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memri
November 26, 2018 No.
7773

Saudi Press Rejects Western Initiative For Ceasefire In Yemen: Peace Will Not Prevail As Long As Houthis Have The Upper Hand

In the recent weeks, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and officials from the U.S., U.K. and other European countries have been trying to affect a ceasefire in Yemen and promote a political solution to the conflict there. In October Griffiths announced plans for a new round of talks between the warring sides in Yemen, which were subsequently scheduled to take place in Sweden in late November. U.S. officials, including State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, welcomed this initiative and called for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution in Yemen.[1]On November 19, the U.K. submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling on the sides to cease the hostilities, enable the extension of humanitarian and financial aid, and implement all the Security Council resolutions in the matter of Yemen.[2]

Both sides in Yemen – the Houthis and the government – expressed willingness to cooperate with Griffith's initiative. On November 18, the Houthis announced that, in response to Griffith's request and as a measure of good faith, they would order a halt to the rocket attacks and the use of UAVs, and expressed their willingness to cease the hostilities on all fronts in order to reach a fair and just peace.[3] The Yemeni government, for its part, announced on November 19 that is was willing to participate in the Sweden talks, but called on Griffiths to ensure that the Houthis would come to the talks without preconditions.[4]

Despite this, reports have it that armed clashes between the sides continue, including the firing of Houthi rockets into Saudi Arabia. On November 22, Griffiths arrived in Yemen to meet with the sides and prepare the ground for the Sweden talks, due to take place in the coming weeks.[5]

As for Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government and heads the coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, it appears to be opposed to the Western ceasefire initiative. While King Salman declared, in a November 19 speech before the Shura Council, that Saudi Arabia supports a political solution in Yemen,[6] on November 21 Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Khalid bin Salman, attacked the Houthis for declaring a ceasefire and then firing a rocket at the Yemeni town of Maidi, which is under coalition control, and added that "this is consistent with their pattern of lying and violating commitments."[7]


Khalid bin Salman's tweet

Articles in the Saudi press were likewise pessimistic about the Sweden talks. They stressed that these talks were doomed to failure in advance because the Houthis could not be trusted, among other reasons, and added that there would be no peace in Yemen until the Houthis surrendered and ceded control of every inch of its territory. They also stated that Saudi Arabia had always favored a political solution and acted to promote it, but all its past attempts at a ceasefire had been violated by the Houthis. Since Houthi activity is the root of the problem, they said, any solution granting them power is unfeasible.

The following are excerpts from some of these articles.

Saudi Journalist: Sweden Talks Doomed To Failure; There Will Be No Peace In Yemen Until Houthis Surrender

Saudi journalist 'Adel Al-Harbi wrote that the intra-Yemeni talks in Sweden are doomed to failure because the Houthis are a terrorist organization controlled by Iran and therefore their commitments are meaningless. The Saudi-led coalition, he stressed, will not hand Yemen to the Houthis on a silver platter like the U.S. did with Iraq, when it handed it over to Iran:

"We are once again hearing calls and demands to end the war in Yemen... Those making these demands know that the [Saudi] kingdom declared before anyone else, on several occasions, that it wanted to end the war with as few fatalities as possible, but not at the expense of the martyrs who fell for the sake of restoring the legitimate [regime in Yemen]...

"The situation in Yemen cannot be resolved overnight. A coalition withdrawal at the present time might create a situation similar to the situation that the Americans created in Iraq when they [withdrew and thus] handed it on a silver platter to the Iranian militias and the global terror organizations, which sowed ruin and destruction in Iraq...

"Our duty towards our people in Yemen is to complete the task they asked us to help with... The kingdom has no ambitions regarding Yemen and the humanitarian situation there causes it sorrow – but it will never agree to surrender Yemen to the gang that is trading in the Yemenis' [blood], harming their security and livelihood, and threatening shipping [lanes], global trade and the security of the Gulf and the region...

"The meetings to be hosted by Sweden at the end of the month, I am sad [to say], are thus doomed to failure in advance, for two reasons. First, because the Houthis are unable to honor any of their commitments since they are not their own masters [but are controlled by Iran]. The second [reason] is that, for a terrorist organization [like the Houthis], participating in a political solution is a kind of suicide – since it has no plan or political clout that can ensure its continued existence in [times of] peace. Proof of this is Hizbullah's failure to become part of the political process [in Lebanon] without its weapons... The Houthis are the ones who need peace more than anyone else today, but... the price [they will have to pay for it] is surrendering and ceding control of every inch of Yemeni soil [to the legitimate regime]..."[8]


Cartoon in Saudi daily titled "Peace in Yemen": "The Houthis" are roasting the peace dove (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, April 25, 2018)

Editorial In 'Okaz Daily: Peace Will Not Prevail As Long As The Houthis Control Even One Inch Of Yemen's Soil

In its November 5, 2018 editorial, the Saudi 'Okaz daily stated that the Houthis are threatening both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and that therefore an essential condition for achieving stability and peace in Yemen is stripping them of power. It noted: "As we have said again and again, instilling peace in Yemen and restoring the legitimate [rule] and stability are not a dream that is hard to actualize. But it will not be actualized as long as the Houthi militia controls the situation, violates human rights, and sows terror in the souls of the citizens and threatens to kidnap their sons...

