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18 July, 2017

Ignoring the human disaster in Yemen

The West’s protestations about human rights sound hollow when one looks at Yemen where the U.S. and U.K. place profits from arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the carnage those weapons are inflicting.

by Alon Ben-Meir

Part 3 - Bad to Worse

The conflict is going from bad to worse as international efforts to press both sides have been woefully inadequate, and media attention is nearly absent. Continued fighting will further fuel the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and contribute to other regional conflicts. Moreover, the prospect of finding a peaceful solution is becoming increasingly difficult and laden with uncertainty, as the Trump administration believes that a solution lies with more military force. Trump justifies his bellicose approach as he sees Iran as the culprit who is raging a proxy war against the Saudis and benefiting from continued instability.

For these reasons, the E.U.’s neutrality has allowed it to maintain contact with all the conflicting parties, and is best positioned to build on its credibility to persuade both sides to agree on a ceasefire and settlement. The Houthis want to negotiate with someone with authority rather than a mediator, and refuse to have talks with U.N.-appointed envoy Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, who they consider to be biased. They also view the U.S. and the U.K. with suspicion, as they are the chief suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Although France and Britain are supportive of the military campaign, they can be coaxed by the E.U. into introducing a UNSC resolution that must first, focus on a ceasefire; second, address the humanitarian crisis; and third, work on a permanent solution that would take the Houthis’ interest into full account. As Gandhi once observed: “Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.

The conflict in Yemen can end only through a political solution, as no solution secured by force will survive. The Trump administration must learn from Iraq and Syria’s intractable violent conflicts, which could not be resolved through military means. To resolve the conflict in Yemen, the U.S. must join hands with the E.U. to achieve a peace agreement and put an end to the unconscionable tragedy inflicted on millions of innocent people.

Just take a look at the eyes of a starving, sick, and dehydrated little child whose heart is just about to stop. Multiply this image by tens of thousands and ask yourself, where have we gone wrong? We have gone wrong because it has been long since we lost our humanitarian and moral compass.

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