Houthis reject peace again

The Yemen conflict won’t end as long as the rebels are intent on sabotaging peace talks

Two Yemeni women pass a wall full of graffiti in support of peace in the war-affected country, at a wall along a street in Sana'a, 30 April 2016. Yahya Arhab / EPA
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Peace talks have been interrupted again in Yemen. Just as concrete progress was taking shape, Houthi rebels stormed a military camp in Amran province in violation of a ceasefire. While it is, sadly, unsurprising that the rebels would blatantly violate the ceasefire, the suspension of peace talks demonstrates how much of a challenge it is to end this conflict.

When forces loyal to the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels agreed to United Nations-backed peace negotiations last month, peace was distant but not unattainable.

While significant differences remain, the warring factions had come a long way towards ending the conflict that has killed more than 6,200 people and wounded 35,000. But then the Houthis sabotaged the peace talks with their trademark reckless behaviour that exhibits total disregard for the well-being of the Yemeni people.

Few can be surprised by the intransigence of the Houthis. The Saudi-led coalition has never been under any illusions that this conflict would be easy. The coalition, of which the UAE is a member, has sacrificed blood and money to restore Yemen’s legitimate government to save the country and secure the Arabian Peninsula.

Many Yemenis were sceptical that the latest round of peace talks would bring about the end of the conflict. For Ekhlas Al Kasadi, a political activist and journalist in Aden, distrust of the Houthis runs deep.

"The Houthis violated the agreements more than once," Al Kasadi told The National before the peace talks began last month. "But Saudi Arabia is still trying to negotiate with them and this is a clear indication that the Saudi-led coalition wants a peace solution that will not cost the Yemenis a lot."

Now that the rebels have violated the ceasefire and ended the peace talks, the coalition has no choice but to continue fighting for the security of Yemen. The question remains: when will the Houthis finally release the Yemeni people from their murderous grip?