StudiesThe Riyadh Agreement: Measures required to build confidence

6 February، 2022by Gamal Hasan0

This paper deals with the current status of the Riyadh Agreement and identifies the deficiencies in the current political structure, the incentives for the conflict, and what the Yemeni government can do to save the Riyadh Agreement from its cycle of failure.

 

Jamal Hasan

Executive Summary

The failure to implement the Riyadh Agreement[1] will lead to more instability and the deterioration of economic conditions in Yemen. Yet these are marginal calculations to the two parties to the agreement, who instead have instead prioritized establishing or expanding their control.

The Riyadh Agreement faces intersecting interests, and the conflict between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) has led to political and economic deterioration and put the two parties in a critical position; the STC faced protests due to deteriorating living conditions inside the city of Aden last September.[2] The consequences of the failure of the agreement are not limited to the governance of Yemen alone; they also face the Arab Coalition that supports the internationally-recognized government in Yemen, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Solving this requires playing a positive role to pressure the parties to the conflict to implement the agreement.

This paper deals with the current status of the Riyadh Agreement and identifies the deficiencies in the current political structure, the incentives for the conflict, and what the Yemeni government can do to save the Riyadh Agreement from its cycle of failure.

Introduction

More than two years have passed since the signing of the Riyadh Agreement on November 5, 2019, but most of its provisions have not yet been implemented. During this period, Yemen has experienced a rapid political and economic decline. The result is that the agreement is frozen and is close to reaching a stage of complete collapse. Nearly 13 months have gone by in a dispute over which should be implemented first: the political or military part of the agreement. This ended with the formation of a government with the participation of the STC. After the agreement was signed, the government returned to the temporary capital, Aden, then was expelled, and then returned again.

On the military front, the government’s losses continued across five governorates. They began with the fall of Fardat Nehm, in early 2020, then the fall of the Al-Juba district of Marib in October 2021 to the Houthis. There is no doubt that the tension in the south distracted the government from concentrating on the fronts against the Houthi group. While the Houthis were massing their fighters toward Marib, the internationally-recognized government was massing fighters to the south to confront the STC. This conflict strengthened the Houthis in the north and led to the deterioration of the economy in government-controlled areas.

On December 25, 2019, the Houthi group banned dealing with the version of the national currency; the new and old versions of the currency were separated and the riyal witnessed a rapid fall in government-controlled areas, threatening the catastrophe of complete economic collapse.

This paper discusses some of the advantages of the Riyadh Agreement in dealing with these crises and stresses that its implementation will be in the interest of the internationally-recognized government. The paper addresses the role that the government can play to reduce tension between it and the STC. In particular, it should seek to reduce tensions between the STC and al-Islah (as well as its tribal and military allies). Their mutual hostility has meant it is now urgent to take positive steps to try to bridge the gap with the STC.

Historical background

It has been the norm throughout Yemeni history that signatories to agreements instead prepare for war. In 1994, North and South Yemen signed the “Document of Covenant and Agreement,” but civil war broke out in the summer. Before that, in January 1986, Kalashnikovs ended a meeting of the Socialist Party members in Aden before it began, and led to a southern conflict that is considered one of the bloodiest chapters in the history of Yemen. One party newspaper described it as the war of the left tribes in Yemen.[3] These two conflicts are the ones on which the current conflict between the Yemeni government and the STC stands.

The Riyadh Agreement is no exception to the rule – after a series of violations, each party blames the other for the rise in tensions.[4] So far, only one part of the agreement has been implemented, but its foundations are still in place, according to Prime Minister Maeen Abdul-Malik.[5] Success in implementing the agreement would be an exception to the rule of failure of previous agreements and inspire lasting peace.[6]

While the government has been preoccupied with the conflict with the STC in the south, its control has diminished in the north, where it is now facing a threat from the Houthis in Marib – its main stronghold is in the north. Despite the Houthis’ growing power, the motives for revenge for 1994 still prevail. Since August 2015, a number of al-Islah party leaders and imams of mosques in Aden have been assassinated, which the STC is accused of being behind.[7]

In 2018, tensions escalated in Aden with direct confrontations between the two sides, but the STC stopped at the borders of the Maasheq Presidential Palace. In August 2019, the STC violated those borders, after the Yemeni government left for Riyadh. The government then sent a military build-up to the Al-Alam area on the outskirts of Aden, intending to regain control of the temporary capital. However, they were attacked by Emirati aircraft attacked it on August 18, killing and wounding dozens.[8] In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abu Dhabi claimed responsibility for the raids, describing them as “self-defense” and claiming that they “targeted terrorist groups, who were aiming to attack the coalition forces in Aden.”[9] The Yemeni government considered this act “blatant hostility.”[10]

