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‘Significant’ Progress Toward Yemen War End Seen by Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Yemeni boy runs past buildings damaged by air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the UNESCO-listed old city of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on March 26. Photographer: Mohammed Huwais/AFP.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, stated that the war between the two opposing parties in Yemen is soon to be over, after almost a year-long conflict. The prince who is also the kingdom’s defense minister said there is a major progress that took place in the negotiations, and that there are good contacts with Houthis, with a delegation currently in Riyadh.

“We are pushing to have this opportunity materialize on the ground but if things relapse, we are ready,” said the prince.

During last week’s interview with Prince Mohammed, he stated clearly some of Saudi Arabia’s regional policy positions and his own personal views on the Saudi-U.S. relationship. Noting that the prince stands next in line close to the Saudi throne and is the nation’s defense minister, who also discussed the efforts that are being made to manage last year’s slump in oil prices and his firm plans to sell shares in Saudi Aramco.

On Peace

Yemen’s war played a critical role in worsening Middle East tensions, especially with Iran and Saudi Arabia having been on opposing sides in other conflicts, most prominently the 5-years fight in Syria. By the time global efforts to end the fight in Libya, Syria and Yemen have been stepped up, among increasing international concerns over terrorism and refugees’ migration to Europe.

It has been agreed in Yemen to have a cease-fire on the 10th of April where a week later peace talks shall take place in Kuwait; said United Nations special envoy Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed. Noting that fights on ground are still going on.

Regional Push

The Saudi military intervention in Yemen started two months after Prince Mohammed was appointed as Minister of Defense. Moreover, the kingdom refrained further military aid to Lebanon in the sense of objecting on the growing power of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement there, and continues to demand Bashar al-Assad to be removed from office as part of any peace deal.

Oil and Security

Regarding U.S – Saudi relations, the prince described this partnership as “huge” and one in which “oil is only a small part.” Further, the prince abstained from commenting about the U.S. presidential race saying “we do not interfere in the elections in any other country.”

Noting that oil for security has strengthened the relationship between the U.S and Saudi Arabia, both have been strategic partners since King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Prince Mohammed’s grandfather and the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, met President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy in 1945.

Nevertheless, since 2011, bonds have been tested by political unrest in the Middle East especially with differences over how to act in regard of Syria’s civil war, which Prince Mohammed described as “very complex.”

The prince stated that U.S is the policeman of the world, not just the Middle East. He further added on America; “It is the number one country in the world, and we consider ourselves to be the main ally for the U.S. in the Middle East and we see America as our ally.”