On September 28, 2021, the Yemen Policy Center held a panel event on ‘Peacemaking Under Biden After Afghanistan: Paths To Justice And Peace In Yemen’, moderated by YPC Research Fellow Ibrahim Jalal.
The panelists explored the Yemen conflict in light of recent events in Afghanistan, noting that US President Biden’s statement to ‘end wars’ to remake other countries inevitably has far-reaching and unconsidered consequences for many countries, including Yemen. The US engagement in Yemen can be seen through the lens of ‘strategic narcissism’ (an idea articulated by Lt. General McMaster, Ret.), in which US foreign policy actors assume its unilateral actions are enough to shape the course of the future. At the same time, the US is perhaps unable to see or think of the implications of its disengagement from the Middle East as it pivots towards interests elsewhere.
In this context, the Houthis and other armed non-state actors closely watch the consequences of the US intervention in and subsequent withdrawal from Afghanistan, learning from these experiences to seize new opportunities and secure further gains, aware that they can continue to act with relative impunity. There are also other parallels – with state structure collapsing, the Houthis have seen further opportunities to reshape the identity of Northwestern parts of Yemen. For peace and justice in Yemen, there have to be strong and credible accountability measures and action must be taken against all parties to the conflict – from non-state actors to regional players – through international mechanisms such as the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. Therefore, the US still could play a role in peace and justice for Yemen.
Baraa Shiban is a human rights activist and researcher for the British human rights organisation Reprieve, where he worked as the Project Coordinator in Yemen, conducting field investigations into the US drone program. He continues to comment regularly on Yemeni politics in the media.
Radhya al-Mutawakel is a human rights defender and the co-founder and chairperson of Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights, an independent organisation working to defend and protect human rights in Yemen. In 2004, she began work on focusing on the enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests that took place during the Saada War.
Peter Salisbury is the Senior Analyst for Yemen at the International Crisis Group, a research-based conflict prevention and resolution NGO. Peter has more than 14 years of extensive experience as a print, online and broadcast journalist, political economy researcher, and analyst.
Moderator: Ibrahim Jalal joined the Yemen Policy Center as a Research Fellow in 2021. His research examines third party-led peace processes in Yemen, the internal dynamics of the conflict, and the proliferation of armed non-state actors.
German Federal Foreign Office