Former Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled Al-Yamani expressed his belief that the return of US diplomacy to the forefront of the international scene is a very important development.
Speaking with The Arab Weekly from his place of residence in the United States, Yamani said that the appointment of Tim Lenderking as US special envoy to Yemen is crucial for the Yemeni file. Yamani expects the envoy to coordinate the US administration’s efforts with allies and friends and streamline the humanitarian activities of the US government and international agencies to help the Yemeni people and stop one of the worst humanitarian disasters of time, as described by US President Biden, by halting the war in Yemen and ushering in negotiations for a final political settlement under the auspices of the United Nations.
Yamani said that the United States will not deviate from the path of supporting peace efforts through the UN mediator Martin Griffiths and will spare no effort to achieve peace and help the Yemeni people restore their state. It will also strive to stop Iran’s funding of the Houthis and the militant militia’s repeated attacks on civilian targets and facilities in Saudi Arabia and to put an end to attacks on shipping lanes in the southern Red Sea and their smuggling of weapons from Iran.
In response to a question about the possibility of return to what was known as the John Kerry’s initiative, as one of the pillars of a comprehensive settlement to the Yemeni crisis, or the adoption, instead, of the vision of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, known as the “joint declaration” and viewed as the main reference for the search for a settlement, Yamani said, “It is no longer possible to return to any ideas that were proposed four years ago, as many changes have occurred since then.”
“I think that President Biden was very frank in saying that any effort that the US administration undertakes would be an effort that would support the efforts of the United Nations and the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy”.
According to Yamani, “It is clear that the joint declaration, which Griffiths has been working on for more than eight months, is a very important document on the table for all to consider and was the subject of general agreement. I don’t know why the concerned parties would not want to engage in a constructive dialogue on the joint declaration. The document provide the necessary platform to enter into negotiations towards a political solution, so we should take this initiative and move forward.”
Asked about the ability of “the legitimacy” government in Yemen to absorb the upcoming shifts on regional and international levels, and to face the upcoming challenges, Yamani emphasised that the “legitimacy” is the pillar of peace and it is the party that should fight for peace, fight to end the war and fight to restore the state.
He added, “I believe that the suffering of the Yemeni people is a matter that disturbs the legitimacy government. Alleviating this suffering is the duty of the legitimacy. The efforts deployed today in Aden under the supervision of the legitimacy leadership after the Riyadh Agreement, under the supervision and direct pressure of our brothers, all go in this direction. We all look forward to peace and the end of this war. We look forward to coexistence and this is very important. ”
Addressing questions about whether the UN-promoted “joint declaration”, if signed, could have the same fate as the “Sweden Agreement”, which was not implemented except for the clause related to prisoners, Yamani said, “In fact, there has been a lot of unfairness about the Sweden agreement as many of its provisions were not implemented,” said Yemani who had signed the Stockholm Agreement on Hodeidah when he was minister of foreign affairs.
He added, “Today the Sweden agreement is stalled because there is no desire to accomplish what has been agreed upon. If we carefully examine the document, we will find many missing facts. But I expect that sitting at the table of final settlement consultations and reaching binding agreements for the parties to achieve peace does not require much. The requirements for this peace are not complex. And peace would be based on the principle that the Houthi movement turns into a political organisation. We accept it as a political party and we want it to be a political party. We do not want it to be a hijacker of the Yemeni state, and this will not be achieved in the presence of warlords and militias.”
Yamani stressed the existence today of an opportunity for peace, saying, “As I mentioned earlier, peace has not many requirements, but it needs fateful decisions and visionaries to get our Yemeni people out of this catastrophic situation. If we want it today, there is a historic opportunity to stop the war and enter peace negotiations in Yemen. But if we also desire the opposite, this war could continue for another twelve years.”
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