Date: 6th August 2023
Location: United Kingdom Parliament
Organized collaboratively by the Southern Independent Group and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on South Yemen, this policy discussion was designed to allow for a meaningful dialogue among experts, policymakers, and concerned individuals, to collectively address the urgent need for a resolution in Yemen.
For nearly a decade, Yemen has grappled with a complex and protracted conflict that has brought about untold suffering to its people.
The origins of this crisis date back to 2011, when popular protests led to the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A UN-backed transition followed, culminating in the ascent of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2012.
Despite these diplomatic maneuvers, the nation found itself thrust into turmoil as conflict erupted in 2014, resulting in the capture of the capital, Sana’a, by Houthi rebels.
The ensuing years witnessed a Saudi-led coalition intervention in support of the internationally recognized Hadi Government. As this conflict unfolded, it led to the displacement of countless individuals, a dire humanitarian crisis, and the erosion of basic human rights with the UN Development Programme reporting a staggering loss of life and the World Food Programme terming it the "world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
The purpose of the event was to deepen the understanding of the intricate factors that have contributed to Yemen's ongoing conflict, to explore international diplomatic efforts and their impact on peace initiatives, to
foster a collaborative environment for discussing innovative strategies and potential pathways toward achieving sustainable peace in Yemen.
The discussion began with welcoming and opening remarks by Shadi Alwan on behalf of SIG and John Speller MP on behalf of the APPG on Southern Yemen.
The main contributors to the discussion were:
Abu Bakr al-Qirbi
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen.
Dr Al-Qirbi gave a detailed presentation the key points of which were as follows:
- There new realities on the ground have to be recognized and must form the basis for peace
- The 3 initiatives (UNSC2216, The Gulf Initiative and the Yemeni National Dialogue) are not relevant anymore
- The coalition should leave Yemen and allow the Yemeni parties to conduct the peace negotiations themselves.
- The Republic must be re-instated before the Southern Question is addressed.
Amr Al Bidh
Member of the Presidential Committee
Foreign Affairs Representative to the President of the STC
In his presentation Mr Al Bidh raised the following points:
- Emphasized the need for a peace process that is comprehensive and which must allow for allow for a clear vision for how the Southern Question should be addressed
- Any negotiations between the Houthi militia and the Saudi should not afford the Houthis any leverage when it comes to the UN lead peace process
- The UN peace process should be meaningful and it can not be so if the balance of power shifts towards the Houthis through any deal likely to be agreed between the Houthis and the Saudis.
- The STC aims for sustainable peace and any marginalization of the Southern issue is a recipe for conflict.
Expert on Yemen
Former President of the British Yemeni Society
In his presentation Mr Brehony highlighted the following points:
- A peace deal remains subject to a process which is likely to be take a long time given the complexities
- There are realities and the Houthis appear to have significant control over the North and the STC has significant control over the South.
- Non of the anti-Houthi parties are in anyway included in on what is being discussed between the Houthis and the Saudis.
- The humanitarian situation remains challenging
A number of participants made pertinent contributions to the discussion.
- Promote further discussions between the Yemeni parties
- Explore the possibility of organizing a Yemen Conference for the Diaspora in the UK to explore peace
- SIG and APPG on South Yemen to continue to liaise on future initiatives