US President Biden justified the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, described by some as ‘chaotic’, with the words: “This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan, it’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” Since Biden took office, he has spent much time talking about the need to “end wars,” including the war in Yemen. Do these words represent the Biden Doctrine? And what does this mean for Yemen, a country that is currently ruled partly by non-state actors? At the same time, with the US being involved in peace-making in Yemen, what kind of peace is being pursued? With the country dominated by emboldened actors who do not care much for freedoms, women’s rights, and political inclusion, Yemen threatens to remain stuck in a cycle of violence. What policy shift is necessary to break this cycle?
As part of our Kaleidoscope project funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, YPC wants to reflect on the way peace is pursued in Yemen. Given that a new UN envoy is resuming mediation in Yemen, we want to discuss the risks associated with the “ending wars” discourse, while identifying pathways to a more sustainable and positive peace. Is the pursuit of justice the answer? And how can justice be pursued to ensure human rights abuses and war crimes are not repeated? How do the peace negotiations need to be restructured? And how can women’s rights and participation be secured in and under a peace deal? We will be joined by renowned experts in the fields of peacemaking and human rights in 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. A former adviser to the Yemeni embassy in London, he was also a youth delegate at the National Dialogue Conference and a youth leader during the 2011 uprisings. 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. Between 2000-2004, she worked for the National Commission for Women on public relations and women’s participation in political processes. In 2004, she began working on Yemeni human rights, focused on the enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests that took place during the Saada War.
Maha Awadh is a Yemeni researcher specializing in development and gender especially from a legal standpoint. She is founder and director of Wogood Foundation for Human Security based in Aden-Yemen. Maha Ghanem is member of the Women Solidarity Network and is a recipient of the Peace Track Initiative Feminist Leadership.
Peter Salisbury is the Senior Analyst for Yemen at the International Crisis Group, a research-based conflict prevention and resolution NGO. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. Peter has more than 14 years of extensive experience as a print, online and broadcast journalist, political economy researcher and analyst.
Moderator: Ibrahim Jalal, a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Gulf Affairs and Yemen Program and co-founder of The Security Distillery, 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 proliferation of armed non-state actors, the hybrid rise of the Houthi insurgency, Gulf security, and the evolving security architecture of the Middle East.