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An Emirati soldier watches for enemy fire from the rear of a UAE Chinook military helicopter flying over Yemen, Sept. 17, 2015 (AP photo by Adam Schreck).

Yemen Peace Talks Could Save Gulf States From Themselves

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—The encouraging news that a seven-day cease-fire took effect in Yemen today as peace talks to end the country’s civil war got underway in Switzerland will bring relief to Yemenis, but also to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of the country’s president, Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, has had mixed results at best. And a prolonged military engagement there would not enhance regional security, while making it harder to coordinate policies on Syria. But the Gulf states hold diverse views about how to move forward on the other acute problems in the region, none of which seem close to any sort of lasting resolution.

As welcome as the news of a cease-fire in the Yemen war and of new talks between Hadi’s government and the Houthi rebels are, recent experience suggests that a quick path to peace and reconciliation is unlikely. Exhaustion and a stalemate on the battlefield, rather than a meaningful commitment to new power-sharing arrangements, have opened the door to talks. The underlying political issues in Yemen are deep and not easily resolved; a restoration of the status quo ante that does not take into account the geographic splits and tribal dynamics will not suffice to achieve lasting stability. Whatever the motivations that are bringing the parties to the table, both the United Nations negotiator, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and the regional powers pledged to help Yemen restore order will have their hands full. ...

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