Saudi Arabia did not comment on the Emirati attack and took an equal distance with all parties. Its position seemed to be to prevent the conflict from escalating militarily. From this, the Riyadh Agreement was born with the aim of putting an end to the conflict in the south. The antagonistic relationship between al-Islah and the STC requires some form of reconciliation in order for the Riyadh Agreement to progress, which at minimum could be achieved by al-Islah avoiding conflicting with the objectives of the internationally-recognized government.

Failure Factors

The Riyadh Agreement contained many defects, including its inaccurate language, which resulted in loose clauses subject to more than one interpretation.[11] There is also a gap between the contents of the agreement and its implementation in reality, especially in terms of military and security. The agreement imposed the STC as the sole representative of southern Yemen,[12] which led to the exclusion of those allied with President Hadi and other forces calling for the secession of the South, led by Hassan Baoum.

Other issues relate to the composition of the conflict, which cannot be described only as a conflict between the North and the South.[13] There is a conflict between the southerners themselves that dates back to the events of January 1986. At that time, the tribes of Al-Dhalea, Yafa, and Radfan won, represented in the current conflict by the STC while the tribes of Abyan and Shabwa were defeated. These tribes, currently represented by President Hadi and his southern allies, allied themselves with the North in the 1994 War. Currently, these northern forces are represented by Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and al-Islah.[14] The STC employs its own rhetoric on the 1994 War, ignoring the existence of southern divisions.

It is somewhat ironic that the party that fought the separatists politically and militarily in 1994, led by former President Saleh, is today an ally of the STC, which calls for secession. The nephew of President Saleh, Tariq Saleh, is the commander of the Republican Guard and enjoys direct support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia’s main partner in the coalition. This reminds us of Karl Marx’s quote about history repeating itself, once as tragedy, and the other time as comedy.[15] There is a risk that the Riyadh Agreement will meet the same fate as the “Covenant and Agreement Document”, as mentioned earlier.

The Riyadh Agreement includes solutions that have proven to be unsuccessful in Lebanon and Iraq,[16] such as the clause stipulating the division of the government in a North-South quota. This causes different regional sensitivities to forces that are underrepresented or not represented in the government.

“Legitimacy”[17] as a cloudy moral sign

The weakness of the government is one of the most common factors in the failure of the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement. The government has a moral strength shaped by abnormal circumstances in a situation that attracts divisions and contradictions, with its tense background and conflicting ambitions. This has resulted in a heterogeneous composition in the Yemeni government; a system of bodies that do not work as a single bloc- In contrast, local authorities have consolidated their influence as semi-independent entities. Nevertheless, the idea of a “legitimate” government was formed by the assumption that it is not replaceable.[18]

The weakness of the government tempted some forces to expand their influence, including components from within the government itself, not least of all al-Islah. From the outset, al-Islah Party took the initiative to consolidate its influence outside the framework of the agreement. In Al-Jawf Governorate, disputes between its former governor, Hussein al-Aji al-Awadi, and tribal and military leaders belonging to al-Islah led to a crowd of protesters surrounding the governorate headquarters and accusing him of corruption. The matter ended with the appointment of another governor, Sheikh Amin al-Akimi, one of the leaders of al-Islah.[19] Al-Akimi was involved in illegally imposing customs duties on goods in his governorate. After Al-Jawf fell to the Houthis, he transferred his point for collecting these fees to the neighboring governorate of Marib, until it was stopped by an official decision.[20]

Al-Islah worked early to consolidate its influence in the areas liberated from Houthi control. In the city of Taiz, it fought armed confrontations against the “Abu al-Abbas Brigades,”[21] and was also involved in confrontations in the countryside of Taiz to appoint Brigadier General Abdul Rahman al-Shamsani as commander of the 35th Armored Brigade[22] after the killing of the former commander, Brigadier General Adnan al-Hammadi.

Most of Al-Hammadi’s supporters believe that his killing was a political assassination,[23] behind which was al-Islah, which sought to control this brigade by appointing its own commander. This is also perhaps a justification used by the STC during its confrontation with government forces, either because it considers these forces to be affiliated with al-Islah, or because it took advantage of the vacuum created by the conflicts within the government.

