THE RETURN OF DIPLOMACY? POLICY OPTIONS FOR YEMEN AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD


March 2021

The Yemen Policy Center (YPC) is pleased to invite you to a virtual discussion,

“THE RETURN OF DIPLOMACY? POLICY OPTIONS FOR YEMEN AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD”
on March 3rd,
2021, from 17:00-18:30 CET 

(11:00-12:30 EST; 16:00-17:30 GMT)

Promising that America would lead with diplomacy once again, President Joseph Biden delivered his first foreign policy speech on February 4th, 2021 from the White House. In his remarks, which specifically addressed the conflict in Yemen, the President called for a nationwide ceasefire, stated that the United States would no longer support Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in the country, and withdrew the FTO designation of the Houthis (an unwelcome inheritance from the Trump administration). A few days later, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith, made his first trip to Teheran to discuss the Yemen conflict.

The Houthis have made significant gains against Yemen’s Internationally Recognized Government (IRG) since the conflict began, consolidating their grip on power in the country, establishing repressive regimes and cracking down on opposition and civil rights wherever they seize territory. Emboldened by Saudi Arabia’s evident exhaustion and their own success on the ground, the group recently re-launched its offensive on Marib— the IRG held, oil-rich province east of Sana’a, which is also home to approximately one million internally displaced civilians. Should Marib fall to the Houthis, it would likely not only worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen but also deal a perhaps fatal blow to the already beleaguered Track-1 peace process, as well as to the increasingly weakened IRG, which is also facing competition across its own territory from the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

These and other recent developments in Yemen raise a number of critical, time-sensitive questions for policymakers, analysts, and observers of the war. Given the many conflicting interests and power constellations in Yemen, what are realistic diplomatic options regarding the current conflict, as it stands? How can the international community gain leverage on the Houthis to avert a catastrophe in Marib? What influence does Iran have on the group? And finally, what could a solution that is agreeable to the various parties to the conflict look like?

This conversation will be moderated by YPC’s research fellow Hadil Al-Mowafak, and will draw on analysis from:

Peter Salisbury, an International Senior Analyst for Yemen at the International Crisis Group, a research-based conflict prevention and resolution NGO. Peter was previously a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. He has more than 13 years of extensive experience as a print, online and broadcast journalist, political economy researcher and analyst.

Adnan Tabatabai, an Iran analyst who is consulted by European policymakers and businesses on Iran related affairs. Through his work at CARPO, Tabatabai has designed and facilitated track 2 and civil-society dialogue formats between Iran and Saudi Arabia since 2015. He is furthermore involved in a variety of projects at CARPO on regional security in the Persian Gulf region. Tabatabai is author of the book “Morgen in Iran” (Oct. 2016, Edition Körber-Stiftung).

Annelle Sheline PhD, is a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a DC think tank, and a non-resident fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Sheline completed her doctorate in political science at George Washington University, focusing on the strategic use of religious authority in the Middle East.

Ibrahim Jalal, a Non-Resident Scholar in the Gulf Affairs and Yemen Program at the Middle East Institute (MEI), a risk, security, conflict, stabilization and defence consultant and a co-founder of the Security Distillery Think Tank. His research mainly examines third-party peace processes in Yemen, Gulf security, the politics of military coalitions and armed non-state actors.

Register for the event here

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References :

[1]YPC nationwide representative survey, April–July 2019. Data cited in this paper is drawn from this survey unless otherwise indicated.

[2] UN News “Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN” Feb 2019. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1032811 (Accessed 3 March 2020).

[3] Wadhah Al-Awlaqi and Maged Al-Madhaji, Rethinking Yemen’s economy: Local governance in Yemen amid conflict and instability, July 2018. https://devchampions.org/files/Rethinking_Yemens_Economy_No2_En.pdf (Accessed 8 March 2020); Mansour Rageh, Amal Nasser, and Farea Al-Muslimi, “Yemen without a Functioning Central Bank: The Loss of Basic Economic Stabilization and Accelerating Famine,” Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, November 2016. http://sanaacenter.org/publications/main-publications/55 (Accessed 23 May 2018).

[4]Data source: OCHA, “Humanitarian needs overview 2019: Yemen”, December 2018. https://yemen.un.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_Yemen_HNO_FINAL.pdf (Accessed 11 March 2020).

[5] Final report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen, addressed to the President of the Security Council, January 2020. https://undocs.org/S/2020/70 (Accessed 11 March 2020).

[6] Mareike Transfeld, “Implementing Stockholm: The Status of Local Security Forces in al-Hodeidah,” YPC Policy Report, Yemen Polling Center, Policy Report, November 2019. http://www.yemenpolling.org/Projects-en/ICSP_EU_HodeidahReport2019November30.pdf (Accessed 16 February 2020).

[7] Mareike Transfeld and Shaima Bin Othman, “The State of the Police in Western Yemen”, YPC research debrief, Yemen Polling Center, Research Debrief, January 2020. https://www.yemenpolling.org/4325/ (Accessed 16 February 2020).

[8] Amnesty International, “Yemen: Fierce new offensive displaces tens of thousands of civilians from Hodeidah” May 2018. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/yemen-fierce-new-offensive-displaces-tens-of-thousands-of-civilians-from-hodeidah/ (Accessed 5 March 2020).

[9] Maged Sultan, Mareike Transfeld and Kamal Muqbil, “Formalizing the Informal State and Non-State Security Providers in Government-Controlled Taiz City,” YPC Policy Report, Yemen Polling Center, July 2019. https://yemenpolling.org/advocacy/upfiles/ICSP_EU_FinalTaizReport2019July19.pdf (Accessed 16 February 2020).

[10] Nadwa al-Dawsari , “Tribal Governance And Stability In Yemen “, The Carnegie papers, Carnegie endowment (April 2012). https://carnegieendowment.org/files/yemen_tribal_governance.pdf (Accessed 5 March 2020).

[11]CIVIC, “We Did Not Know If We Would Die From Bullets Or Hunger” Civilian Harm and Local Protection Measures in Yemen “, Jan 2019, https://civiliansinconflict.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/YEMEN_BulletsorHunger_FINAL_PROOF.pdf (Accessed 5 March 2020).

[12] Fatima Saleh and Ahmed al-Sharjabi “Institutional Prerequisites for the STC “Coup” in Aden and Perspectives on the Jeddah Deal” , research debrief, Yemen Polling Center, Oct 2019. https://www.yemenpolling.org/institutional-prerequisites-for-the-stc-coup-in-aden-and-perspectives-on-the-jeddah-deal/ (Accessed 16 February 2020).

[13] Human Rights Watch, “Yemen: Riyadh Agreement Ignores Rights Abuses”, December 2019, https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/12/12/yemen-riyadh-agreement-ignores-rights-abuses Accessed 5 Mar 2020; Human Rights Watch,  “Yemen: UAE Backs Abusive Local Forces” June 2017.

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