Script: Dr. LAKSHMI PRIYA, Research Analyst, West Asia
Saudi Arabia announced a peace plan for Yemen and proposed a comprehensive ceasefire across the country under the supervision of the United Nations. The plan recommends the beginning of consultation for the resolution of the political and humanitarian crisis based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf initiative and its implementation mechanism, and the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue. The peace plan also puts forward the reopening of Sana’a International Airport to several direct regional and international flights. The Saudi initiative emphasizes the deposition of taxes and custom revenues for ships carrying oil derivatives to the port of Hodeidah in the joint account of the Central Bank of Yemen in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement of 2018. This is in line with the peace discussions in Biel, Geneva Kuwait and Stockholm.
The peace initiative which is a result of the continuous efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, US Special Envoy to Yemen and the pro-active role of the Sultanate of Oman gives Houthis an opportunity to uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia mentioned that the peace plan provides Houthis with a prospect of becoming partners in the peace process and address the prevailing humanitarian and economic crisis in Yemen while countering Iran’s expansionary ambitions.
Saudi Arabia affirmed the right to defend its land and people from the Houthi attacks and rejected Iranian interference in the region. It remains committed to the alleviation of human suffering while supporting the legitimate government in Yemen. However, the Houthis have rejected the deal citing lack of mention about the ceasefire. Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdelsalam said that the proposal for a nationwide cease-fire has nothing new in it and mainly represents the Saudi and the UN vision. Abdelsalam added that the Saudi-led coalition is using blockade to make Yemeni people accept unacceptable demands and that the Saudi-led coalition was unable to achieve success militarily and politically.
The Yemen conflict is rooted in the failure of a political transition following the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, that forced the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Houthis, the Zaidi Shia Muslim minority outfit controls a large part of Yemen. The Houthis face opposition from the Saudi led coalition comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and other Arab countries. The Militants from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local affiliate of the rival Islamic State group (IS) too have seized territory in the south of Yemen and carry out deadly attacks adding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
Stability in Yemen is significant for India as the crisis has impacted India-Yemen relations. New Delhi relocated its embassy from Sana’a to Djibouti in 2015 and issued an advisory banning Indians from travelling to Yemen. The same year, New Delhi successfully implemented Operation “Raahat” and evacuated more than four thousand Indians and 960 foreign nationals belonging to 41 countries by air and sea. India is engaged in humanitarian aid and reconstruction activities in Yemen. New Delhi has expressed interest in Yemen’s petroleum and natural gas sectors and hopes that the Saudi initiative will lead to an early settlement of conflict resulting in peace, progress and prosperity of the Yemeni.
The Saudi peace plan is a positive development in the Yemen conflict. India has welcomed the Saudi initiative for fostering peace in Yemen. New Delhi supports all efforts to find a political solution to the Yemeni crisis and is hopeful about all the parties joining the negotiation table shortly. India has constantly appreciated the efforts of ceasefire in Yemen and expects that cessation of hostilities will lead to resumption of political dialogue leading to peace and stability in Yemen and the region at large. India stands with Yemen as evident from its appreciation for the signing of Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni Government and the South Transitional Council in 2019 and its strong condemnation of the attack at Aden airport in December 2020.