A new ray of hope in Yemen, but doubts remain over peace
The effects of the restoration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran also reduce the tension of the ongoing war in Yemen to some extent. However, the contradictory positions of different factions of the country are still unresolved, so the conflict continues with the loss of lives.
This week has brought some hope for hundreds of families of those imprisoned in Yemen. “Today is a pretty good day,” UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced in Geneva last Monday.
He said he expected hundreds of families to be reunited within the next three weeks following a UN-brokered prisoner exchange between Yemen’s two main warring parties, the government and Houthi rebels.
The Presidential Leadership Council, which represents Yemen’s government, promised to release 706 detained Houthis, while Houthi rebels said they would release 181 prisoners in return.
This has given families of detainees a new ray of hope after years of waiting.
Najat Muhammad, a 30-year-old woman in Aden, told DW, “I have all my hopes pinned on this prisoner exchange and am waiting for my husband to come back home and meet me and our four children.” will be able to He will also be able to meet our daughter, who was pregnant when he joined the army in 2015.”
He said that he was captured in 2018 and imprisoned by the Houthi rebels. He said that till then he used to send some money home every month, but for the last four years no information or money was found about him.
He added, “I collect and sell used water bottles to raise money for our meals.
The family of Mutahar, a 28-year-old Houthi fighter in Sana’a, also hopes to be reunited with him soon. Three years ago, Muthar joined the rebel forces at the age of 25 and was captured by the government forces soon after.
His sister told DW that she and his relatives are hopeful that they will be able to hold him in their arms again soon.
Yemen’s civil war began in late 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized power in the capital Sanaa. The war escalated in 2015 when a nine-nation coalition led by Saudi Arabia, including Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, intervened in an attempt to restore the internationally recognized former government.
The conflict in Yemen is seen as a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.
According to the United Nations, Yemen’s population situation has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It says about 375,000 people have died since 2015, which is 1.25 percent of the total population.
Consequences of Saudi-Iran relations
A recent Chinese-brokered deal to restore diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran after seven years of frozen ties could be seen in a prisoner exchange deal this week.
Observers also say that Saudi Arabia has been seeking an end to the war in Yemen for some time, while Iran also wants to focus on domestic politics in view of the ongoing protests in the country.
Experts say that the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the exchange of prisoners may reduce the tension in Yemen, but neither of them has the power to end the conflict.
Nizia Bianco, a research fellow in foreign relations at the Council of Europe, told DW. “These agreements have nothing to do with local mobilization, and if an agreement is signed between the Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-backed Houthis, there will be more fighting between local groups.”
He added that the Saudi-Iran deal, “removes the regional dimension of the war in Yemen but does not end the war. It essentially ends the Saudi bombing of Yemen and cross-border attacks by the Houthis on Saudi soil. This will give the Houthis the status of a political party in the future of Yemen.
Houthis want to occupy more areas
Bianco says the two main parties in Yemen itself, the internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels, are “interested in peace.” But she believes the Houthis are not satisfied with their current territorial control.
It should be noted that the Houthis are currently in control of most of northern and western Yemen.
“After Ramadan, which will end on April 21, they could attack again, for example, the government-held province of Ma’arib in the north or Shabwah in the south, because those two areas,” Bianco told DW. “I have oil and therefore interest in it.”
According to the news agency AFP, at least 10 government soldiers were killed in an attack by the Houthis on Tuesday night of the same week.
Majid al-Medhaji, co-founder and analyst at the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, a Yemeni think tank, told AFP that it was “a clear political message that … the agreement between Tehran and Riyadh does not mean that The rebels will surrender immediately