Saudi Arabia has made the decision to end the war on Yemen which broke out more than eight years ago, according to several news reports that emerged on April 7.
Citing informed Yemeni sources, the Al-Mayadeen TV reported that the kingdom informed the Yemeni president and members of the Presidential Leadership Council of its decision and briefed them on unannounced meetings with the Iran-aligned Houthis (Ansar Allah) during a recent meeting in Riyadh.
“The Saudi Defense Minister, Khalid bin Salman, briefed the head of the leadership council and members of the council on the solution for a way out of the war on Yemen during their meeting,” the sources told the Beirut-based news channel.
In addition, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen briefed the chairman and members of the Leadership Council on the details of Riyadh’s unannounced understanding with the Houthis and their outcomes.
Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition of Arab countries and backed by the United States, invaded Yemen in 2015 to overthrow the Houthis, who took over the country the prior year. According to the United Nations, the war has so far claimed the lives of more than 370,000 people.
Al-Mayadeen’s sources pointed out that the Saudi vision for the solution welcomes extending the ceasefire in Yemen for another year, in agreement with the Houthis.
“The vision provides for extending the truce in exchange for handing over [employee] salaries, unifying the currency, and opening the port of al-Hudaydah completely,” the sources said.
The sources explained that an extension of the ceasefire with these new conditions will be followed by an official Saudi announcement of the end of the war and the cessation of its interference in Yemen.
After an official declaration for the end of the war, a Yemeni-Yemeni round of consultations will begin under the supervision of the UN and Saudi sponsorship, the sources said, adding that the consultations will seek to agree on a transitional phase for a period of two years.
According to the sources, the Saudi vision is based on discussing, during the transitional period, the future form of the state and the ruling government
“The Saudi vision for a solution in accordance with its understanding with Sanaa is still being discussed and is almost final,” the sources added
The Saudi decision to end the war in Yemen came after the kingdom restored relations with Iran in a deal brokered by China. The invasion of the country was in its core meant to end Tehran’s influence there by defeating the Houthis.
Al-Mayadeen’s report coincided with another by Reuters, which revealed that Saudi and Omani envoys are planning to visit the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, next week to negotiate a permanent ceasefire deal with the Houthis.
If an agreement is reached, the parties could announce it before Islam’s Eid holiday starting April 20, sources informed on the matter told the news agency.
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen on April 8, Mohammad al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthis Political Bureau, said that there is an “understanding” with Saudi Arabia. However, he declined to confirm or deny the news that a Saudi-Omani delegation will visit Sanaa soon.
During the interview, al-Bukhaiti revealed that the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, has begun withdrawing from Yemen.
“We will not allow the presence of any UAE forces on any inch of Yemeni territory,” the official told Al-Mayadeen.
The UAE’s main ally in Yemen is the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, which has not yet commented on the understanding between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis. Abu Dhabi and Riyadh both saw the council as a counterweight to their other allies in the country, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood-oriented Al-Islah Party.
All in all, it appears that the war in Yemen will likely end this year. The settlement could help reshape the political balance in the entire Middle East, ending the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran on one hand and minimizing the influence of both the U.S. and Israel on the other.
The success of the settlement could encourage Saudi Arabia and Iran to cooperate on the security situation in Iraq, the war in Syria and even the economic, political crisis in Lebanon.