Whether it is the Houthis that cease hostilities first, as Houthis offered on Sep 20, or Saudi Arabia, as Jeffery Feltman described on @ForeignAffairs in 2018, doesn’t really matter when it comes to resolving Yemen's conflict

My recent for @MiddleEastInst
@ForeignAffairs @MiddleEastInst The argument is frequently made that ending hostilities between Riyadh & the Houthis is the key to #peace, but this tends to either overlook the domestic roots of the conflict that derailed Yemen’s relatively peaceful & inclusive transition following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising
@ForeignAffairs @MiddleEastInst Or succumb to violence that non-state actors, including Houthis, have adopted to accomplish political objectives.

#Yemen's recent history must not be distorted by those in policy/advocacy circles with anti-Saudi agenda that ends up benefiting militias at the expense of Yemenis.
@ForeignAffairs @MiddleEastInst A return to the basics is important Senator @ChrisMurphyCT.

Broadly, the current conflict is the result of accumulated grievances, unequal distribution of wealth, poor governance, entrenched corruption & social inequalities left unaddressed during President Saleh’s 33-year rule.
More immediately, it was sparked by the capture of Sana’a by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels & forces loyal to Saleh in Sep 2014 & overturning of the transitional authority of President Hadi — broadly, the UN-endorsed, GCC-sponsored peace process @j_feierstein & @mohdsalj supported.
In Mar 2015, 6 months after the Houthi coup d’état, Riyadh, along with around 10 Sunni countries, established a military coalition at President Hadi’s request to curb Iranian influence & restore Hadi's regime to Sana'a. So, the leading cause of today’s conflict is armed rebellion
Not only has Houthi violence jeopardised Yemen’s transition, but their quest to make Yemen a bargaining chip for Iran has had broader ramifications as well, threatening the stability of the country, along with Gulf security, global energy supplies, and regional maritime trade.
The Houthis frame the conflict between KSA & Yemen (or them) to manipulate international perceptions, creating a narrative that projects the Houthis as victims rather than perpetrators to the Western media & as a resistance movement that protects Yemen against external aggression
By embracing the Houthi narrative, state & non-state actors are deliberately discarding what actually happened & spreading disinformation to accomplish their own objectives, whitewashing Yemen’s recent history.

External actors are fighting a different battle from Yemenis.
What does the Houthi initiative mean for Yemen?

A cessation of hostilities between Riyadh and the Houthis would bring about a reduction of #violence, but not an end to the #war. It does not in any way suggest that the Houthis will stop their attacks on other Yemenis.
For instance, they fired missiles at Amran and Sa’ada provinces on Sept. 24, shortly after they announced their de-escalation — a clear sign that it is limited to Riyadh and that their violence against fellow Yemenis will continue.
Unless it is conditional on a broader Yemeni peace process, @KSAMOFA reciprocity would only put the Houthis in a more favorable position. First, it would remove the pressure from the Saudi aerial campaign that has partly constrained their ability to capture more territory ..
..furthering the Houthis’ perceived sense of victory following the UAE’s drawdown. Second, it would give the Houthis room to regroup, rearm & redeploy their forces ahead of the next escalation to tighten their control over Hodeida and extend their influence in other #frontlines.
Third, detached from a broader national conflict resolution effort, the move might end up actually reducing the Houthis’ incentives to engage in peace talks.

Without a doubt, the cessation of hostilities between regional actors and the Houthis remains important ..
..but an overarching peace agreement that would bring about an end to hostilities locally and regionally must take priority.

In calling on Riyadh and the Houthis to unconditionally cease military operations against one other, the risks are high.
For six decades now, Yemen has been trapped in a cycle of conflict of varying intensities, and the Yemeni people deserve a sustainable and credible peace process — one which the Stockholm Agreement has so far proven unable to deliver.
A coalition withdrawal or mutual cessation of hostilities should be an integral part of a broader political settlement whose implementation is internationally monitored & includes clear national reconciliation & transitional justice measures. To look forward we must look backward
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