News Analysis: Yemeni peace talks in Riyadh turning point, settlement not imminent: experts

CAIRO, April 13– The deteriorating humanitarian conditions in war-torn Yemen drew the world’s attention to the ongoing two-month ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties, and the newly-formed Presidential Leadership Council following the Yemeni peace talks held in the Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh from March 29 to April 7. Some Egyptian experts regard…

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, April 13 (Xinhua) — The deteriorating humanitarian conditions in war-torn Yemen drew the world’s attention to the ongoing two-month ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties, and the newly-formed Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) following the Yemeni peace talks held in the Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh from March 29 to April 7.

Some Egyptian experts regard the ceasefire as a “turning point” not only in Yemen’s political landscape, but also in the strategies implemented by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf country that has been leading an anti-Houthi military campaign in Yemen since 2015.

TURNING POINT

The Yemeni scene is heading towards “a major turning point” based on two main variables, said Ahmed Eliba, a political researcher at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS).

The first change is related to the form of the political authority in Yemen. “The structure of the new authority reveals a gradual return to the rules of governance in Yemen that corresponds to the latest developments,” Eliba told Xinhua.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced Thursday in Riyadh that he has handed over his power to the newly-formed PLC that will succeed him in running the government and holding peace talks with the Houthis.

He explained that the formation of the PLC is a replacement of the role of tribes, which the typical Yemeni authority relied on, with an alliance of political forces, but “it is too early to judge the strength of this alliance.”

The eight-member PLC is headed by Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi, an advisor to Hadi and former interior minister under the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al-Alimi is known for close ties with various factions in Yemen as well as with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The second change is related to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemeni crisis, according to Eliba.

“Saudi Arabia intends to end its military role in the Yemeni crisis,” he said.

He noted that the ongoing UN-brokered truce reached in early April between the Houthi militia and the Yemeni government forces could be “a prelude to a future security agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis for a ceasefire.”

LONG WAY TO GO

The process of “transition of power” did not come within a process of “political transition” that comprises all the conflicting parties in Yemen, particularly the Houthis, which indicates that “it is still too early to reach a real project for a settlement in Yemen,” according to Eliba.

For his part, Gehad Auda, a political science professor at Helwan University, preferred to describe the results of the inter-Yemeni talks in Riyadh as “a beginning” and “a good step” towards a settlement in Yemen rather than “a turning point.”

The success of the Yemeni dialogue in Riyadh depends on the agreement between Saudi Arabi that backs the Yemeni government and Iran that supports the Houthis, said Auda.

“There will be a solution to the crisis, but it will be slow and longstanding,” the professor told Xinhua.

The “big and complicated” Yemeni issue needs the mediation of other powers, like the United States, Britain and Israel, which have a base on the Yemeni island of Socotra, he noted.

Otherwise, it will remain a regional issue, he added. Enditem

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