Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yemen peace talks to take place in Geneva on June 14

The Prime Minister of the government in exile of president Mansour Hadi said that the upcoming peace talks slated for June 14 in Geneva will be aimed at "restoring power" to the Hadi government.
The Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah, speaking in exile in Ryadh, the Saudi capital, said the talks would be used to pressure Shiite rebels to withdraw from the capital and other cities they have captured. A spokesperson for the Houthis, Mohammed Abdel-Salem dismissed Bahah's remarks, claiming the Hadi government was illegitimate and there are no preconditions associated with the talks. Initially the government in exile refused to even attend the talks unless the Houthis implemented the UN Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of the Houthi forces from occupied cities among other things. No doubt under pressure from its supporters, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, officials of the government now say they will attend the talks but only to discuss implementation of the resolution.
Bahah was adamant in his position saying:Going to Geneva is meant to consult on the mechanism of ... the return of the state. There will be no negotiations."So why would anyone hold peace talks between powers in conflict if there is to be no negotiation? President in exile Mansour Hadi took precisely the same line and ruled out any negotiations with the Houthis. Hadi is in no position to make such demands. The Houthi rebels have long been in control of much of Yemen, seizing the capital Sanaa last fall and since extending control south right to Aden, where a battle for control of the city is ongoing. Hadi had tried to negotiate through the UN a government acceptable to the Houthis. When he failed, he resigned and was under virtual house arrest in Sanaa. He escaped to Aden where he declared he was still president and tried to set up a government there. He was driven out and sought refuge and support in Saudi Arabia. Hadi is in large part a creation of the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council as part of a deal that saw former president Ali Saleh give up power to Hadi, who was then vice-president. It is not surprising that he was able to enlist those same countries to carry out bombing attacks on the Houthis on his behalf and to pass a UN resolution that in effect asks the Houthis to surrender. The UN also imposed sanctions on two Houthi leaders as well as former president Saleh whose support has been instrumental in helping the Houthi advance. Repeating the same line as his prime minister, Hadi told Al Arabiya TV: "There will be no negotiations, It will be just a discussion about how to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216. We will have a consultation."He said there would be no talk of reconciliation with the rebels.
The U.S. has welcomed the talks and repeated the UN refrain that parties should attend the talks without preconditions. However, what the U.S. says should happen has parts that are as unrealistic as the position of the Hadi government and if followed are bound to result in a useless conference except as a platform to condemn the rebels. A US statement says:We urge Yemenis participating in the talks to work towards a rapid resumption of the Yemeni political transition process in line with the GCC Initiative, National Dialogue Conference outcomes, and related UN Security Council resolutions. We also call upon those participating to prioritize reaching an agreement to end the fighting and begin the withdrawal of forces from key Yemeni cities.The National Dialogue is dead as a door nail. Items passed that the important powers fashioning Yemen's future did not like were not implemented. The dialogue passed a motion against drone strikes. Even the legislature followed suit. But the man beholden to the outside powers, President Hadi, did not turn the motion into law.
As part of the Dialogue, Hadi was left to draw up plans for a federal Yemen. He divided the country into six divisions a position rejected by not only the Houthis, who withdrew from the Dialogue after two of their representatives were assassinated, but was also rejected by the Southern Movement separatists. It is this group fighting the Houthis in Aden and other southern areas who are often characterized as loyal to Hadi. They will demand at the very least autonomy for the south in order to go along with any political settlement. It is the international outside supporters of Hadi who have the real power, without them Hadi would be completely helpless. Unless those powers are willing to provide the Houthis with a guarantee of a government that they will find acceptable there will be no lasting peace deal. However, even agreement on a cease fire and humanitarian relief with further negotiations would be positive.

No comments: