Supporting Political Dialogue and Transition in Yemen

The overall aim of this project is to support Yemeni and international efforts for a political solution not only to end the war but also to re-launch the political transition process in Yemen that started in 2012.

The project builds on our long-term cooperation with key Yemeni actors in the context of the National Dialogue Support Programme (NDSP). Set up in 2012 this previous project provided facilitation support, negotiation and dialogue trainings, as well as analysis papers, coaching and public education materials to complement the then official negotiations of the National Dialogue Conference.

Since the escalation of the crisis at the end of 2014, we organised a series of inclusive multiparty consultations in- and outside the country to support consensus-building among the Yemeni actors. These high-level meetings are organized in close cooperation with the Office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen to complement and strengthen official negotiations through an informal track-II dialogue process. The project further provides thematic support to help the Yemeni parties to develop concrete problem-solving mechanisms and to identify pathways not only to end the war but out of the crisis. In this context, crucial issues such as interim security measures and confidence-building mechanisms, the restoration of state institutions , elements of a transition roadmap, mechanisms of inclusion and the division of powers, the “Southern issue", the organization of a future political dialogue in Yemen, as well as ways to strengthen local governance structures are tackled.

Timeframe

2017-2018 (phase IV)

Conflict Setting

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.

Key actors

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.


Partner

Our main partner in the National Dialogue Support Programme is the Political Development Forum Yemen.

Funders

Our activities are mainly funded by the German Foreign Ministry.

  • Since summer 2015 bi-monthly meetings of the Strategic Support Group, a multi-party think-tank and problem-solving mechanism in Sana’a
  • Since end of 2015 high-level consultation meetings of eminent persons outside Yemen (Jordan, Lebanon, Germany), in close cooperation with UN envoy (Nov, Dez 2015, March, May, June, July, Oct., Dec. 2016, March, April, May 2017)
  • Since summer 2016, support to Taizi peace initiatives, the local Dialogue Forum and the Societal Peace Committee; facilitating meetings and discussions of Eminent Taizi personalities 
  • Since 2016, initiating and supporting meetings of an inclusive Youth Forum in Sana’a.
  • Small thematic expert papers and analyses; mapping papers

Summary of the meetings and thematic background papers are all for limited circulation and/or internal use.

Stabilisation and mediation: the mediators >
Article on the work of our Yemen team (website of the German Foreign Office)