Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal tells Davos an end to Yemen's war must be negotiated

UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg tells World Economic Forum he has seen progress in the country

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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said the only way to end the conflict in Yemen is through a political settlement, and that although progress has been made, more work needs to be done.

“The war in Yemen must end through a negotiated solution,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said during a panel discussion in Davos. “We had a truce that has expired. We need to find a way to get the Yemen truce reinstated but then we need to work to transition it to a permanent ceasefire.”

Prince Faisal was speaking during a session in Davos on Wednesday titled “The Middle East: Meeting Point or Battleground”, developed in collaboration with The National and moderated by the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Mina Al Oraibi.

Speaking at the same panel, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said he has seen steps in the right direction in the country despite the recent challenge of reinstating a truce.

“Ending the war in Yemen will not be easy as mistrust remains, but serious steps have been taken recently,” Mr Grundberg said.

The UN has expressed hope for peace talks in Yemen, while cautioning that negotiations must be more “inclusive” after a series of faltering ceasefires this year.

Yemen’s eight-year conflict saw its first glimpse of relative calm in April when the internationally recognised government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to a ceasefire — though the government accused the militia of violating the truce on several occasions.

The UN has been pushing for an extended and broader deal encompassing a mechanism to pay public sector wages, which the Houthis had criticised for not including members of the armed forces.

Emphasising dialogue, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein said his country has continued to play a mediating role despite the many conflicts that surround it.

“To have regional security, we need to have dialogue. That’s the only way,” Mr Hussein said.

When pressed on Iraq’s tension with neighbouring Turkey over Kurdish groups operating in its territory, Mr Hussein said that nearly 50 years of both internal and external wars have forced Baghdad to choose the diplomatic route.

Iraq has sent Border Guard units to its borders with Turkey and Iran in a bid to stop continuous attacks from its neighbours on dissident Kurdish groups.

The headquarters of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran in Iraq's Kurdistan region were the targets of almost daily cross-border attacks by Ankara and Tehran last year.

'We come back to dialogue'

“Once again, we come back to dialogue — without it, we cannot solve [the issues],” Mr Hussain said.

“These problems are internal ones inside Iran and the groups which are in opposition against Turkey, these are internal problems inside Turkey. Part of it they must solve it but part of it we can deal with it but in co-operation with both countries.”

When asked about the continuing trend of more countries signing accords with Israel, the Saudi Foreign Minister said he hoped the new government in Israel sees it in their own interest to engage seriously on resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

“Priority regarding working with Israel is dependent on building a pathway to solving the Palestinian crisis. Once that is solved, it removes a huge drag on the region, a source of potential conflict that is always going the be there if not resolved,” Prince Faisal said.

Jordan’s Minister of Finance Mohamad Al Ississ urged the panellists and those gathering in Davos to bridge the gap between policymaking and the reality on the ground in the region.

“We have the bridge the gap between intellectual policymakers pontificating here in Davos and the reality on the ground, where households are really hurting, where unemployment is genuine, where inflation is real,” Mr Al Ississ said.

“We need to start giving them a belief that we are working with an understanding of what they’re going through.”

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Updated: January 18, 2023, 6:11 PM