Sanaa Peace Talks Closest Yemen and KSA Have Been To Ending War: UN Envoy
Orinoco Tribune, April 14, 2023 —
Despite growing optimism for a comprehensive peace agreement, questions remain on whether the UAE is ready to abandon its occupation of southern Yemen and the Socotra archipelago
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg on 10 April said that ongoing peace talks between Yemen and Saudi Arabia are the “closest Yemen has been to real progress towards lasting peace,” adding that this moment must be “seized.”
“This is a moment to be seized and built on and a real opportunity to start an inclusive political process under UN auspices to sustainably end the conflict,” Grundberg told AP.
Over the last several days, officials from Saudi Arabia and Oman have been holding peace talks with Yemen’s National Salvation Government (NSG) in the capital Sanaa.
The talks are being conducted without the involvement of any UN or western representatives.
Ali al-Qahoum – a member of the political bureau of NSG-allied resistance group Ansarallah – on 11 April hailed Oman’s efforts in bridging the gap between Sanaa and Riyadh and said progress is being made to end the eight-year war.
“There is, praise be to God, great progress in achieving a just peace that meets the aspirations and sacrifices of the Yemeni people in stopping the aggression, lifting the siege, ending the occupation, expelling foreign forces, reconstruction, reparations, and the implementation of humanitarian files,” Qahoum tweeted.
The Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber, expressed similar sentiments on Tuesday, hailing the ongoing efforts to “discuss paths of dialogue between the Yemeni parties to reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution.”
His comments were the first by Saudi Arabia on the peace talks. They also coincided with an announcement by the Saudi-appointed parallel government in Aden to complete a prisoner swap deal with the NSG.
“Regarding the deal for prisoners signed in Geneva with the other party under the auspices of the United Nations, we announce that the Yemeni government team is ready to implement the deal at the specified time announced by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” Yahya Kazman, the head of the parallel government’s negotiation committee, said in a statement.
Last year, the NSG and Saudi-appointed Yemeni officials signed a UN-brokered deal to free 2,000 prisoners, but their release was disrupted due to mutual violations of the agreement.
The Saudi-led war has caused close to 400,000 deaths in the Arab world’s poorest nation, nearly 60 percent of them caused by issues like lack of access to food, water, and healthcare, according to the UN.
Riyadh and Sanaa have been holding Omani-mediated talks for months to renew a UN-sponsored ceasefire, but the prospect of ending Yemen’s eight-year war has advanced quickly since last month, when China brokered a détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
But despite the optimism of officials on all sides, questions remain about whether the UAE will sign off on a peace deal and agree to remove its forces from southern Yemen.
Through the Southern Transitional Council (STC) – a second parallel administration established by Abu Dhabi – the UAE controls most of Yemen’s southern ports, where Yemeni oil is exported from.
The UAE is also occupying several strategic islands off Yemen’s coast and is in the process of establishing a “maritime empire” in Yemeni waters.
Because of this, analysts have suggested that the UAE is uninterested in a solution that ends the war in Yemen.
According to a report by Yemeni news outlet Al Masirah, in recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has deployed its forces to southern Yemen and Socotra to extend its influence and possibly forestall any disruption to the peace process.