Conflict of interests

Al-Islah found itself embroiled in media campaigns carried out by its activists against the role of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen. This prompted the party to announce the freezing of Tawakkol Karman’s membership, in February 2018, due to her criticism of the coalition.[24] On the other hand, the confrontations with the STC came loaded with convulsive rhetoric, as if it was a party to a regional crisis, specifically against the backdrop of the Gulf crisis and the boycott of Qatar. Some of these campaigns did not hide their demand for the government to call for Turkish military intervention in Yemen, similar to the Turkish intervention in Libya, while accusing the Arab Coalition of deviating from the goals of its intervention.[25]

These attitudes not only harmed the relationship between al-Islah and Saudi Arabia but also harmed the Yemeni government, of which al-Islah is a major part. Consequently, this resulted in doubts about the support for the forces affiliated with it, which may have negative repercussions on the course of the battle against the Houthis.

During the Arab Spring revolutions,[26] Saudi Arabia’s relationship with al-Islah cooled. However, their relationship was marked by a kind of virtual diplomacy. Muhammad al-Yadoumi, the head of al-Islah, sought to deny his party’s connection to the Muslim Brotherhood[27] to try to mend its relationship with Abu Dhabi, which classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

Riyadh’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood has seen ups and downs since the reign of King Abdulaziz al-Saud. Despite the support of the founder of the Kingdom for the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, the king strongly supported Imam Ahmed Hamid al-Din against the revolutionaries of the 1948 movement in Yemen. The imam said, in a letter addressed to the Saudi king, that this movement belongs to “those who call themselves al-Ahrar (Free Men) and the Muslim Brotherhood.”[28]

Al-Islah came to the fore without taking into account the consequences, building influence outside the control of the government that led to the division and weakness of the government. Certainly, this policy was not limited to al-Islah party alone but is a prevailing political culture in which the parties seek a monopoly on influence and power. The opposite policy will lead to positive results, however. Strengthening partnerships will create the grounds for improving the political environment. In other words, al-Islah and the others should adopt a positive role to reform the government system and contribute to making the Riyadh Agreement a success.

The Assumed Positive Role

The language of the Yemeni parties is one of the reasons for the continuing conflict between them. To alleviate this conflict, the government and its aligned parties should stop matching the STC in using emotional rhetoric, media campaigns, and political interpretations.

One of the government’s tasks is to emphasize the unity of Yemen and work toward this goal without criminalizing the separatists and their demands, as the previous regime did. This is based on several considerations:

  1. The calls for secession represent an existing and effective southern segment, and its popular base cannot be denied or neglected. One of the shortcomings of the previous regime is that it suppressed it in a way that aggravated it.
  2. It is not possible to find a comprehensive Yemeni solution without addressing the southern issue, as it is a central problem. Yemeni unity was established peacefully but ended in a war between South and North, leading to a victorious party and a defeated one. This explains the increase in the voices calling for secession.
  3. Recognizing the existence of a separatist faction in the south will thus contribute to recognizing the existence of factions that support unity. This will enhance the ability to find a peaceful political framework that can be built upon in the future, within borders that are compatible with international and humanitarian concepts.
  4. The conflict in Aden took on a regional context. Therefore, President Hadi must get the presidency out of the narrow circle that surrounds him. In other words, Hadi must prove that he is the president of all Yemenis, including the STC and its local allies.
Reforming the government System

We came to the following conclusion: when a political party seeks to expand its influence, at the expense of the government, it ends up losing that influence. Prime Minister Mueen Abdul-Malik did not deny the media conflict between the political parties within his government, and that this conflict is dividing it.[29] The participation of the STC in the government increased the divisions within it in a way that contradicts the agreement. This makes it difficult for the government to perform its duties to the fullest. What these parties are missing is that government institutions are owned by the community, and no political party has the right to dispose of them according to their whims or wishes. This is the basis of democracy, but authorities in Yemen build their legitimacy on armed conflict and tools of oppression.

  • Supporting the bureaucratic structure

President Hadi’s appointments have produced an army of administrative officials who have no administrative duties or are incompetent. These burden the government with huge expenditures, at a time when it needs austerity. This anarchy also exists in the military. The Minister of Defense, Muhammad Ali al-Maqdashi, previously stated that there are a large number of fictitious names in the army.[30] Such government appointments have fueled divisions by awarding positions on a political basis, not on merit.

