Have the Bani Saud been sufficiently chastened and beaten to sue for peace in Yemen? Recent reports suggest they have held secret talks with the Houthis and will be holding further discussions. Their one-year-long war has caused a lot of civilian casualties leading to war crimes charges. Perhaps they want to cut their losses and end the war that is going nowhere. The next few days and weeks will tell.
Wednesday March 09, 2016, 10:07 EST
With their policies unraveling all around them, the Saudis appear to have decided to minimize their losses before they lose everything. They have neither succeeded in overthrowing President Bashar al Asad of Syria nor defeated the Ansarallah fighters in Yemen.
Instead, these failures have sharpened internal divisions giving rise to calls for the removal of King Salman, his upstart son Muhammad who is defence minister, and Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef.
Two other developments must have increased anxiety in Riyadh. The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for ban on the sale of weapons to the Saudi regime because of possible war crimes committed in Yemen. Even the United Nations has expressed deep concern over the killing of civilians and said these may constitute war crimes.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said last week the organization was investigating Saudi Arabia's use of banned munitions in Yemen, including cluster bombs. This could certainly increased anxiety levels in Riyadh.
Regarding Syria, the Bani Saud (aka the House of Saud) continue to repeat the mantra that “Asad must go,” but the rest of the world has moved on. It is in Yemen that they appear to have had a rethink.
Reports in the London-based newspaper, Rai al-Youm edited by Abdul Bari Atwan, said the Saudi regime has held secret talks with Yemen’s Houthis and agreed to more negotiations in the Jordanian capital, Amman in the coming days.
Atwan is well informed and well connected in Arab circles in the British capital. The report carried on Tuesday March 8 in the Arabic paper said the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed had been informed the United Nations under-secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman of the talks in a secret letter.
The report further said the paper had obtained a copy of the letter. That the Saudi regime has not issued a denial means the report is accurate.
The Houthis had demanded all along that they are prepared to enter into negotiations but not with Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi whom they see as having no authority since he had resigned in February as president of Yemen in February 2015. Further, he is a Saudi puppet so why should the Houthis negotiate with the puppet instead of the puppet masters.
Hadi is not even in Yemen; he lives in Saudi Arabia after fleeing the country in February 2015. Militias loyal to him have had little success in confronting the Ansarallah fighters that continue to control the capital Sanaa as well as north of the country.
The Saudis have completely failed in their objectives prompting their military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri to acknowledge last month that the kingdom was stuck in a “static war” against its southern neighbor.
The Ansarallah fighters and their allied units have launched successful missile strikes against Saudi military bases in the south of the kingdom causing massive casualties. Large quantities of weapons have also been captured from fleeing Saudi soldiers that completely lack motivation or military skills.
If the Saudis are prepared to end their disastrous war on Yemen, this will be the first sign that they have realized the folly of their policies.
There are moves afoot to press charges against the rulers in the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.