According to UN diplomats familiar with the situation, Western nations are quietly pressing Saudi Arabia on the war in Yemen, which has now spanned nine months despite officials initially expecting a quick, sweeping victory. With that looking increasingly unlikely, the Saudis are under pressure to make a deal.
With UN-brokered peace talks to begin next week, the pro-Saudi side is making some suggestions that a settlement is possible, though they are still insisting it has to come with a virtually complete surrender of the Shi’ite Houthis.
A pre-war UN Security Council resolution endorsing the return of President Hadi seems to be what they’re basing this expectation on, though with a UN Security Council meeting on Yemen scheduled for December 22, the West is really hoping to have some progress to show off by then.
While details on what’s expected are scant, Western diplomats are reportedly trying to get the Saudis to accept the Houthis having at least some role in the new government. The Saudis have previously suggested they wouldn’t negotiate that point until after the Houthis surrendered completely, which the Houthis have interpreted, likely correctly, as a “no.”
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