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Yemen peace talks of great significance, but cannot get result in short time

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

06-23-2015 17:28 BJT

By Wang Jinyan, Institute of West Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Armed Houthi groups in Yemen expanded their power base and created a national political crisis in July last year. This March, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched military attacks on armed Houthi groups. This foreign interference escalated the Yemen crisis.

It is now a serious humanitarian disaster: More than 2,600 people, half of them civilians, have died since March and 80 percent of the Yemen population relies on humanitarian assistance. Yemen is on the brink of total collapse.

Yemen's geographical factors, sects and terrorism have far-reaching significance throughout the Middle East. The entire Middle East is suffering serious consequences from the crisis. The United Nations this month proposed peace talks, aiming to find a way out of conflict.

Yemen peace talks are of great significance.

The United Nations has three main targets for the talks: to achieve a ceasefire during Ramadan, reduce the humanitarian disaster and move the warring parties toward a political solution.

For the first target, the period from June 18 to July 16 this year is Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. This is the most sacred and auspicious time for Muslim people all year. According to Islamic law, fighting is banned. Ramadan is about praying for peace. Muslims have a variety of customs and taboos meaning any violent confrontations during Ramadan will lead to a more serious humanitarian disaster and a more vengeful mentality than usual. In the history of the Middle East, wars during Ramadan have had lasting negative effects.

For the second target, peace talks at this stage can only be called indirect negotiations: The opposing sides sit in a conference room while Sheikh Ahmed, United Nations envoy for Yemen, communicates and coordinates, hoping to bring parties together. It can be seen the goals of the first peace talks since the Yemen crisis erupted are of great significance in moving the issue forward out of violence toward a political solution.

The Yemen crisis has also facilitated the expansion of Arabian Peninsula Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Peace talks will play an active role in curbing the expansion of regional terrorism.

Yemen peace talks cannot get result in short time.

First of all, it is difficult for all the main parties involved in the conflict to compromise. Riyadh Yassin Abdullah, foreign minister of the Yemen government-in-exile, has made it clear that a ceasefire is hopeless and impossible as long as the armed Houthi groups continue to occupy Yemen. If the armed groups commit to retreat from Aden and other major cities and release all prisoners, the government in exile would consider a short-term ceasefire. The armed Houthi groups also directly rejected talks with coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia as they are being bombarded every day. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia made it clear they will resolutely strike at armed Houthi groups and back exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's return. The three main sides involved are thus all sticking to their own opinions and unable to reach a consensus.

Secondly, the fighting is escalating. A few days after the peace talks started, the civil war worsened: On June 18, armed Houthi groups bombed the residence of politician Abdul Aziz in Yemen. Aziz is at the peace talks in Geneva as a representative of the government-in-exile. Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia continuously bombed areas occupied by armed Houthi groups. Under diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan refused to let a plane carrying Houthi representatives cross their airspace, meaning they failed to arrive on time in Geneva. With confrontations this violent, how can negotiations be conducted?

Terrorist forces have also caused havoc during this period, damaging the peace talks. The Islamic State terrorist group on June 17 launched car bomb attacks on armed Houthi groups, attacking offices of armed Houthi groups and three Shia mosques, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens.

In conclusion, it will be difficult for peace talks to achieve anticipated targets and the Yemen conflict will not end in the short-term. Armed Al-Houthi groups will be exposed to attacks from two sides in the future: On the one hand, coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia will continue air strikes. On the other, extremist forces represented by Arabian Peninsula Al-Qaeda and Islamic State will attack them too, seizing their chance to expand and damaging the peace process.



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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