All past discussions have failed to reach an agreement to end Yemen’s civil war, which began in 2014
Yemen has been living under a war between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led Arab coalition on various fronts ever since the Houthi rebels ousted the Yemeni government in 2015.
Several attempts have been made over the last seven years to bring conflicting parties together and end a crisis that the UN defines as the “world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.”
Yemeni cities are experiencing a Saudi-led military escalation in retaliation to the Houthis’ continuous firing of missiles and drones on Saudi and UAE territory.
Ahead of Ramadan, which is to start in April, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced that it would organize peace talks with Yemeni parties in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, to achieve a ceasefire. They urged the Saudi-led coalition and other Yemeni parties to halt military operations in Yemen to allow peace negotiations to take place.
The Houthi group welcomed the discussions with coalition countries as long as they took place in a neutral country not participating in the war against Yemen. They said they would not travel to enemy territory for talks and thus shunned the Riyadh meeting. Iran supported a ceasefire plan put forward by rebels, saying it could be an “appropriate platform” for ending the conflict.
The Houthis announced on March 26 that they would halt their attacks on Saudi Arabia and the confrontations in Yemen for three days. They even advocated a “permanent” truce if the Saudi-led coalition’s operations against the impoverished country were to terminate.
On March 29, the Arab Coalition in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, also announced a halt to military operations in Yemen to help create a positive atmosphere throughout the upcoming Ramzan month.
The United Nations and the United States praised unilateral truce moves by Yemen’s conflict parties as encouraging steps while stressing the need for a more comprehensive ceasefire that would help alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
GCC facilitated peace talks
The GCC and UN-backed discussions began on March 30 with a closed-door meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, without the involvement of the Iran-backed Houthi group. The upcoming meetings will focus on Yemen’s humanitarian and political aspects.
The negotiations attended by hundreds of Yemeni politicians, tribal leaders, and current and former military and security officials are likely to go until April 7.
The Gulf Cooperation Council asked attendees to set aside their differences and find a comprehensive solution to stop the conflict at the start of the summit.
The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and has left millions on the verge of starvation. More than 80% of Yemen’s population requires humanitarian aid.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
The Gulf Cooperation Council is a regional, intergovernmental political and economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. These countries are often called “the GCC states” or “Gulf countries.”
The council’s main headquarters are located in the city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The Charter of the GCC was signed on May 25, 1981, formally establishing the institution.
There have been discussions regarding the future membership of Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen (Yemen being the only country of the Arabian Peninsula not yet a member of the GCC).