"The Houthis, as [UK Labour] MP Graham Jones, head of the Commons Committees on Arms Exports Controls has said, are the greatest threat to the world today. The damage they are doing is not limited solely to harming the [Yemeni] people; they have also carried out the mission given them by the government of the ayatollahs [i.e. Iran] to harm the security of the [Saudi] kingdom, and have fired over 200 Iran-made long-range ballistic missiles at Saudi cities...

"Thus, the international community must believe what Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said [on November 4, when] he stressed that the military operations would continue in Sa'ada [in northern Yemen] until the capital Sana'a is liberated from the Houthi militias and the federal state is built. [No] country can be stable and peace cannot prevail on earth as long as the Houthis control even a single inch of Yemen's soil."[9]

Saudi Columnist: Stopping The War Without Tackling The Reasons For It Will Lead To A Worse War

In his column in the 'Okaz daily, Khaled Al-Sulaiman addressed the calls for stopping the war in Yemen, stating that Saudi Arabia too would be glad if the war in Yemen were over but that calling for a ceasefire or a stop to the fighting is not enough. He said that the causes leading to the war must be dealt with, and clear foundations on which the end of the fighting are to be based must be delineated – otherwise, there will be a longer and worse war. He wrote:

"No one wants the war in Yemen to continue forever. The military intervention in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, is aimed at preventing the circumstances from ripening into an outbreak of a larger war, the flames of which are [likely to] reach all the countries in the region. We can [only] imagine what the situation in Yemen [might have been] had the Houthi rebellion succeeded in establishing [itself as] legitimate, put itself in charge of Yemen's foreign affairs, and turned [Yemen] into a [military] base and launch silo for Iranian missiles that would threaten the entire southern Arabian peninsula and Horn of Africa!...

"Therefore, when the international community demands a stop to the war in Yemen, it must define the foundations on which the cessation of the fighting will be based, and sketch out the expected future face of the Yemeni people. [This is] so that its victims will not have [died] in vain... Saudi Arabia and its allies are not messing around in Yemen, and they are not aiming to remain there or to interfere in its affairs. They will be delighted to end the circumstances that obliged them to intervene [in Yemen] in order to support its legitimate government, so that they will be able to devote their energy and resources to areas that are more beneficial for their peoples. Accordingly, they will support any proposed solution to end the war. But the world must remember that the problem has never been with the coalition but with the other side [i.e. the Houthis], that advocates the Iranian doctrine that caused Iran to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of its people in the [1980-88] Iran-Iraq war.

"Stopping the war without dealing with the reasons it broke out is no more than a fragile and temporary ceasefire that will not prevent the outbreak of another war – one that is more painful and longer!"[10]

Saudi Journalist: Some Are Using The Khashoggi Affair To Extort Saudi Arabia On The Yemen Issue

Senior Saudi journalist Mashari Al-Dhaidi, who was editor of the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, was enraged by an article by Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor for the UK daily The Guardian, calling for leveraging the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to force Saudi Arabia to cease its activity in Yemen. Al-Dhaidi added that the Houthis, as is their custom, would not honor such a ceasefire. He wrote:

"[Suddenly] every element has requests [and is demanding] an accounting from the Saudi state... as a result of the problem of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi... Among the accounts that they are demanding that Saudi Arabia [settle] is stopping the conflict with Iran's agents in Yemen – the Houthi organization – on the pretext of concern for the humanitarian situation [there]. But we do not see the British journalists of the left shedding tears for the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century – Syria!

"The British Guardian published an analysis by its diplomatic editor, a journalist named Patrick Wintour, [focusing on the question of] how to leverage the crisis of the Khashoggi [affair] to get Saudi Arabia to stop its operations in Yemen... Our friend Mr. Journalist wants to step up the pressure on Saudi Arabia on the matter of Yemen following the death of Jamal Khashoggi, saying that this is 'a moment that is not to be missed.' What he means to say is that that the opportunity must be exploited in order to turn the [situation] in Yemen in Iran's favor and to keep Saudi Arabia trapped in the claws of the Houthi cat, as long as it is suffering from the Jamal crisis.

"With regard to the situation in Yemen and the American initiative for stopping the fighting there and opening a political path, Saudi Arabia and the members of the coalition in Yemen did not say that they were against a political solution. On the contrary – from day one, [they] sought, and supported, a political solution, and we remember the negotiations over [the situation] in Yemen held in Kuwait and Geneva. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and the coalition have more than once taken care to make room for a political solution and for a halt to the aerial bombing – but each time, the Houthis saw this as no more than a 'ceasefire' aimed at reorganizing their ranks.

"It is almost certain that this time [too] the Houthis will consider the ceasefire to be only a tactical one. But despite this, Saudi Arabia and the coalition will support the political effort. There is nothing new here. But this is not the heart of the matter. The question [that we must ask] the Mr. British Journalist and his ilk is: Is it conceivable that Britain [would] reconcile with a neighbor controlled by a gang loyal to Russia that fires missiles at London and Liverpool?"[11]

 


[1] State.gov, October 30, 2018; Dod.defense.gov, October 27, 2018; usip.org, elaph.org, October 31, 2018; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 1, 2018.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 20, 2018.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), November 18, 2018.

[4] Al-Hayat (Dubai), November 20, 2018.

[5] Al-Hayat (Dubai), Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 22, 2018.

[6]Al-Hayat (Dubai), November 20, 2018.

[7] Twitter.com/kbsalsaud, November 22, 2018.

[8] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 21, 2018.

[9] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), November 5, 2018.

[10] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), November 1, 2018.

[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 2, 2018.