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UN Failure in Geneva

UN Failure in Geneva

Thursday, 13 September, 2018 - 13:00
Salman Al-dossary
Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper
United Nations efforts to get Yemeni consultations up and running have once again been thwarted by Houthi militias’ intransigence and skipping of a scheduled Geneva meeting.

Houthis dodging peace negotiations is a well-documented trend. Back in June 2015, a UN-sponsored Geneva conference was also abandoned after Houthi coupists stalled with sending their negotiating delegation and finally rejected holding dialogue.

Despite the unchanging Houthi attitude towards consultations and peace talks, there are still those who believe that the Iran-backed group is serious about finding peace. The UN --despite Houthis constantly and embarrassingly rejecting all its arrangements, conferences and plans—tops that list of believers.

In 2016, both the peace roadmap drafted by the then UN envoy and Kuwait-sponsored negotiations were trashed by Houthis announcing the establishment of a self-empowered political council to govern the country, a step that received UN condemnation.

Subsequent negotiations failing did not come across as surprising—Houthis, time and time again, proved stubbornly inclined to thwart peace efforts.

Whether attending or abstaining from consultations, it is difficult to spot a real desire among Houthis to move towards a functioning peace process.

Uncooperative Houthi behavior is predictable to UN envoys, and the international body is unlikely to be convinced that coupists are committed to peace, which raises the following question: Why is the UN still pursuing dialogue, consultations and negotiations that are constantly foiled in the same fashion and by the same party every single time?!

The answer is simple: UN efforts have been operating under the same framework for the past four years.

Despite swapping three different UN envoys, the UN continues to treat both Yemen’s freely-elected government and coupists as equals.

For Houthis, this is a well-celebrated validation for their war effort.

Knowing they are being accepted on the same playing field as the constitutionally-empowered government, how can they voluntarily agree to hand over weapons, state institutions and end their militia presence?

Houthi militias perceive such recognition as a historic opportunity that cannot be missed. It is absurd for them to consider handing over or even sharing power after having gotten away with violating international resolutions and rejecting meaningful engagement.

Despite ongoing transgressions, they have managed to get off scot-free every single time.

It is inconceivable for a militia, armed to its teeth and free from international pressure, to positively respond to peace callings. Especially if demands for a political settlement are being made by an organization that sees it in the same light it does legitimate Yemeni authorities.

On the other hand, the Yemeni government has always proven its support for peace, starting with its positions upheld at the Geneva 1 peace talks, its cooperation with Kuwaiti-sponsored consultations, and positive dealing with all the proposals set forth by UN envoys.

In 2016, opposite to Houthis, the legitimate government signed the UN draft agreement in Kuwait.

Yemeni government negotiators left peace talks in Kuwait only after Houthi militias rejected the UN proposal aimed to ending their country’s war.

Seeing that the UN does not have a clear and realistic vision or means to place any valuable pressure on Houthis to stop the war and bring about peace, makes the international body’s ability to implement its very own resolutions questionable.

The UN envoy is only focusing on one-sided humanitarian aspects, and is inhibiting any military action that weakens Houthi gunmen.

Maintaining Houthis as an effective military force is, in reality, the sole UN success in Yemen.

Amidst a deafening UN silence, Houthis pillaging relief aid sent by UN-affiliated agencies has been going without probing.

This stands as great evidence that the international body is unable to perform its smallest duties.

With an Iranian agenda still puppeteering Houthi decisions --combined with UN inability to pressure Houthis into taking peace efforts seriously-- makes talking of peace negotiations a media filler that is entertained with meetings and conferences destined for failure.

Had the Yemeni army not been accomplishing continuous advances on battlefields, it is easy to see how the current situation may stretch for another three decades.

In that time, dozens of UN envoys will come and go. And the international organization will continue pushing for failing peace processes a fourth, fifth and tenth time.

UN peace efforts will continue flopping so long that they rely on the chances of Houthi militias –who openly push for a scenario of death and destruction befalling a million Yemenis—to come around for sensible negotiations.

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