Following the signing of the Riyadh Agreement, some presidential appointments provoked the indignation of other political components. President Hadi’s Decision No. 4 of 2021, which stipulated the appointment of Ahmed al-Mousay as Public Prosecutor and Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr as Speaker of the Shura Council, was the most problematic. Appointing a security official (al-Mousay) to the position of attorney general violates the law as he came from outside the judiciary, in addition to being close to the Vice President, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar.[31]

The STC condemned those appointments through a statement by its official spokesperson, who said that it violates the Riyadh Agreement and impedes its implementation. He pointed out that the agreement provides for consultation with all political parties before issuing any decision regarding appointments.[32] This discontent extended to other parties that condemned these decisions, such as the Yemeni Socialist Party and the Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization Party.[33]

The STC also condemned the appointment of a new board of directors for the Central Bank in Aden. Nevertheless, this appointment bore fruit directly in the improvement of the value of the national currency in government-controlled areas.[34] This positive result prompted the government to carry out economic reforms, and also silenced the STC. This shows that any success of the government will reduce the emotional discourse that causes conflicts.

  • Carry out serious and rapid economic reforms

As well as changing the board of directors of the Central Bank, other reforms are stipulated in the Riyadh Agreement, such as appointing leadership to the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Central Organization for Control and Accountability. The agreement also stressed that the Central Bank would be a container for all government resources and expenditures, provided that spending would be carried out following the general budget and with financial transparency.

The spread of corruption and the slowness in issuing decisions are among the shortcomings of the government. Getting rid of corruption, or reducing it, will be a factor of success, Because economic decline is one of the most important factors of conflicts and wars. A government official told the researcher – on condition of anonymity – that the government is still unable to control local revenues, most of which are seized by local authorities. Nevertheless, most of these authorities deposit all revenues to government accounts in the branches of the Central Bank within the governorates.

Major Obstacle

The agreement, as the government official emphasized to the researcher, aims at comprehensive reforms in the administrative, security, and military system. He stressed that what has been implemented is limited to the administrative aspect, such as the formation of the government and the appointment of a governor and director of security for Aden Governorate.

The government official did not deny that there are parties within the “legitimate” authority that do not want to implement the agreement and have put obstacles in its way. Nevertheless, according to him, “the party obstructing the agreement is the STC, by refusing to implement the military and security aspect”, that is, unifying the security and military formations within the ministries of interior and defense.

The government official indicated that the goal of the agreement is to unify the anti-Houthi military formations under the leadership of the government so that no party can operate outside the government’s authority. He said that some parties see that their legitimacy is based on military control. The presence of a party within the “legitimate” authority that does not wish to implement the agreement proves its orientation based on military control. In this, the tools of obstruction differ in the interest of the STC, while there is one party that is more affected by Saudi political pressures, the “legitimate” government.

The storming of the Ma’ashiq Palace by armed men forced the government to leave Aden again,[35] as Saudi forces intervened to evacuate members of the government who were in the palace. Government officials accused the STC of supporting the gunmen who stormed the government headquarters,[36] as STC forces did not move to prevent the protesters from reaching Maasheq. Nevertheless, these forces intervened later to suppress peaceful protesters denouncing the deteriorating living conditions in Aden.[37] Thus, the STC found itself in a clash with its southern popular base.

Common factors supporting the implementation of the agreement

The expulsion of the government from Aden further deteriorated economic conditions and showed that the STC is incapable of managing the economic situation in its areas of control. In this context, al-Islah and its allies can adopt a policy that promotes the transfer of the conflict from the cycle of violence to the sphere of politics. This is what the Riyadh Agreement provides today, as a draft agreement that can be built upon. There is a common political element between the various parties whose differences have led them to the path of military force. There are also common aspects that make the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement in the interest of both parties:

