WASHINGTON, D.C., United States —
In his keynote address, the Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to the United States, Mohammad Al-Hadhrami, expressed his enthusiasm to shed light on the consensus that a just and sustainable peace in Yemen should be a priority for the international community as well as for U.S. policymakers.
His Excellency emphasized the need to alter strategies deployed to end the war and achieve sustainable peace. Al-Hadhrami noted that the failure to unite as one before April 2022 is one of the reasons why the Yemeni government has not been able to end the war. Furthermore, he emphasized that the Houthis, with Iran’s influence, were and still are not ready for peace. “Since the coup in 2014, the in-fightings within the factions of the government on one hand, and the continuous support from Iran to the Houthis on the other, have both made it possible for the Houthis not only to consolidate their grip over the capital Sana’a but also to expand to other area.”
Al-Hadhrami iterated the Presidential Leadership Council, PLC, President Rashad al-Alimi’s pledge that the council is committed to working as one. Despite the challenges, the PLC’s primary objective is to end the war and reinstate state institutions. The Ambassador urged the international community to support the PLC and to maintain Yemeni unity under one leadership militarily, politically, and economically, stating that it is the best chance Yemen has to end the war.
Al-Hadhrami noted that “even though there is no viable military solution to end the war, we know for a fact peace will not happen without military pressure,” considering the Houthis’ persistence in thwarting all peace efforts. Politically, he pleaded that returning to Aden as the PLC’s temporary capital, and opening new embassies, especially by the coalition, friends, and allies, would urge the Houthis to realize that Aden will get stronger before they would vouch for peace. Economically, he pressed the coalition to fulfill their pledge of $3+ billion promised in April 2022. Finally, Al-Hadhrami commended the coalition for their support thus far and urged them to take drastic measures to show the Houthis that what is to come is different than what had been in the past, seeing this as the only way to put an end to this war.
On the truce, the Ambassador highlighted its essential role in de-escalating the war; however, the government being the only party respecting and absorbing the terms of the agreement without the Houthis’ full cooperation hinders a viable peace process. He stressed the need to attain a viable democratic platform upon which all Yemenis can freely choose their rulers and be engaged in civic discourse and forming a new social contract for all Yemenis to have equal rights and responsibilities. “We support the extension of the truce, but not just any truce, and not with the new conditions the Houthis have presented. We support a truce that delivers to all Yemenis and that requires the Houthis to totally fulfill all their obligations, and unfortunately, as we stand right now, they are not doing it.”
Al-Hadhrami cited the Yemeni government’s recent initiatives to alleviate the Yemeni people’s hardships and the Houthis’ insufficient response to them. For example, re-opening the Sana’a Airport for commercial flights and proposing to issue travel documents for those living in Sana’a to travel and obtain new passports from other destinations, such as Jordan. However, the Houthis’ continued refusal to cooperate and further use of illegitimate passports compromises the integrity of the Yemeni passport. In addition, he expanded on the Yemeni government’s facilitation of gas and oil entrance through Hodeidah’s port. While the Houthis continue to block the government from checking ships’ documentation and threatening compliant merchants, the government of Yemen is unable to confirm whether the Houthis are receiving free oil from Iran, as previously reported by the UN.
Furthermore, regarding the siege on Taiz, Al-Hadhrami proposed that the international community and the UN adopt the same strategy they used to resolve the Safer Tanker issue. Considering the humanitarian impact of the Houthi siege, detaching Taiz from the peace negotiations will dismantle the Houthis’ capacity to use it as a bargaining chip moving forward.
Al-Hadhrami considers the Houthi coup part of Iran’s regional expansion project and must be sent a strong message from the U.S. and the international community, especially considering its destabilizing behavior in the region and Yemen in particular. “Without Iranian help and Hezbollah’s expertise in weapons, the Houthis wouldn’t have been able to do what they are doing right now.”
Finally, the Ambassador praised the support of the U.S. administration for the PLC and the work of the U.S. Special Envoy. However, he wished for a more assertive stance from congress in exposing Iran’s malignant activities in Yemen and linking Yemen to any possible deal with Iran in the future. Al-Hadhrami concluded, “Without a holistic approach to deal with this conflict, with all the factors I mentioned above, the Yemeni conflict will prolong, and Yemenis will not be able to find a solution, I am afraid. I hope this conference will help us find a way to address a sustainable solution.”
The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies launched the WCYS 1st Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope in Washington, D.C., on September 29th. Since then, Yemeni-led in-depth conversations have brought together various political, economic, and civil society actors by offering an inclusive platform for diverse voices in Yemeni affairs to share insights and advance solutions for overarching issues and struggles in ending the crisis.
-Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to the United States, Mohammed Al-Hadhrami Keynote Address at the 1st WCYS Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope.