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No Peace in Yemen without Houthi Disarmament

Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, July 21

Let this be clear: there can be no political solution in Yemen that allows the Houthis to keep their weapons. Anyone who reads history and knows anything about Middle East politics will understand this. The first thing that comes to mind is the Taif Agreement of 1989, which put an end to the Lebanese Civil War. Rafik al-Hariri, who was the architect of the agreement, capitulated to Syrian pressure while penning the agreement, allowing Hezbollah to maintain its weapons in Lebanon. These weapons eventually enabled the movement to destroy Lebanon, and paved its path to the center of Lebanese politics. Today, Hezbollah is the most dominant party in Lebanon. It exerts direct power over the president, the speaker of the parliament, and the prime minister. And it takes direct orders from Iran. Now imagine the same situation happening with the Houthis in Yemen. How can we ever allow this to happen? Indeed, this is the exact path that Tehran is interesting in paving for the Houthis. It seeks to promote a ceasefire agreement that would empower the Houthis and allow them to take over Yemen through the use of force and intimidation. This is a scenario that neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE can allow. Both nations would be much better off continuing their fighting than accepting a new reality in which Iran—via its Houthi militias—is establishing a presence in their backyards. Finally, the demand to disarm the Houthi militias is more plausible today than ever before. Qatar—perhaps the Houthis’ largest supporter in the Gulf—is facing severe financial setbacks due to the embargo imposed on it by its neighbors. Similarly, Iran is facing both internal and external political upheaval. And the Houthis, too, have been dealt a striking blow in several of their recent battles, including in their stronghold of Al-Hudaydah. Therefore, now is the time to maintain the pressure and tighten the noose around their neck. They must be clearly told: Disarm now, or continue fighting and face a crushing defeat. –Mohammad al-Sheikh

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