  • The agreement grants the STC political recognition that entitles it to participate within the government delegation in any negotiations sponsored by the international community with the Houthi group.[38] At the moment, the agreement represents the best solution for the government as it needs stability in a political and administrative center,[39] in addition to its need to unite all forces to confront the Houthis. Also, the government and other parties may lose Saudi Arabia’s support if they do not support the Riyadh Agreement.
  • It is not in the STC’s interest to take any unilateral step to declare separation. If it did, it would not have international or regional support,[40] except for the UAE. Therefore, it is better for it to adopt a long-term policy to achieve this goal.
  • The government needs to devote itself to its tasks and focus on its main battle with the Houthis. It is also time for the STC to turn into a political component, rather than a military movement.
  • The success of the government in performing its duties from the temporary capital of Aden will help the STC in managing the local authority there, and vice versa; the success of the STC in managing the local authority is a success for the government.
  • This is a political legitimacy that can be built upon for the benefit of society. Efficiency can promote stability and crisis management, rather than the legality of arms or force.
  • The most important point is that implementing the agreement in practice will be in the interest of Yemeni citizens, especially in government-controlled areas, and will be a stabilizing factor. Therefore, the political parties should make concessions toward this goal.
Common Risks

In answering a number of questions that the researcher asked him, activist and writer Nashwan Al-Othmani stressed the importance of focusing on the points that unite the two parties to make the Riyadh Agreement a success. He added that it is possible to postpone the implementation of some points of disagreement and to agree on points that can be implemented regarding the security aspect. Al-Othmani stressed the importance of the STC showing more flexibility and making some concessions, “without abandoning its cause.” This would reinforce the demand for guarantees for what he considered a return line.

It is possible to create guarantees based on the right to political practice, to ensure that violence is not used by any party. There are nevertheless risks for both sides. It seems that the parties to the agreement do not give it a necessary priority. Thus, the Houthis seek to strengthen the divisions by encouraging the fanatic position of the STC, which is evident in the similar discourse expressed by both the Houthis and the STC and describes the government forces as being part of the forces of al-Islah and al-Qaeda.[41]

After the Houthi gains in Al-Bayda Governorate, leaders in the STC called on the government forces in Abyan to step aside for their forces to pass, not to defend Marib, but to defend the South. While some government officials accused the STC of colluding with the Houthis in the battles of al-Bayda,[42] leaders of the STC, as well as its activists, did not hide that the fall of Marib would pave the way to determining the fate of the South.[43]

This confirms that both sides do not understand the risks that threaten them. If the Houthis were able to take control of Marib – the main stronghold of the government in northern Yemen – that would mean their victory in Yemen as a whole.[44] That is why the battle of Marib should be a top priority for the government, the STC, and the coalition – the fall of Marib will not serve the STC, as some of its activists might think, but only the Houthis.

Based on the foregoing, there are three main files to prevent the collapse of the Riyadh Agreement: economic reforms, unification of the government system, and the battle of Marib. Meanwhile, some parties in the “legitimate” authority should stop practicing the policy of the Ali Saleh regime in dealing with the southern issue. This will help strengthen trust, not only with the STC, but also with the local communities in the south, of which the STC considers itself their sole representative.

Other incentives

It is not possible to achieve progress in implementing the Riyadh Agreement by relying on the initiative of one party without positive interaction by the other party. Nevertheless, the other parties in the government have to take the initiative. This requires the United Nations to put pressure equally on the two parties to the agreement, as suggested by researcher Ali Abdullah in an interview with the author of this study.[45]

In practice, Saudi Arabia has limited influence on the Yemeni parties, although its pressure succeeded in pushing these parties to sign the agreement. Currently, its effect is almost negligible,[46] aside from the part that has been implemented, that is, the formation of the government.

The role of international organizations – such as the United Nations and the European Union – was limited to soft support for the agreement. The same applies to the major powers.[47] If the international community and international powers had a direct role, this would reflect positively on the implementation of the agreement. Although there are similar experiences of conflicts in Yemen, international interventions have not yielded results in achieving peace efforts.

In light of the obstacles exercised by the two parties to the conflict, we doubt that sanctions against the obstructionists will lead to deterrent results. The solution is primarily in the hands of the Yemenis. So that despair does not lead to the continuation of violence, it is necessary to rely on a principle that grants all parties the right to political participation, rather than a policy of rooting out opponents by force. It is in the interest of both parties to work on producing political projects capable of reducing the military conflict that depend on the solidarity of society. As for wars, they produce abnormal conditions that tempt armed parties to shirk social responsibilities in their areas of control.

The STC has continued to blame the government for the deteriorating situation, even though it was it that prevented the government from carrying out its duties in the temporary capital, Aden.[48] This duplicity remained a common pattern practiced by the parties. For example, when the government fails, each side seeks – through its media platforms and its grassroots – to shift responsibility to the government. Consequently, each faction shirks its responsibilities, whether it is a conflict or a conciliation, whether it is war or peace.

