Alwaght- While Yemen case was expected to witness a progress after Iran-Saudi Arabia rapprochement agreement, after three months, no change has happened to state of cold peace in the country. This stalemate especially showed itself with failure of the talks on prisoner swap in recent days.
It is important to take into consideration the result of the prisoner exchange negotiations which in recent years have become a benchmark for the prospects of peace and ceasefire between Sana’a and Riyadh.
Majid Fadael, the spokesman of the negotiating team of the resigned government of Yemen, said that the negotiations with Ansarullah in Jordan, which started on Friday, have not made progress so far.
On the other side, Abdul Qader al-Mortaza, head of the Prisoners' Affairs Committee of the Sana'a-based National Salvation Government (NSG) of Yemen announced that the negotiations regarding the prisoner swap ended without reaching any agreement. According to this Yemeni official, "a number of ideas and proposals to expand the prisoner swap deal between the two conflicting parties in Yemen were discussed, and another round of talks after Eid al-Adha was decided to be held.
In recent years, there have been several rounds of negotiations between Ansarullah and the Saudis for the exchange of prisoners, and despite the initial agreements, in many cases, their terms have not been implemented. According to data, more than 2,200 prisoners from the forces of both sides are still in prison, and the government of Sana'a has said that the release of the prisoners is the priority of the plans, but it seems that the Saudi-led aggression coalition does not want to settle the case.
Failure of prisoner swap talks can also negatively impact the Yemeni field developments and cause darker peace prospects.
Reasons no peace, no war state should end
The state of uncertainty shadowing Yemen war takes impacts from various variables. Since the end of the conflicts in Yemen depends on the Saudi side, in the first place, Riyadh's failure to show a real will to enter into serious peace negotiations should be considered as the most important influencing factor. Saudi Arabia started the cruel war against Yemen under the pretext of returning to power the resigned and fugitive government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, but in fact, the Saudis sought to prevent the Ansarullah movement from gaining power and building an independent and powerful Yemen. However, 9 years after invading Yemen and destroying its infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands of its people with spending billions of petrodollars, now Saudi Arabia, defeated in the war, has no powerful play cards to use on the negotiating table. Desperate about how to exit from self-made swamp of Yemen, it continues to use its only remaining pressure means, namely blockade and economic pressure.
On the other side, the Saudis want to make sure after the end of war that Yemen will not turn into the sphere of influence of the Axis of Resistance, since Ansarullah is now part of the Resistance camp and the Saudis do not tolerate its power gain on their southern borders and are seeking guarantees that this project will not materialize. In other words, the Saudis want Iran to guarantee that in the future, Ansarullah will not pose threats to Riyadh’s interests.
Another issue is that the rulers in Riyadh are aware of the growing power and legitimacy of Ansarullah among the Yemenis and are afraid that this movement can take over all governance structures. Therefore, they are looking for ways to continue intervention in Yemen's affairs after the end of the war, under such excuses as the formation of a comprehensive government and the amendment of Yemen constitution, to keep peace and unity away from Yemen.
On the other hand, one of the issues that has made the Saudis hesitate in the path of peace is the conditions that Ansarullah has set for the aggression coalition on the negotiation table. The Saudis claim that the war that is going on in Yemen is an intra-Yemeni conflict and that Yemeni groups are to decide the future of peace and war. But leaders of Sana'a believe that the opposite side is the minion of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and has no independent will and power of its own, and the final decision-maker is Saudi Arabia itself, which reins in the Aden-based administration.
Ansarullah has repeatedly argued that the main cause of the crisis in Yemen and the humanitarian disaster in this country is Saudi Arabia and the US, and Riyadh, as the aggressor, must pay compensation according to international laws for the reconstruction of of the country and for crimes against the Yemenis, but the rulers of Riyadh are trying to escape from the burden of financial obligations and paint the war as an intra-Yemeni issue and avoid paying compensations.
In addition to Saudi-Ansarullah differences, there are other obstacles to peace that are out of control of the two sides. Mahdi al-Mashat, the head of Yemen's Supreme Political Council in comments accused the US of putting the skids under efforts to solve the crisis. It is noteworthy that hundreds of American military forces and engineers have been stationed in the southern provinces of Yemen over the past two years and are engaged in plundering the country's underground resources, and the continued presence of the occupiers has dimmed the prospect of peace.
There are several possible scenarios that can happen on the ground in the current state of stalemate. First scenario is that Sana'a will take some punitive measures in some regions like Ma'arib, Taiz, and Bab-el-Mandeb that would temporarily escalate the tensions since a state of no peace, no war is not in interest of Yemen, and Ansarullah has repeatedly warned that it does not tolerate continuation of blockade and occupation. The leaders of Sana'a have previously warned that if the occupation continues, they are strong enough to take back the rights of the Yemeni people from the aggressors, and the drone attacks on Al-Dhaba oil terminal in Yemen's south to prevent the looting of the country's oil in November 2022 showed that the enemy must take the warnings seriously.
The second scenario is continuation of the status quo and decline of the two sides to move back from their conditions and demands. Having in mind that a hefty chunk of the Saudi strength has eroded over the past 9 years and Riyadh cannot engage in new clashes, continuation of the current situation allows the warring sides to rebuild their military power to reactivate battle fronts if they fail to reach a political deal. In this case, too, Ansarullah will have better conditions and can deal heavy blows to the Saudis. The Saudi mercenaries are also internally divided due to their differences with the forces under the command of the Emirates, and it can be a good advantage for Ansarullah to weaken the enemies and drive them out of the country.
The third scenario that is more likely than the other two is advancing serial talks in the next months, and to conclude them, they may downgrade the level of their demands and pave the way for a comprehensive deal. In other words, with step-by-step measures, the two sides agree to each other's demands, agree to extension of ceasefire in return for gradual lifting of blockade, and then pave the way for a final peace deal. If progress is made in talks, Saudi Arabia will stay safe to painful Ansarullah attacks and Yemeni people will move out of the current disastrous situation. Also, since regional countries want the war to end, peace is achievable if Saudis abandon some of their demands.