Root causes of the conflict and structural challenges for a peaceful solution
The reasons for the war in Yemen were manifold. The two main internal causes for the war are a) an elite-conflict within the North and b) the lack of mutually accepted (inclusive) mechanisms to solve the conflict peacefully. There are two additional structural conflicts that further contributed to the war: c) the Saudi-Iranian struggle for hegemony over the region and d) the deep-rooted mistrust of the Southern Yemenis vis-a-vis the North. These root causes and contributing factors need to be addressed, partly during the negotiations, partly during the subsequent political dialogue.
Yemen between war and dialogue
After 2.5 years of military confrontation, Yemen is at a crossroads. Fighting had escalated in summer 2014 between supporters of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government and the Islah party on the one side and the supporters of Ansar Allah (“Houthis”) and the former President Ali Abdullah Salih on the other side. It further intensified, when in March 2015 Hadi and his government had to flee the country into exile and the Arab Coalition, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), entered the war. Despite massive fighting the military situation rather led to a stalemate.
The results of war are devastating and include thousands of dead (according to UN figures: more than 10,000) and injured, in addition to several thousand refugees and IDPs. Besides the destruction of infrastructure and the lack of basic services, the aerial and naval blockade hinders the import of basic food commodities and humanitarian aid, leading to severe malnutrition and famine. In addition, extreme Islamist groups such as al-Qaida and IS have exploited the security vacuum, especially in the south.
Three rounds of UN-led political negotiations in 2015 and 2016 have so far not produced a sustainable ceasefire agreement that would allow for a resumption of the official political dialogue.
Aims & Objectives for 2017 and 2018
The overall aim of this third phase of the project is to support Yemeni and international efforts for a political solution in Yemen that provides the basis to end the war, to resume an inclusive political dialogue and to re-launch the political transition process that has started in 2012.
Based on the current needs and challenges, we pursue four specific project objectives:
Offering and enhance opportunities for problem-solving between Yemeni decision-makers to overcome deadlocks in the peace and transition process and to define areas of potential cooperation (high-level dialogue formats, consultation meetings);
Strengthening substantive consensus building of the Yemeni parties on key issues of the peace and stabilization process (thematic and process support) and to support informal inclusive multiparty dialogue structures (such as the SSG or other multiparty think tanks) as well as mandated structures for the political dialogue (the National Body or other transitional multiparty dialogue formats);
Providing thematic or process related capacity and strategy building to key stakeholder groups to strengthen the peace process and the implementation of future agreements or interim provisions/arrangements;
Supporting peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives in Taiz and to strengthen implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
We work with all relevant Yemeni stakeholders. These include the Yemeni parties involved in the conflict (at leadership and more technical level) as well as the other Yemeni parties and movements to be involved in consensus-building for the continuation of the political transition process and in the political dialogue. We are also working with important and emerging stakeholders in the South, in Taiz and at governorate level.