News Analysis: Why does U.S. push urgently for peace process in Yemen now?

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-03 03:15:41|Editor: yan
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by Mohamed al-Azaki

SANAA, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The United States has been mounting pressure to bring an end to the war in Yemen that is pitting its close allies in the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi rebels.

After more than three years of devastating war that killed thousands and brought the whole Yemeni nation to the brink of starvation, why is the United States stepping up its pressures now?

The U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has called for "immediate end" to the war in Yemen.

"It looks like very, very early in December up in Sweden we'll see both the Houthi rebel side and the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will be up there," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon last week.

Mattis' words were quickly backed by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In the U.S. Congress, many senators have risen their voices to end the U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia, increasing pressure on Trump administration to end the war in Yemen.

They are now preparing to pass a legislation to completely end the U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia.

Also, many European countries, including France, have backed the calls for ending the conflict in Yemen. Some European governments announced a pause of their weapon sales to Saudi Arabia.

Britain sent its Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to Riyadh to press for an end to the Yemen's war.

Now, after such unprecedented push, the United Nations is well confident that all rival parties to the conflict will engage in those upcoming peace process.

These accelerating moves are raising a question, why now?

"The U.S. diplomatic movements have begun in early October, after the Western media began to learn about details of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," said Abdelelah Haidar, a Yemeni political analyst and an expert on the U.S. political issues based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, who was a journalist for The Washington Post, was reportedly assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

The Saudi government has since been facing increasing pressure to disclose the perpetrators behind the murder of Khashoggi, as well as to end its war in Yemen.

"It appeared to be a U.S. military decision by the Pentagon chief Mattis as he was the first U.S. official to demand an immediate end to the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen," Haidar told Xinhua.

Before Mattis' move, many voices in the Congress, which are very critical to the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, have increasingly demanded the punishment against the murders of Khashoggi and called for an end to the Yemen's war.

"The victory of democrats in the midterm elections in the Congress in late October has sped up the pressure on Trump's administration," Haidar said.

"The democratic's senators were backed by a large-scale support from the leading U.S. media outlets, which focused on the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen and linked it with the murder of Khashoggi," he said.

"I think, the Congress' pressure is targeting Trump himself ... it targeted the personal business relationship between Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the Saudi royal family," Haidar said.

Analyst Adel al-Assar of Sanaa-based daily Althawra newspaper said that "all comes together, the Congress' actions and U.S. media reports on Yemen's war, to put Trump administration to do something."

"The democrats in the Congress are preparing to move ahead toward a complete cut of the U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia," al-Assar said.

"So, Trump and Kushner have their own personal motive to save Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom they have a very special friendship," he added.

The Congress' movements and Trump's "personal motivation" are two important factors that could probably explain what was behind the U.S. quick action towards its close ally Saudi Arabia and the war of Yemen.

The same movements could also be seen recently in the discussions inside the British House of Commons and the House of Lords, which focused on Khashoggi's murder and the war in Yemen.

Professor Ali al-Ammary of the Faculty of Media in Sanaa University argued that the increasing pictures of Yemen's war, particularly the airstrikes, the Yemeni malnourished children and depressed Yemeni families on western media front pages, were the key factor behind the recent international pressure to end the war.

"The peoples in the U.S. and Europe have become aware that millions of Yemeni children are dying from malnutrition, starvation and epidemic diseases as a result from the Saudi-led coalition naval blockade for more than three years," said al-Ammary.

It was an "ignored war" for many months because many western journalists had been denied access to Yemen, by now the international media organizations have become more active in reporting daily tragedies of millions of Yemenis.

"It has become facts that are shown by international media outlets, newspapers and televisions on a daily basis, and that put pressure on the U.S. and Britain to take an action now to stop this conflict," al-Ammary said.

"I think it's the right moment to push for the Yemen peace, which represents all the best opportunity to date," he added.