Conclusion

The Riyadh Agreement is a draft that aims to resolve the conflict between the STC and the government and to achieve stability in government-controlled areas on the one hand, and on the other hand to strengthen the two parties to confront the Houthi group. To achieve this, it is necessary to support the political parties that participate in the government. Without this, the agreement will fail and more Yemenis will fall victim to starvation and suffering. This will mean a moral failure for both Yemeni and regional political parties.

The past period has proven that the vacuum resulting from the absence of a government – no matter how weak it is – will only result in further deterioration at various levels: political, economic, social and military. These visible signs hide behind them others that are more dangerous, on the security and military fronts.

Although the city of Marib is on the verge of falling into the hands of the Houthi group, the political parties supporting the “legitimate” government have continued to deal with nihilism. These parties are betting on military and political variables that they use for interests that narrow in accordance with their aspirations for military control.

This failure may extend its shadows beyond Yemen. Beginning with the role of the coalition, which has been successful neither in war nor in peace. Consequently, there are questions about the interests of foreign players, and where these intersect with the interests of the Yemenis, both North and South.

Giving up on the agreement means handing over the initiative to those who have the ability to expand militarily. The consequences of this are unstoppable in Marib or the coast. If the agreement fails, the fragmentation will continue in a country with a history of repeated conflict. Regardless of the consequences of the failure of the agreement on the Yemenis now or in the future, the loss is shared by both parties to the agreement. There is a common threat on which the two parties’ interest in rapprochement can be based.

The bottom line: the “legitimate” authority may find itself in an existential predicament. Accordingly, the STC cannot bet that it will seize power in the south by force; the incentives for divisions around it will collude in the interests of a more cohesive party.

Recommendations
  • Enabling the government to carry out its role, and limiting the interference of forces that impede its work.
  • Carrying out extensive and serious economic and governmental reforms.
  • The two sides of the conflict should stop fueling regional conflicts, and President Hadi should avoid this regional conflict and be the president of all Yemenis.
  • Supporting the Central Bank to be a single monetary vessel, in order to stabilize the currency and improve the living situation. This requires all local authorities to transfer all the incomes to government accounts and to stop spending them as independent financial resources.
  • All parties must stop media campaigns and create a political climate that will help the success of the Riyadh Agreement.
  • Political parties should stop expanding their influence in some provinces at the expense of the government.
  • Creating incentives for both sides of the Riyadh Agreement, and imposing sanctions against any party that obstructs its implementation.
  • The regional powers that have political and military formations on the ground should play a positive role in facilitating the government’s tasks.
  • Supporting the government politically and economically by its regional and international allies to limit the deterioration of the national currency and to provide the minimum level of services to citizens.
  • The institution of the presidency should align itself with the national interest, away from bias in favor of other political parties.
  • The call for secession should not be criminalized, as long as it exercises its political right through peaceful means.
  • Unifying the political discourse of the parties regarding the main issues that are compatible with the Yemeni government’s peace endeavors.
  • Any political party can base its success on its role within government institutions, and not on building a position of influence outside them.
  • The political parties must neutralize government institutions from any conflict, and know the difference between political differences and the unification of tasks within the framework of the government. The work of institutions should take parallel paths, complementing each other, and not be dependent on the whims of political parties.
  • The president, the speaker of parliament, and the prime minister should work in one format to enhance the success of the Riyadh Agreement until the government regains control over the country.
  • Economic reforms would enhance the success of the Riyadh Agreement, or at least create a positive environment that helps bridge some of the gaps caused by the turbulent conditions in Yemen. This is conditional on the support of Yemeni political parties, as well as regional and international allies.
  • Any political or economic success of the Yemeni government will have a positive impact on any peace efforts, as it is the best way to contain the emotional rhetoric that fuels the conflict.

 

Notes and sources

[1] The Riyadh Agreement is an agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council, which was signed under Saudi auspices in Riyadh on November 5, 2019, against the backdrop of a military conflict in Aden and southern Yemen between government forces and the STC,  which resulted in the government’s expulsion from the interim capital.

[2] https://www.bbc.com/arabic/tv-and-radio-58602556.

