Yemen’s Peace Roadmap: Feasible

Yemen’s government had brushed off the recently proposed draft for a peace solution by the U.N. special delegate Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, labeling it harshly as unsound and flawed. Despite its arguable conditions, the proposition is still worth a positive take.

One of the proposal’s highly constructive features is that it preserves the constitutional legitimacy of the country, and refuses coup plots aiming to demolish the rule of law.

Mr. Ahmed’s initiative states that all insurgency militiamen should withdraw from central cities, such as Sanaa, Al Hudaydah and Taiz— more so, coup militants are urged to turn in all arms.

One must keep in mind that the above mentioned conditions had long inhibited the progress of peace talks over the past few months.

Not only does the withdrawal of militias and the hand in of illegal arms put an end to civil war, but it also proves that the only existing legitimate armed forces are those constitutionally recognized. Moving forward with the proposal also serves as a tell on whether coup forces harbor serious intentions on achieving peace for Yemen, which cannot be shown otherwise by mere political negotiations of appointed delegates.

The U.N.’s proposal also calls for the insurgents to create a cut off zone separating Saudi Arabia from Yemen; coup militants would retreat behind a 30 km distance from all borderline territory. The drawback would thwart any potential clashes or aggression.

Yemen’s internationally-recognized government made an abrupt rebuff for the proposal, considering that the draft rewards the insurgency more than it backs legitimacy in Yemen.

The main objection was that a new vice president who holds executive power would be named whilst the legitimate president is left to serve as an unable figurehead–such is the case in Lebanon.

The internationally recognized president of Yemen and his deputy will not step down or hand over their powers to new leaders without certain conditions being met- which is a very reasonable case made.

Even though the objection is justifiable, a one sided compromise cannot be asked of the warring parties in Yemen.

If Yemen’s President Hadi could impose a better solution whether through concession or force, anyone would back his proposition. Nonetheless, the case can’t be made so that either the insurgency or the government is left content.

Coup militias must also abandon their agenda on overruling the government and imposing their authority over Sanaa.

Albeit the proposition is flawed and beneath expectations, it still is the best there is, and definitely a better option than the fighting. More so, the draft is built on the basis of a previously approved draft called the Gulf initiative which introduces a period of political transition, which eventually leads to elections leaving the interim government in limited power.

The critical phase would kick-start as the better kept short – political transition comes to an end— the people of Yemen would have the right to self-determination. Yemen is a country which belongs to Yemenis themselves.

What is more is if the people elect a government outside the coup camps, composed of Houthis or the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh loyalists , then it would ascertain the interim government and international stance. As to who would rule Yemen; it remains a decision to be made by the people themselves, neither by Gulf countries nor Iran.

As for whether Mr. Ahmed’s proposal being a reward for the insurgency as some government officials would say—the argument can be settled if an effective implementation mechanism is found and enforced. If so, the draft is the best chance for mediation between the two conflicting parties to arrive to each of their demands.

What should be kept in mind is that no peace proposition ever made in Yemen objected to including the political blocs of the Houthi movement or Saleh loyalists in the country’s political future.

Only a limited list of names was put on figures prohibited of partaking in Yemen’s political transition.

What is new in Mr.Ahmed’s proposal is that the interim government’s vice presidency might be handed over to the insurgency camp, until elections are made.

Mr. Ahmed is expected to announce the date on the elections. It is noteworthy to mention that the interim vice presidency, like other posts in political transition, holds no effective power.

The proposal does not present a final outline for a solution, yet it serves to shorten the political rift—especially after many talks being held on an international scale in each of Kuwait, Riyadh, Switzerland and Britain.

The initial draft put forth this time presents a good chance for progress in negotiations and arriving to a peace solution that ends war in Yemen, restores legitimacy and blocks the way of foreign interference in the country’s sovereignty.

What is left is that the U.N. envoy proves successful in providing clear commitments from the Security Council on guaranteeing the withdrawal of insurgency militias and curbing the armaments of coup militants. The mechanism of implementation should not only control illegal armament of combatants but also ensure fighting any party that attempts on undermining constitutional authority.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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