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For The Sake of The Stockholm Agreement

For The Sake of The Stockholm Agreement

Thursday, 17 January, 2019 - 09:00
Salman Al-dossary
Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper
A few days ago, the Houthis targeted a celebration of the Yemeni army with an Iranian-made drone carrying 30 kilograms of explosives that detonated in the air above the main podium of senior guests, killing six people and wounding 18 Yemeni soldiers, who were parading in front of a number of high-ranking military leaders.

The attack constituted a serious turning point in the peace deal reached in Stockholm in mid-December but was not the only violation committed by the Houthis since the cease-fire began in Hodeidah. There were around 500 recorded violations, not to mention their breach of commitments made in Sweden by failing to meet the final withdrawal dates from the port of Hodeidah set by the United Nations.

Moreover, no consensus was reached over the confidence-building measures. This puts the one-month-old Stockholm Agreement on the verge of collapse, in the wake of the Houthis’ intransigence and their failure to implement the commitments, which they had approved and agreed upon in front of the international community.

Houthis’ obstinacy is not something new. Since the first day of their coup against the legitimacy in September 2014, they have demonstrated their unwillingness to be a tool of peace. More than 75 agreements were forged between the Yemeni army and the Houthis during the six wars between them, without the rebels being able to abide by at least one of them.

This was confirmed by a “minister” in the Houthis’ illegitimate government, Hassan Zaid, who said that his group’s approval of the Stockholm Agreement was a “strategic error”, claiming that Houthis have lost many arguments of humanitarian aspect that they were using in their favor in the corridors of the international community and the United Nations, adding that attention is now shifted towards the group’s intransigence and its refusal to implement the agreement.

The key problem facing any pending solution to the Yemeni crisis is the soft handling by the United Nations of Houthis’ behavior in their violation of any peace deal and their repeated undermining of all previous agreements. As long as there are no costs for these violations, what will force the Houthis, and their Iranian sponsor, to accept any peace agreement?!

Houthis’ violations of the Stockholm Agreement pose another serious threat to the credibility of the peace process, which is always stalled by their behavior. While the United Nations is taking clear steps towards the peace deal, it gives up its role in naming the side impeding this process.

In the event of the collapse of the current agreement, the credibility of the UN will be very weak. Without the international community and the UN asserting that the Houthis are the intransigent and manipulative side of what has been agreed upon in Sweden, the Yemeni crisis will further deteriorate, and all efforts to bring peace will fail. Chaos will persist and Yemen will become a source of insecurity to the Arab world, under the consent of the international community and the United Nations.

For the sake of the fragile ceasefire agreement, and to avoid that the crisis returns to point zero, the international community must intervene to stop Houthis’ abuses and to assert that the rebels are responsible for violating the peace agreement. Then the United States must intervene - as the main sponsor of the Stockholm talks - and allow the Yemeni army to complete its plans to liberate Hodeidah and all other cities by force of arms. What cannot be achieved through peace can only be attained by war.

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