Kuwait, with a historical role in successfully mediating peace between warring factions in the region, will once again be center-stage as opposing sides in the Yemen conflict arrive in the country to attend peace talks beginning on 18 April.
The inter-Yemeni peace talks hosted by Kuwait and being held under the aegis of the United Nations, aims to find a viable settlement to the conflict, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2216, as well as other relevant resolutions. The talks are being seen as a last-ditch effort to end the plight of the Yemeni people and bring peace to this long-suffering land.
Resolution 2216, which was passed in April 2015, demanded all parties in the embattled country to immediately and unconditionally end all violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition. The resolution also imposed sanctions on individuals undermining the stability of Yemen, including on Abdulmalik al-Houthi the leader of the Houtis and on Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, son of the former president.
The resolution also demanded that the Houtis relinquish arms seized from military and security institutions; cease all actions falling exclusively within the authority of the legitimate Government of Yemen and fully implement previous Council resolutions. In addition it called upon all Yemeni parties to abide by the Gulf Cooperation Council and other initiatives and to resume the United Nations-brokered political transition.
Unfortunately, the Resolution was by and large ignored by all parties involved. Moreover, the holding of the first peace talks, hosted in Geneva, Switzerland, by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, also failed to defuse the conflict and the violence continued unabated. However, a recent UN-brokered cease-fire declared on 10 April now appears to be holding. Given the centrality of cessation of hostilities to the success of any peace talks, the current cease-fire is a necessary first-step for the start of peace talks in Kuwait.
Kuwait, which has a long history of successful mediation efforts aimed at defusing tension, resolving differences and bringing about peace in the region, has been the preferred go-between in settling many recent regional disputes.
Over the last five decades, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has played a pivotal role in resolving many inter-Arab disputes, first as the country’s long-standing and well-respected foreign minister, then as prime minister and now as the Amir. The State of Kuwait, represented by His Highness, has played a key role in settling several Arab disputes, including the ones between Egypt and Yemen and between Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the era of the late Egyptian president Jamal Abdul Nasser.
Kuwait has played host to summits and peace conferences that have contributed to bringing about peace in the region, including defusing the dispute between Jordan and Palestine in 1970 and ending border skirmishes between South and North Yemen in 1972. Following a visit to both Yemeni capitals by His Highness the Amir, who was then the foreign minister, the two sides signed a peace agreement.
Similarly, when war broke out between North Yemen and South Yemen in1979, Kuwait hosted a conference which brought together presidents of the two sides who reached an agreement that ended the conflict and eventually unified the two countries. His Highness the Amir also played a great role when he was foreign minister in 1989 and presided over a committee which managed to make reconciliation between Lebanese people. This led to the Taif Agreement which ended the civil war in Lebanon.