On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, US Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking began a tour during which he will visit the Gulf capitals and London to “revitalize peace efforts” and pressure to stop the escalation and address the “painful humanitarian and economic crises” in Yemen.
Two days earlier, the acting US ambassador to the country, Catherine Westley, reiterated her condemnation of the Houthi military escalation, destabilizing hostilities and threatening shipping lanes in the Red Sea.
During her meeting with Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, she indicated her country’s continued support for the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy to reach a peaceful and comprehensive political solution.
Over the past few years, the Yemeni crisis has gone through several stages of US and international mediation, the most prominent of which we highlight through the lines of this report.
National Dialogue Conference
– April 2011: The Secretary-General of the United Nations sent Moroccan Jamal Benomar as a special advisor for Yemen affairs.
– July 13, 2011: The United Nations has repeatedly supported the National Dialogue Conference and the transitional process in Yemen, and Bin Omar said that everyone trying to impede the transition process is now being monitored and under scrutiny.
July 17, 2011: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the launch of preparations for the launch of the Dialogue Conference.
– September 19, 2011: The UN Security Council announced its support for the decisions of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi regarding the restructuring of the Yemeni army.
November 19, 2011: The Secretary-General of the United Nations visited Sana’a, met with members of the Technical Committee for Dialogue, and affirmed the international community’s support for the political process.
– Bin Omar led the mediation between the main parties to the crisis, where it was agreed on the executive mechanism of the Gulf initiative signed on April 3, 2011, which included arranging the system of transferring power and ended with new presidential elections in February 2012.
– September 27, 2012: A closing statement of the fourth meeting of the Friends of Yemen Group in New York considered that the meeting was an embodiment of the continued international support for the democratic transformation process in Yemen, led by President Hadi in accordance with the Gulf initiative and its chronic executive mechanism, and praised the progress made in forming Technical Committee to prepare for the National Dialogue Conference.
The “Friends of Yemen” is a group that includes the main donor blocs, led by the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Turkey, in addition to representatives of several major international and regional organizations, the Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
October 24, 2012: Benomar called on all parties to participate in the dialogue.
December 14, 2012: The Political Department of the United Nations General Secretariat held a special meeting on mobilizing support for Yemen, to support the national dialogue and constitutional reforms.
March 18, 2013: Under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference began its first session in the capital, Sanaa.
– The National Dialogue lasted for 10 months, until January 25, 2014, and was held under the slogan “With dialogue we create the future.”
The Dialogue Conference was chaired by President Hadi, and the conference included 565 members, 50% of whom were citizens of the southern governorates, 30% of the women’s side, and 20% of the youth, who were chosen and nominated by all political parties, actors and civil society organizations in certain proportions.
January 25, 2014: The closing session of the dialogue and the announcement of the final document of the dialogue conference was held at the Republican Palace building in Sana’a, amid a large international and Arab presence.
Peace and Partnership Agreement
– After the Houthis seized Sanaa in the so-called coup of September 21, 2014, and their group took control of the political decision in Yemen after expelling the government authorities, Bin Omar led negotiations that resulted in the signing of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement under the auspices of the United Nations, which stipulated the formation of a new government led by Khaled Bahah In succession to the so-called Government of National Accord, but the agreement failed and was not implemented.
February 9, 2015: Bin Omar announced the resumption of negotiations to resolve the power vacuum crisis after President Hadi and Prime Minister Bahah submitted their resignations on January 22, 2015 after the Houthi attack on the presidential palace on January 19.
– The UN Security Council issued a statement describing Hadi as the “legitimate president” and calling on all parties, particularly the Houthis, to engage in good faith in the UN-sponsored negotiations. Bin Omar announced the possibility of moving the location of the negotiations to a “safe place” outside Sana’a.
– Negotiations did not succeed, and on March 26, 2015, the army forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis took control of Aden, and Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia.
– June 2015: Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the second UN envoy to Yemen (currently serving as his country’s foreign minister), led consultations between the government and the Houthis.
– Only days after these consultations, Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that they had ended without an agreement being reached.
December 2015: The UN envoy managed to hold a meeting for the two parties in the Swiss city of Biel, but no tangible progress was made.
April 2016: Negotiations began in Kuwait between the government and the Houthis after Ould Sheikh Ahmed succeeded in convincing the Yemeni parties to go there. With the start of these direct consultations, the latter said in press statements, “We will only return with peace and security to Yemen.”
August 6, 2016: It was announced that the Kuwaiti consultations had ended without achieving any agreement, which made the military escalation back again between the two parties at that time.
Griffiths.. UN envoy
February 14, 2018: The United Nations announced the appointment of the British Martin Griffiths as the UN envoy to succeed Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
December 2018: Griffiths led international efforts that succeeded in reaching the Stockholm Agreement between the government and the Houthis.
The agreement included a ceasefire in Hodeidah Governorate. It also obligated the parties to exchange all prisoners, including civilians arbitrarily detained.
– Based on the agreement, the Office of the UN Envoy and the International Committee of the Red Cross gathered representatives of the parties in a committee that met several times and negotiated the prisoners’ file.
October 2020: Griffiths also succeeded in sponsoring the exchange of 1,056 prisoners of war by the parties to the conflict, and launched the Track Two negotiations that bypassed the two sides of the conflict and which he relies on to be supportive of the Track One negotiations.
– The Stockholm Agreement is considered the most prominent success for Griffiths, although many of the terms of the agreement were not implemented on the ground, such as the redeployment of forces in Hodeidah, the resolution of the humanitarian situation in Taiz Governorate, and a comprehensive exchange of prisoners.
May 12, 2021: Griffiths announced in his last briefing to the UN Security Council that the Yemeni parties are “unable” to overcome their differences.
February 4, 2021: US President Joe Biden announced, in front of State Department employees in Washington, the cessation of all forms of military support for the Yemen war, and said that it should end.
At the same time, Biden announced the appointment of the diplomat “Lenderking” as his special envoy to Yemen.
August 6, 2021: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoints Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as the fourth special envoy to succeed Griffiths.
Grundberg was keen – during his work as the European Union ambassador to Yemen – to urge the government and the Houthis to return to negotiation, and to encourage the political and military parties to embrace peace, and he said in a previous article that the possibility of peace in Yemen is not a far-fetched fantasy, but an opportunity that exists in reality.
November 4, 2021: Grundberg concludes a visit to Iran, where he met with senior officials and representatives of the international community, stressing the need to support the efforts of the United Nations to reach a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Yemen.
November 8, 2021: US envoy Lenderking makes his first visit to the city of Aden since his appointment as an envoy to his country, coinciding with Grundberg’s visit to Taiz, the first visit of a UN envoy to the city since the outbreak of the war.
January 12, 2022: During his monthly briefing to the Security Council in New York, Grundberg said, “After 7 years of war, it seems that the prevailing belief among all warring parties is that inflicting enough harm on the other side will force it to submit,” describing the recent military escalation as “Among the worst we’ve seen in Yemen in years.”
– The Yemen file faces great complications, due to the widening gap in views between the government and the Houthis, while the government adheres to the necessity of a comprehensive ceasefire in preparation for addressing the humanitarian file and a comprehensive solution to the crisis, the Houthis insist on the need to address the humanitarian situation, open Sanaa airport and introduce fuel without conditions before enter into a cease-fire.
– The government insists that any future negotiations should be based on three references: the Gulf Initiative (2011), the results of the National Dialogue Conference (2013-2014), and Security Council resolutions, especially No. 2216 (which obliges the Houthis to leave the areas under their control), while the Houthis reject these references This makes reconciling the two parties a complex issue.