Ceasefire fails to have lasting effect in Yemen

Ceasefire fails to have lasting effect in Yemen | Courtesy of Shutterstock
After an ill-fated ceasefire last month, the violence in the Gulf Coast country of Yemen continues unabated, with new reports from The New York Times showing more Saudi-led airstrikes killing and injuring dozens of people Oct. 30.
 
The conflict -- which has been going on since the overthrow of Yemen's government by Houthi rebel groups in September 2014 -- is, in many ways, a conflict between major powers in the region, and in the world. It is largely drawn along Sunni and Shia lines, with Saudi Arabia supporting the previously established government and Iran supporting the rebel groups.
 
Salvos between rebel positions and a U.S. warship threatened to throw the United States directly into the mix early in October and led to more observations of how the Yemen civil war has become much more than an internal struggle.
 
Now, a proposed United Nations resolution is aimed at demanding a cease-fire and negotiations in Yemen -- but, although the draft is emerging from the U.N. Council, reports like this one from the Jakarta Post show that it may be unlikely to be accepted by all parties.
 
U.N. experts cite a humanitarian crisis, with more than 21 million people in need of assistance.
 
On Monday, Gulf News Journal spoke with Jonathan Rudy about the prospects for peace in this troubled part of the world. Rudy is global peacemaker-in-residence at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania. He is also senior advisor for human security at the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Rudy holds a master’s degree in religion with a graduate certificate in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite Seminary/University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
 
Citing street protests and the proliferation of suffering and instability in Yemen, Rudy said part of the crisis involves a lack of centralized authority.
 
“There is a need for government legitimacy,” he said.
 
Rudy also warned that ongoing airstrikes and other efforts are hindering opportunities for building a peaceful resolution.
 
“Every time a bomb is dropped, it extends the time it takes to get back to the table,” he said. “We’re just on the wrong track.”
 
One major source of the solution, according to Rudy, would be an effort to give more visibility and voice to local parties who might be able to really pursue negotiations with creative ideas that have grassroots support.
 
Rudy went on to say it's unfortunate that local leaders, including women’s groups, who might be able to move forward in negotiations often don't have much media coverage or support, while military actions get quite a lot of publicity, leading many to believe that those actions are the only course forward.
 
Meanwhile, people who might have the expertise to craft peaceful solutions are all too often ignored in the national media.
 
“We have to start looking for those voices,” he said.
 
Rudy also mentioned the need for regional pressures toward peace but acknowledged that there are substantial limits to what the U.N. can do, referring to the U.N. as, in some ways, “hamstrung.”
 
According to Rudy, it could take a coalition of broader sponsors and local activists and leaders to make the case for peace to a war-torn country.
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