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Yemen & The Stockholm Agreement

Al-Wasat, Bahrain, December 17

The negotiations held between representatives of the Saudi-backed Hadi regime and the Houthi rebels last week in Stockholm are the only way forward for Yemen. The risks associated with losing this limited opportunity to achieve a ceasefire are far too grave. Without the Stockholm talks, the appalling loss of human lives will continue to take place in Yemen. There is a very limited window of opportunity and we must take a hold of it before it’s too late. What the Yemeni people want, regardless of political affiliation, is to survive. There is a terrible lack of food in the country. Children have been out of school for months, if not years. The people of Yemen need to understand that they all want the same basic necessities, even if they disagree with each other politically. The lessons we learned from Somalia are still very fresh in our minds. The most dangerous thing that can happen to a country is that the world is accustomed to seeing it torn and drenched in its blood, unable to save itself and resisting on the will of others to save it. Somalia has been forgotten and abandoned. History teaches us that it is difficult to force people to establish peace if they do not seek to forge it themselves. Coming back from war is much harder than going into it. War creates deep hatred, bitterness and resentment. Conflict breeds further conflict, creating a never-ending spiral of violence. For all these reasons, the Stockholm Agreement is so terribly important. It is an opportunity for the people of Yemen to make decisions for themselves, without being given dictates from world powers. It is a chance for the various factions to separate themselves from the fighting and think about the future they want to establish for themselves and their people. Furthermore, there is currently a will on behalf of world powers to support the Yemeni people and their efforts to reach peace. The efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, have clearly demonstrated this will. Negotiations will not be easy. Not only because the devil is in the details, but also because Yemen’s structure is difficult almost as its terrain, and because war has added new fears to old ones. The Stockholm station was an opportunity to get off the train taking Yemen towards complete destruction. The Houthis will be making a grave mistake if they deliberately jump off it. Now is the time to sit around the same table and talk. This may be the last chance the Yemeni people get to end the terrible war that has plagued their country for the past three years. –Ghassan Sherbil

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