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article imageOp-Ed: In Yemen US engages in direct peace talks with the Houthi rebels

By Ken Hanly     Sep 6, 2019 in Politics
US officials confirmed that they are in direct talks with the Houthis who control much of northern Yemen including the capital Sanaa. Assistant US Secretary of State David Schneker confirmed the talks to reporters in Saudi Arabia.
Schneker's statement
Schneker said that the talks were focused on trying to end the Yemen war. He said the two sides were seeking a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict. He offered no details on the direction of this effort. The Houthis are supported by Iran. A Saudi-led coalition with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the separatist Southern Transitional Council(STC) has been attempting to defeat the Houthis but so far has not been successful though they control the south.
Conflict between Saudis and the UAE and STC
Recently the UAE and STC have fought with the Saudi forces loyal to the former government of Mansur Hadi. The STC supported by the UAE force have taken over the port city of Aden which is also the temporary capital of the Hadi government. Hadi is actually in exile in Saudi Arabia. The STC and UAE have also taken over portions of nearby provinces.
The separatists aim is to have an independent Southern Yemen as was the case in the past while the Saudi's want a unified Yemen with Mansur Hadi as president.
Saudis demand STC and UAE withdraw
The Saudis have called the STC and UAE actions a threat to the kingdom and threatens to deal with it decisively. They have also demanded withdrawal: "The statement centered on the idea that the separatists should unilaterally hand over all government buildings and military bases in the capital city of Aden. This almost certainly isn’t going to happen, after a recent bid to give back some government buildings led to a pitched battle in Aden over the entire city, which the separatists won with UAE support."
The Saudis have moved
forces and equipment to the south away from the front line with the Houthis and are also reported to have sent more troops from Saudi Arabia. This may be a sign that the Saudis intend to try to retake territory lost to the separatists and UAE.
The US is not itself one of the main parties to the battle although it does supply some logistical support to the Saudis as well as many weapons. However, the Yemen war is unpopular and many in the US Congress and public would like the US to get out or for there to be peace. The war has created a humanitarian disaster and involved war crimes on both sides.
The US has been trying to get Saudi Arabia to participate but it is not clear that this has happened. The US will need to get both the Saudis as well as the UAE and the STC to be part of the negotiations if there is any hope of an end to the fighting. However, at least the US is making an attempt to create conditions for an end to a vicious war that has brought nothing but grief to the Yemeni people. The Saudis may be directing their attention to the internal battle with the separatists and putting the fight with the Houthis on the back burner for now.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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