The Outcome of the International Pressure to Implement the Riyadh Agreement

Analytics

Sat, 19-06-2021 01:33 Morning, Aden Time

Badr Mohammed (South24)

On June 15, 2021, the outgoing U.N. Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths delivered, from Amman, his last briefing to the U.N. Security Council about the Yemeni crisis.

The British Expert is scheduled to hold the position of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

In His farewell speech, Mr. Griffiths was not optimistic due to the frustration caused by the conflict parties’ lack of response towards peace initiatives to end the war.[1]

Since the beginning of the Yemeni crisis in 2011, the three UN successive envoys to Yemen, Mr. Jamal Benomar, Mr. Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, and the outgoing Envoy Mr. Martin Griffiths have shared the same pessimistic impression.

During the same period, the U.N. efforts have not achieved remarkable progress on the path to a political solution for the Yemeni crisis.

On the other hand, the war and military conflict machine has produced a different reality against the assumed political solutions.

Currently, the military conflict map has reached its peak of violence. The Houthis have extended their control on North whereas the STC has done the same in South. 

This has determined geography tolerant with the military solutions in contrast with the intolerant one towards which the Houthis attempt to move the conflict threatening an out of control- humanitarian disaster.

The international community agrees that the military map of the current conflict should be the last option whereas the political solution is more urgent than ever.

Therefore, the international community has recently mobilized its diplomatic efforts stressing the importance of reaching a political solution and ending the Yemeni war.

However, this path looks impassable due to the stubbornness of conflicting parties, the Houthis and the Yemeni government according to the briefing of the U.N. envoy.

The disagreement of both parties over the details of the peace initiative and ending the war led to an international shift towards the need to complete the remaining items of the Riyadh Agreement signed on November 5, 2019, between the Yemeni government and the STC.

The outcome of implementing the Riyadh Agreement

The Houthis and the Yemeni government show two conflicting positions towards the peace initiatives to solve the Yemeni crisis.

For their part, The Houthis insist on a separate deal over Al Hudaydah port and Sanaa Airport as a basic precondition to reach a ceasefire and unleashing the political process.

On the other side, the Yemeni government insists on dealing with all these issues (ports, the airport, ceasefire, unleashing and implementing the political process) as one package- deal with a focus on activating a ceasefire.

This dispute is pushing the situation towards war continuity and refusing an all-out political solution for the Yemeni crisis.

The UN envoy stressed the need to complete the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

Likewise in his speech to the Security Council, Acting Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations Jeffrey DeLaurentis called both the Yemeni Government and the STC to speed up the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.[2]

The decision taken by the U.S. administration to appoint a special envoy to Yemen was reflected in Jeffrey DeLaurentis’s speech which looked like another briefing.

Despite the apparent symmetry between both briefings, the US ambassador’s speech was clearer in defining the problem, as it blamed the two sides of the Yemeni crisis, the Houthis and the Yemeni government, for the failure of the peace initiative and stopping the war.

However, He added that both the Yemeni government and the STC hold the responsibility of completing the Riyadh agreement.

Following this, and in a context that confirms the American view of the Yemeni crisis, the US State Department announced the resumption of the US Envoy to Yemen's diplomatic tour and return to Riyadh [3]

The US Envoy’s meetings with the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen [4] and the head of the Yemeni government [5] focused on two issues, the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, and the return of the Yemeni government to Aden.

This comes concurrently with the Saudi efforts to sponsor discussions to complete the Riyadh Agreement between the delegations of the government and the STC.

On Thursday, the British Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Michael Aron, sounded more optimistic. 

After holding meetings with the STC, the Yemeni government, US and UN Envoys, and representatives of the five major countries, he talked about progress made in the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, and peace efforts. [6]

The international community finds that the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement would boost the supposed solutions to the Yemeni crisis.

Implementing the political part of the Riyadh Agreement supports the option of a comprehensive political solution, while the implementation of the military aspect supports the option of a military solution that the Houthis are trying to impose.

Consequently, the process of implementing the political part of the Riyadh Agreement requires the formation of a joint negotiating delegation between the Yemeni government and the STC, to confront the Houthi delegation in the negotiations for a comprehensive political solution. 

On the other hand, the process of implementing the military part of the Riyadh Agreement requires the withdrawal of northern forces from Hadramaut, Shabwa, and Abyan to Marib to confront the Houthi forces in North.

The choice of the Houthis and the Yemeni government is what determines the progress in implementing either the political aspect for a political solution track or the military aspect for the path of a military solution.

Simultaneously, the STC speeds up efforts to arrange its organizational and public institutions. On Thursday, the National Assembly, which serves as a parliament, concluded its fourth session under the slogan “continuing the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement is our demand and restoring the state is our end goal".[7]

The STC is authorized to represent South in the negotiations of the Riyadh Agreement with the Yemeni government.

Therefore, the STC insists on involvement in the negotiations of a comprehensive political solution, paving its way to present the two-state solution project and restoring South to its pre-unity era in May 1990.

At the opening of the fourth session of the National Assembly, the President of the STC, Mr. Aidros al-Zubaidi, reiterated the Council's support for the international community's efforts to end the war and bring peace to Yemen, leading to negotiations for a comprehensive political solution.

The Yemeni government shows two points of dispute with the STC, the first of them lies in the political aspect of the agreement as it does not want to involve the Council in negotiations for a comprehensive political solution. 

The other point of contention is related to the military aspect as the government doesn't want to withdraw the northern forces from South to Marib.

Oppositely, the Yemeni government's welcome of a comprehensive political solution necessarily means proceeding with the implementation of the political aspect of the Riyadh Agreement.

In contrast, the Houthis' refusal to end the war necessarily means heading to the implementation of the military aspect of the Riyadh Agreement.

This clarifies the reason behind the international community’s insistence on implementing the Riyadh Agreement sponsored by Saudi Arabia. 

Badr Mohammed
Resident fellow with South24 Center for News and Studies, researcher on Yemeni political affairs

-Photo: Washington's ambassador to the Security Council, Jeffrey D. Laurentiis (cut)
- Read the article in Arabic (عربي

Yemen Houthis STC South Yemen KSA Riyadh Agreement UN