[3] 6 The Independent, Jamal Schniter, “Aden recaps the hunt for the unknown killer after 35 years”, September 25, 20121, https://www.independentarabia.com/node/262276/%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1/%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%AB-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%87%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-35-%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%A9

[4] Tension between the Yemeni government and the STC, portends the outbreak of war. Anadolu Agency, 28/4/2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1/%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AA%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%B0%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A8/2223050

[5] An interview with Mueen Abdul-Malik on France 24: Yemenis will decide their fate, July 6, 2021, https://www.france24.com/ar/%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AC/%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B1/20210706-%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%85-%D9%83%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%87%D9%8A%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA

[6] Ahmed Aliba, “The Repercussions of Implementing the Riyadh Agreement on the Yemeni Crisis,” Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, December 26, 2020, https://acpss.ahram.org.eg/News/17018.aspx

[7] Sudarsan Raghavan who is killing Yemen’s clerics? Mystery murders are sending a chill through the mosques -Washington Pos/ -28/8/2018 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/who-is-killing-yemens-clerics-mystery-murders-are-sending-a-chill-through-the-mosques/2018/08/27/10b7da3c-ce0f-49e2-ad8e-d4adf05ef885_story.html

[8] UAE confirms launching raids on “terrorist groups in self-defense,” BBC, https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-49511592.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The Yemeni president calls on Saudi Arabia to intervene to stop the blatant attack from Emirates Airlines, https://arabic.sputniknews.com/20190829/%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%88%D9%82%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D8%AC%D9%88%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%86-1042753559.html

[11] Elena Duiger, Saudi Influence Is Not Enough to Bring Peace to Yemen, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2020. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/ar/policy-analysis/alnfwdh-alswdy-lys-kafyaan-lthqyq-alslam-fy-alymn

[12] Husam Radman, Addressing the Southern Question to Strengthen the Peace Process in Yemen, Sana’a Center for Studies, October 13, 2020, https://sanaacenter.org/ar/publications-all/analysis-ar/11719.

[13] Abdul Ghani Al-Eryani, The Dilemma of the Riyadh Agreement, Sana’a Center for Studies, July 13, 2020, https://sanaacenter.org/ar/publications-all/analysis-ar/10344.

[14] ibid.

[15] Karl Marx, Beginning of the Eighteenth Brumaire Book (Louis Bonaparte), The New Vanguard (Al-Taleea Al-jadeeda) Publishing house, 2016.

[16] Ahmed Aliba, “The Repercussions of Implementing the Riyadh Agreement on the Yemeni Crisis,” Al-Ahram Center for Political Studies, https://acpss.ahram.org.eg/News/17018.aspx

[17] Legitimacy is the common description of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

[18] Elena Duiger, The Aura of “Legitimacy” Surrounding Yemen’s President Complicates Replacing His Replacement, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 15, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/ar/policy-analysis/halt-alshryt-almhytt-balryys-alymny-tuqwd-mlyt-astbdalh.

[19] https://alraipress.com/news25471.html.

[20] https://www.sahafaa.net/show7234121.html.

[21] Hadi intervenes to stop the fighting between government forces and Abu al-Abbas. https://www.aa.com.tr/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3/1427071.

[22] Taiz.. Clashes and military tension in Al-Hajariya after Al-Shamsani was appointed commander of the 35th Armored Brigade, Al-Mawqea Post, https://almawqeapost.net/news/52097.

[23] Aden Al-Ghad, on the second anniversary of the assassination of Adnan Al-Hammadi… His son sends a message to the government, https://adengad.net/public/posts/583583.

[24] Yemen’s Islah Party suspends Tawakkol Karman’s membership after criticizing Saudi Arabia and the UAE, February 4, 2018, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-42936510.

[25] Ignorance calling for Turkish intervention in Yemen, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, June 19, 2019, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86.

[26] Farea Al-Muslimi, Riyadh and the Yemen Brothers: Back to Factory Reset, Carnegie Center August 7, 2015, https://carnegie-mec.org/2015/08/07/ar-pub-61012.

[27] Yemen: Al-Islah party denies its connection with the Muslim Brotherhood.. Al-Quds Al-Arabi, July 12, 2017, https://www.alquds.co.uk/%EF%BB%BF%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%80%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A9/.

[28] Judge Abdullah bin Abdul-Wahhab Al-Mujahid Al-Shamahi, Yemen, Man and Civilization, p. 250, Al-Madina Publications, Beirut – Lebanon, second edition, 1985.

[29] Yemeni Prime Minister Mueen Abdul-Malik’s interview with the Egyptian Tin Channel on October 15, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T21mSR5lBo2502-

[30] Defense Minister in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, on March 26, 2019, https://aawsat.com/home/article/1647866/%D9%88%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%84%D9%80%C2%AB%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7%C2%BB-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%87%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8-%C2%AB%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%C2%BB.

