finally succeed in ending the war. To Nadwa Al-Dawsari, such an outcome seems highly unlikely:

The Houthis’ military gains have allowed them to dictate the path of international diplomacy in Yemen. They know Saudi Arabia is desperate to extricate itself and the international community wants the Yemen problem to go away. They do not recognize and refuse to negotiate with the [Riyadh-supported] Presidential Leadership Council or other Yemeni factions that they cast as “Saudi mercenaries.”

Indeed, even as the Houthis were making progress in talks with the Saudis, the rebel group continued to expand its recruitment, mobilization, and stockpiling of arms during last year’s truce as Iran significantly increased its weapons shipments. The group also carried out a series of attacks. . . . On March 23, the Houthis conducted a military drill close to the Saudi border to remind the Saudis of “the cost of no agreement and further concessions.”

The Houthis are still part and parcel of Iran’s so-called “axis of resistance.” With the Houthis gaining international political recognition, . . . Iran will have a greater chance to expand its influence in Yemen with the blessing of Western powers. The international community is eager for a “success story” in Yemen, even if that means a sham political settlement that will likely see the civil war continue. A deal with the Houthis is Saudi Arabia’s desperate plea to wash its hands of Yemen, but in the long term it could very well position Iran to threaten regional and international security. More importantly, it might set Yemen on a course of protracted conflict that will create vast ungoverned spaces.

Meanwhile, tensions in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and its ostensible ally, the United Arab Emirates, are rising, while the Houthis are developing the capability to launch missiles at Israel or to block a crucial Middle Eastern maritime chokepoint in the Red Sea.

Read more at Middle East Institute

More about: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan