Searching for the "illusion" of peace with the Houthis from Dhahran to Muscat

English - Tuesday 14 March 2023 الساعة 08:35 am
Al-Mokha, NewsYemen, Ammar Ali Ahmed:

The sudden scene that took place in the Chinese capital, Beijing, last Friday, and the announcement between Iran and Saudi Arabia of resuming diplomatic relations between them, contributed to raising the level of optimism in political circles about the possibility of repeating the scene and announcing a comprehensive agreement to stop the war in Yemen.

 An agreement confirmed by media reports and leaks that it is being prepared - or may have been - through secret negotiations that have been going on for weeks under Omani sponsorship between the Houthi group and Saudi Arabia, which has been leading the Arab coalition in Yemen since March 2015.

Optimism about the success of the Muscat consultations comes despite recent indications of their failure through the return of the language of threat against Saudi Arabia by Houthi leaders. However, the sudden scene in Beijing overshadowed that, in addition to the start of negotiations between the Houthi group and the legitimate government last Saturday in Geneva to discuss  The file of prisoners, about a year after the failure of the implementation of the agreement signed by the two parties to exchange more than 2,200 prisoners.

Indicators and developments all push towards confirming the imminent success of the Muscat consultations in achieving an important breakthrough to stop the war in Yemen and reach a political settlement between the parties to the conflict, while media reports claimed that Riyadh will witness during the month of Ramadan the signing ceremony of an agreement to stop the war between the Yemeni parties and enter into negotiations  directly to end the conflict.

This scenario brings to mind what happened exactly 7 years ago, when it was revealed in March of 2016 that secret consultations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group in Dhahran al-Janoub had succeeded in announcing a cease-fire.  And with arrangements that may exceed in their level and importance what the Muscat consultations can deviate from today.

The Dhahran al-Janoub consultations resulted in the formation of a general coordination committee and sub-committees between the group, the government and Saudi Arabia to supervise the implementation of the UN armistice that was announced in the same month. It was remarkable that the members of the committee were removing mines planted by the Houthis on the border with Saudi Arabia.  The negotiations also resulted in the exchange of prisoners between the parties.

Perhaps the most prominent and surprising scene of the outcomes of these consultations is the visits of the Houthi delegations to Saudi Arabia, led by the spokesman of the Houthi group, Muhammad Abdul Salam, who made unprecedented statements about Saudi Arabia in an interview he conducted with Saudi newspapers, going so far as to claim that his group's war with it was because of "war merchants" and ""  A third party wants the rift to continue because it benefits from the war.”

Being courted by Saudi Arabia by the Houthi spokesman, at the time, prompted him to deny the authenticity of the scenes broadcasted by the group's "Al-Masirah" channel, in which he claimed the group's militias occupied Saudi sites and regions on the border, asking the Saudi newspaper to provide him with these scenes.

The previous conversation of the group’s spokesman to the Saudi newspapers took place at the time in the Kuwaiti capital, and after the start of negotiations there between the group and the legitimate government under international auspices. These negotiations represented one of the understandings that took place between the group and Saudi Arabia in Dhahran al-Janoub.

The Kuwait negotiations, which lasted for three months, failed to reach any result due to the intransigence of the Houthi group in the most important files of the negotiations, such as the formation of the transitional government and the clause of handing over heavy weapons to it, so that the failure of the negotiations represented an announcement of the end of the Dhahran Al-Janoub understandings with Saudi Arabia and the return of the war again and at a more intense pace.  With it, the vocabulary of peace disappears from al-Houthi's speech and spokesman.