With so much international attention, why can't Yemen find peace?

The one-year anniversary of Houthi terror attacks on the UAE took place this week

Yemen's war has been going on for almost a decade. AP
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On Tuesday, the UAE marked a year since the Houthi terrorist attacks on Abu Dhabi, which left three civilians dead and six injured. Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the President, remarked: "A year has passed since the vicious terrorist attack on civilian facilities in the UAE, and the nation is more powerful and invincible and more determined to continue its development path ... They wanted to shake confidence in our country, but it is stronger than any terrorist threat."

His words were mirrored globally. International leaders were quick in their condemnation when the blasts took place. After all, the danger posed by Yemen's Houthis is not just a threat for the UAE, but its neighbours and others further afield.

And this week, the UAE's international partners have been remembering the day, too. For the anniversary, US President Joe Biden sent a message of solidarity to the Emirates. He said his country remains in support of the UAE against any threat and that: “We stand resolute to ensure it cannot happen again.”

Crowds attend a speech of a top Houthi leader last year. EPA

He also said that the US is "steadfast in the pursuit of diplomacy to bring a peaceful end to the war in Yemen". The same belief was expressed on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who said: “The war in Yemen must end through a negotiated solution ... 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.”

His comments were delivered at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos entitled “The Middle East: Meeting Point or Battleground”, which was developed in collaboration with The National and moderated by Editor-in-Chief Mina Al-Oraibi. UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg was also on the panel. He struck a note of cautious optimism about the recent progress of diplomacy in the conflict: "Ending the war in Yemen will not be easy as mistrust remains, but serious steps have been taken recently.”

With so many calls for a peaceful, negotiated solution, it becomes clear that Houthi intransigence remains the main obstacle as so many in the international community continue to strive for a safer Yemen. Even more frustrating is the fact that, as alluded to by Prince Faisal, Yemen actually managed to secure a truce last year. It was not perfect but hostilities were still greatly reduced.

Its absence now reiterates the fact that Yemenis are the primary victims of this years-long conflict. The UAE and its neighbours might have been able to put attacks largely behind them, but civilians in Yemen are still living with the results of almost a decade of war. The UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that as of August 2022, more than 23 million people across the country were in need of humanitarian assistance.

This week, in Davos and elsewhere, key international players who want to see Yemen at peace have shown their determination to bring about a solution. Now it is on the Houthis to demonstrate the same resolve.

Published: January 20, 2023, 3:00 AM