What is the Southerners Vision of Peace in Yemen?


Mon, 23-08-2021 07:17 PM, Aden

Farida Ahmed | Analytics 

Nearly 7 years after the war outbreak in Yemen, and after the unprecedented peace efforts that were revitalized at the beginning of this year, through the US and UN special envoys to Yemen, before the latter was changed, in order to end the war file in Yemen, the process of peace negotiations is still stuttering. The Houthis are at the gates of Marib city after they took control of a number of its districts, which is the last strongholds of the Hadi government and its national army in exchange for the steadiness of other parties in their positions on ground, such as the STC and the Joint Forces.

It seems that it is not clear how the current situation will develop, especially since there is no clear plan or vision for peace so far, due to the intransigence of each party in its stance. Here a question arises; Whether the United Nations will build the peace process according to the limited framework linked to Security Council Resolution 2216 of 2015, related to bilateral negotiations between only two parties (the government and the Houthis), or will it correct the course of its process towards opening the door to a broader and more comprehensive process that accommodates the rest of the parties in the final solution. As the insistence on dealing with the same approach followed by the previous UN envoys, will prove a lack of understanding of the Yemeni situation, whose political and military dynamics on the ground have changed, which in turn will hinder the diplomatic mechanism through which the United Nations intervened to end the war in Yemen, when it adheres to a decision that is clear that It is an obstacle to achieving peace.

With that said, the international and UN peace process and efforts were not alone in stumbling, as the implementation of the provisions of the Riyadh Agreement is still faltering as well, despite the STC's emphasis on the limits of its declared statements, to push for the resumption of a new dialogue process between the signatories to the agreement, but there is relaxation and procrastination by the government of Hadi. For example, the government invoked the security aspect, although securing the government and its return is linked to the leadership of the joint operations of the Arab coalition, however; The STC indicated, through its official spokesperson, Ali Al Kathiri, that they are ready to provide full protection for the government upon its return. In addition to other differences between the two parties to the agreement regarding the formation of a joint negotiating delegation to represent any future peace process.


Relying on an inner-Southern dialogue process in order to resolve the outstanding issues to come up with a unified vision that expresses the interests of the Southerners is of great importance in pushing for a comprehensive peace process, which is what actually started working on at the invitation of the STC in late June; across the political and social spectrum in South; Which is supposed to run its process in several stages. This initiative presented by the STC may represent a complementary role to the efforts of the United Nations in settling the Yemeni crisis, when dialogue between Southerners is strengthened, before moving towards more comprehensive dialogues and negotiations in the peace process, or moving in parallel with it at least, which requires support from various regional and international parties.

The vision of Southerners for peace is represented by 2 main determinants:

The first determinant: An initial inner-dialogue process; It can be a strong point to move towards a solution in which views converge on the future of South, and in which all Southern views and positions are explored. However, the point of challenge that could face the dialogue; It lies in the diversity of Southern political trends. These trends are summarized in the following:

• The first direction: Is represented by the STC with its president, Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, and a large factions of the Southern Movement (Southern Hirak), including the Supreme Council of the Revolutionary Movement led by Hasan Baoum aiming for a single goal which is (independence) and restoring the Southern state on the 1990 borders even with different methods and approaches. This direction constitutes the highest percentage in South, and the STC enjoys the widest popular base at the internal and external levels.

• The second direction: This direction represents the moderate and centrist current, which recognizes the oppression of South after the 1994 war, but it did not specify a clear position on whether or not it should stay with the unit, but it believes that the safe way out for resolving the Southern issue is (self-determination) after a transitional period that does not exceed five years with North, this direction is currently represented by Ali Nasser Mohammad, Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas and others, and to some extent the Yemeni Socialist Party.

• The third direction: Is a direction that believes that remaining within one Yemeni state, through the establishment of a federal state according to the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue conference, is the most appropriate. This direction is represented by a number of Southern forces, most notably the Southern National Coalition.

In short, it can be said that the first trend constitutes the greatest influence on the solution equation for the broader political vision for Southerners, and the second trend may agree with it in some basics to reach a unified vision of a solution that can be built upon in the process of the inner-Southern dialogue. As for the third trend, it will most likely take a lot of time to agree with the rest of the other Southern parties to reach a common ground for an appropriate solution, despite its low percentage compared to the first trend, whose role may not have the same effect that the first and second trends combined.

The second determinant: Reaching a more comprehensive solution in which the Southerners see that determining their future and their vision of the most appropriate political solution for them is what determines sustainable peace in Yemen, North and South, because building on temporary solutions will never lead to peace, which will therefore affect the security and stability of the region, especially if the conflict took on another, more dangerous dimension, even after the political settlement, which may not last long if the main conflict issues are not radically resolved.

Chances of success towards peace

The inner-Southern dialogue represents a consolidation of all the political and military achievements that have been achieved since 2015 until today, on the basis of which a road map can be drawn for a suitable solution for the shape of South in the future, and the paths of action between the various parties to reach approaches that define the features of this South.

However, there is another, more important matter, related to the refusal of a few Southern parties to enter into the dialogue, which is an illogical refusal, according to observers, because it constitutes a strategic mistake at a time when the various forces are supposed to rally around and reinforce the steps of its inauguration. The rejection of the fact that the STC was the one who called for; does not mean that the STC is the one who monopolizes the reality of the solution alone, nor does it have a monopoly on determining the future of South alone, according to what its official spokesperson announced, and as its president, Aidrous Al-Zubaidi always declares: “If anyone does not come to us, we will go to them.” Rather, responding to this type of dialogue; It will establish a broad consensual umbrella accompanying the variables of the stage, and it can achieve high chances of success if it is responded to and entered into its framework.

In addition, the Southern national unity will be a source of strength in light of the tensions and conflicts between the various Yemeni forces politically and militarily, especially at a time when some Yemeni forces that control the decision-making in Hadi’s government, such as the Islah Party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, are seeking; According to frequent comments, to push some Southern powers to refuse; To create a vacuum from which political and, consequently, security and military chaos seeps in the Southern governorates, which in turn creates an environment in which extremist groups such as AQAP and ISIS grow, and services continue to be disrupted in the absence of the government, in exchange for providing services in the places of its control, to prove the stability of the situation in those areas. 

However, there are still chances of success in calling for dialogue and proceeding in its stages. High; Although some parties did not announce their support or acceptance of the invitation, their failure to reject it has a positive indication that it is likely that they are on the way to acceptance according to the considerations that they are waiting to receive after the general invitation. Also, the limited parties that announced a quick rejection of the invitation, believe that their survival in opposing the STC, means their political presence based on opposition, and if the political circumstances in which these parties depend on their presence change, especially related to support from Northern and regional forces; Or the parties that support the project of restoring the state took into account the arrangement of a new situation in the Southern framework of these parties, and it is expected that they would later agree to the dialogue.

Therefore, to the extent that these efforts reflect an obstruction to any Southern dialogue process towards the peace track, they are at the same time; Constituting a factor of strength for the party that called for it, which requires attention from the regional and international community, because it establishes a more comprehensive and broader peace process with the various parties to the Yemeni crisis, as a peace process in which Southerners who carry the project of the Southern state cause are not part of it, will not lead to sustainable solutions. It could even produce new cycles of conflict at the level of Yemen. 

Fellow at the South24 Center, researcher in political affairs
Photo: Getty