[31] The main dispute and the potential fighting fronts between the two parties of “Riyadh Agreement” August 28, 2021, https://arabiafelixstudies.com/%d8%ac%d9%88%d9%87%d8%b1-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ae%d9%84%d8%a7%d9%81-%d8%a8%d9%8a%d9%86-%d8%b7%d8%b1%d9%81%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d8%aa%d9%81%d8%a7%d9%82-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b1%d9%8a%d8%a7%d8%b6-%d9%88%d8%ac%d8%a8%d9%87/.

[32] The Independent Arabic, The Transitional Council rejects the appointments of the Yemeni president to senior positions, January 16, 2021, https://www.independentarabia.com/node/185361/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B5%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A7.

[33] Anadolu Agency, two components reject official appointments issued by Hadi, January 17, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D9%85%D9%83%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A/2112682.

[34] The New Arab, the Yemeni riyal receives a moral boost after changing the management of the Central Bank, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/economy/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%82%D9%89-%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%BA%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A5%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%B2%D9%8A.

[35] Reuters, Protesters storm Ma’ashiq Palace in Aden, March 16, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/yemen-security-protests-ea4-idARAKBN2B819G.

[36] Anadolu Agency, Yemeni official: The storming of the presidential palace was caused by “incitement by the STC,” March 16, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A4%D9%88%D9%84-%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%B5%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A6%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A8%D9%80%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B6-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A/2177613

 

[37] The South Today, Transitional Forces suppress protests in Crater and Sheikh Othman, September 17, 2021, http://www.aljanoobalyoum.net/49277/.

[38] Elena Doiger, Reviving the Riyadh Agreement: Political Gains Still Constrained by Implementation Concerns, The Washington Institute for Near East Studies, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/ar/policy-analysis/aadt-ahya-atfaq-alryad-almkasb-alsyasyt-la-tzal-mqywdt-bmkhawf-altnfydh.

[39] Editorial, Sana’a Center for Studies, Riyadh Agreement Stalled Is Yemen Close to Partition, November 8, 2020, https://sanaacenter.org/ar/publications-all/the-yemen-review-ar/11877

[40] Elena Duiger, Reviving the Riyadh Agreement: Political Gains Still Constrained by Implementation Fears, previous source (36).

[41] International Crisis Group, After Al-Bayda, the beginning of the end game in northern Yemen, “Crisis Group”, published on October 14, 2021, https://www.crisisgroup.org/ar/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/yemen/b84-after-al-bayda-beginning-endgame-northern-yemen

[42] ibid.

[43] Abdulaziz Kilani, Diplomacy Intensifies in Yemen, But Tensions Still Rise, The Gulf States Institute in Washington, March 4, 2021, https://agsiw.org/ar/yemen-diplomacy-intensifies-yet-tensions-still-escalate-arabic/

[44] David Schenker, “Biden Needs a Plan B if the Houthis Win in Yemen,” Published on November 4, 2021, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Foreign Policy https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/ar/policy-analysis/baydn-bhajt-aly-khtt-bdylt-llymn-adha-antsr-alhwthywn

[45] Ali Abdullah, a Yemeni researcher specializing in international relations, works for the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights.

[46] Elena Duiger, Saudi Influence Not Enough to Bring Peace in Yemen, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2020, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/ar/policy-analysis/alnfwdh-alswdy-lys-kafyaan-lthqyq-alslam-fy-alymn.

[47] ibid.

[48] Al-Omana.net, The Transitional Council holds the government of Maeen Abdul-Malik as the deteriorating situation in Aden, September 14, 2019, https://al-omana.net/m/details.php?id=157296

This paper is part of the “Riyadh Agreement Project,” implemented by the Arabia Felix Center for Studies (AFC), with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). The aim is to understand the factors that prevent the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and provide realistic recommendations to the concerned parties. This project will include studies and other policy papers that will be published successively.

by Gamal Hasan

Gamal Hasan is a writer, a researcher and a journalist. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Faculty of Mass Communication, Sana'a University. He has been working in the press since 1998. He was the editor of the Yemeni weekly "Al-Osboa" newspaper in 2003 and the editor-in-chief of the same newspaper from 2004 to 2010. His novel "Insects of the Memory" was published in 2014 by the Lebanese Dar Defaf.

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