A Fragile Truce in Yemen

Co-authored by Hassan El-Tayyab

At the eleventh hour just last week, parties to Yemen’s eight-year war extended their two-month truce, which is a positive development. While some have said the reasoning is “unclear,” a recent introduction of a War Powers Resolution by Congress can easily be viewed as a critical factor in the extension. To make this peace truly permanent, Congress must pass the resolution and end US support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war.

Yet, as Congress is considering finally using its leverage, President Joe Biden appears adamant about abandoning his. Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and had released the intelligence that implicated MBS in the brutal killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But now, for the sake of oil price concerns, Biden is breaking his rule of not dealing directly with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (referred to as MBS). Instead, he plans on traveling to the region to meet directly with MBS (albeit now delayed) and formalize a US security commitment with the Saudis and other Arab partners.

Biden’s shift is troubling and could also have drastic implications for US policy and Yemen. For example, if US pressure to end the war evaporates, the Saudis, Emiratis, and their proxies will likely push to escalate fighting once the extended truce ends in early August 2022. The Houthis will respond in kind, regardless of the consequences for civilians, even though over 400,000 of them have been killed due to the war.

However, if the War Powers Resolution passes, it would effectively ground the Saudi Royal Air Force, significantly limiting the Saudis’ capacity to keep fighting. MBS is eager to avoid the humiliation of being unable to operate his air force, and this prospect represents a key factor in his apparent decision to encourage his Yemeni partners to renew the ceasefire.

Read the full article in Inkstick Media.