Saudi, UAE Princes Ignore US Demand for Yemen Peace Talks in 30 Days

On Oct. 30, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said: “Thirty days from now we want to see everybody around the Yemen peace table, based on a ceasefire, based on a pullback from the border and then based on ceasing dropping of bombs, that will permit US special envoy Martin Griffiths to get them together in Sweden and end this war.”

Mattis echoed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s call on “all participants in the Yemen civil to agree to a ceasefire in the next 30 days.”

Pompeo clearly addressed both camps fighting in the Yemen war when he said: “The time is now for a cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Subsequently, air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.”

A week has gone by without any sign of the slightest slowdown in hostilities, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources report. Saudi-led coalition warplanes have conducted three strikes – in the capital, Sanaa, in the northern mountains and in the key Red Sea port of Hudaydah, the gateway for supplies of essentials to the starving population.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s insurgent Ansarullah movement, warned in a televised speech from the capital on Wednesday, Nov. 7, that the coalition was preparing to intensify its attacks. He blamed the United States for “planning, monitoring and supporting” the “aggressors’ crimes” in Yemen.

The two American officials’ call came at a particularly inopportune moment in view of two unforeseen events:

  1. Yemeni President Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, whose return to power is the goal fought for by the Saudis and Emiratis, was admitted to Cleveland Hospital on Oct. 2, for a second visit two weeks after he was discharged from his first. Although his power waned almost to zero during the long insurgency, his disappearance would leave a dangerous vacuum into which Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar would step. This would be deemed a disaster in Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, not to mention Egypt.

Al-Ahmar, a military commander during the long presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh – whom the Houthis assassinated – is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. He is loathed in the south for his conduct as military commander. Placing him in the presidency would divide Yemen even more than it is today. It would disrupt the coalition and move the prospect of peace talks out of sight.

  1. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) turned a deaf ear to Washington’s call, because he deeply resents the way the Americans treated him as culpable in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. His ally, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) is using the Yemen war as a chance to grab UAE influence in southern Yemen. As far as he’s concerned, the longer the war lasts in the north, the better.
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