Saudi Arabia Wants Out of Yemeni War, Fears Int’l Backlash
By Staff, Reuters
A military drawdown by the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Saudi Arabia in Yemen is building momentum for a nationwide truce this year, bolstering efforts by the Saudi-led coalition to end a war that has tarnished the image of US-allied Gulf states.
Two diplomatic sources said talks could start by autumn on expanding a UN-led truce already in place in the port city of Hudaydah to a broad ceasefire.
This could pave the way for negotiations on a political framework to end the war, they said.
The UAE has concluded that the four-year-old war cannot be won militarily while it is under close scrutiny by the West, a conviction shared by Riyadh, according to two diplomats and a regional source familiar with the situation.
There is now “real momentum” for a cessation of hostilities by December, a source in the region familiar with the matter said, though “a million things could still go wrong”.
“They [the UAE] don’t want to keep getting beaten up over a war they can’t win,” said the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The war has been in a military stalemate for years. The Saudi-led coalition has air supremacy but has been criticized for attacks that have martyred thousands of civilians.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
In a similar notion, a Gulf official said, “The Saudis are on the same page [as the UAE]. They want to see an end [to the war], but they are understandably concerned about every attack on them”.
Abu Dhabi said its decision to remove troops and hardware deployed for an offensive last year on Hudaydah was taken more than a year ago in coordination with Riyadh.
Regional analysts said any fresh talks would require Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Ansarullah revolutionaries to reduce mutual tension after recent operations on Saudi oil installations.
Meanwhile, Western criticism of the Yemen war has also intensified, impacting strategic ties and arms deals, several diplomats said.
US lawmakers are pushing through legislation to curb arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, although US President Donald Trump has said he will veto the moves.
Some countries including Germany and Sweden have restricted arms sales to coalition members over the war, which has spawned an urgent humanitarian crisis in the long-impoverished country where more than three-quarters of the population need aid.
“This is the beginning of the end of the Saudi-led coalition phase in Yemen,” the first diplomat said.