US Envoy Sees Productive Meetings on Yemen Peace Talks

Hopeful on coordinating new talks through the UN

US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking has returned to the US after a series of meetings in Saudi Arabia and Oman. The State Department says they were productive meetings centering on new peace talks through the UN Special Envoy.

Details aren’t all clear, but the meetings were with Omanis, Saudis, and Yemenis. It isn’t clear if the Yemeni participant included any members of the Houthi opposition, or just the Saudi-backed government.

Six years into the war there have been several attempts at a resolution that would end the conflict. In the past, the Houthis have insisted on free elections as part of the deal, though the Saudi-backed government has been reluctant to agree.

The Yemen government, such as it is, was elected to a single two-year term, in an election without opponents. That term ended in 2014 and was unilaterally extended. Though many years beyond even their dubious pretext of being an elected government, they maintain that UN endorsement of the 2012 election means they should be allowed to remain in power after the war.

The government has thus resisted any peace, figuring the Saudis would ultimately win the war and ensure their rule. They’re a lot more certain of that than the Saudis are, however, as much of the country remains stalemated, and the Houthis still control virtually the entire north.

Making a deal is going to be more about getting everyone willing to deal, as nowhere so much as here, there is a clear lack of military solution, and the war could seemingly drag on forever without meaningful resolution.

The US seems increasingly interested in seeing the war ended, a shift from the previous policy of just backing whatever the Saudis ultimately decided to do.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.