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How will the Beijing-brokered Tehran-Riyadh detente impact Yemen's conflict?

Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, presides over the closing meeting of the talks between a Saudi delegation and an Iranian delegation in Beijing, capital of China, March 10, 2023. (Xinhua/Luo Xiaoguang)

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Yemen, 15 March (2023) - Iran and Saudi Arabia, after years of enmity, agreed last week to restore diplomatic ties after talks facilitated by China, a significant development widely welcomed worldwide.

Experts have said that the Beijing-brokered detente has raised hopes for a much-needed reduction in tensions in the Middle East, with a particular focus on the ongoing war in Yemen.

They told Xinhua that China's economic and diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran are highly significant, allowing Beijing to play a constructive role in de-escalating conflicts in war-torn Yemen and beyond.

Abdullah Dubalah, a Yemeni political observer, told Xinhua, "China's participation in facilitating the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia serves the region's stability, as it maintains good relations with both countries, thereby promoting a more peaceful and prosperous Gulf region."

He noted China plays a role in facilitating dialogue and cooperation in the region, which is entirely different from the divide-and-rule approach of the United States.

Adel Dashela, a Yemeni writer and academic researcher, said China had demonstrated its diplomatic prowess by successfully resolving international disputes through political dialogue.

He said the two sides must adhere to the agreed-upon terms to overcome obstacles, reduce regional tensions and benefit all parties involved.

The expert pointed out that Iran and Saudi Arabia also play a significant role in resolving Yemen's civil conflicts, adding that the two regional powers should put the interests of Yemen on par with the regional security issues because Yemen has become a hotbed for regional conflicts and unrest.

Still, some Yemeni observers told Xinhua that the recent Saudi-Iran deal alone cannot resolve Yemen's plight, calling for more efforts to end the crisis.

"Although the China-brokered agreement can create a positive momentum in Yemen, it does not fix all problems in the war-torn country," said Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen, a Yemeni political researcher.

She said "the underlying issues that have fueled the conflict in Yemen, such as political divisions, economic instability, and regional power struggles, are complex and difficult to resolve."

Al-Deen said she believes that a comprehensive political solution for Yemen issues requires the involvement of key regional players, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, and sustained international efforts.

Adil Al-Shuja'a, a politics professor from Sanaa university, said "the crisis in the region has been ongoing for decades, and the agreement is a step towards a potential resolution. "

The expert's view was echoed by Yasin Al-Tamimi, a political analyst and writer, who said "the agreement, which marks a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries, is expected to have an impact on the conflict in Yemen and could give Riyadh the impetus it needs to end Yemen's war."

Al-Tamimi said "to achieve this goal, it is believed that a negotiated settlement will be necessary. Such an agreement would enable Saudi Arabia to maintain its influence over the political landscape of Yemen while at the same time providing a pathway towards peace and stability in the region."

The civil war erupted in Yemen in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of some northern cities and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital Sanaa.

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, displaced 4 million people, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

In a statement released by the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Yemeni government welcomed the recent agreement as a potential opportunity to improve relations and serve the region's stability.

Meanwhile, Houthi group spokesperson Mohammad Abdul-Salam wrote on Twitter that the group's leaders welcome the resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, believing it would promote stability in the region.

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