Calling for peace with Houthi-Saleh? That comes across as ignorant

Calling for peace with Houthi-Saleh? That comes across as ignorant

By Qays Naaman (Commentary)

The repeated calls of different international officials for peace between the government and the allied militias of the former dictator Ali Saleh and the Shiit cleric Abdul-Malik al-Houthi keep coming across as ignorant because they assume serious fallacies.

One fallacy is that the militias are a mainstream rebel group who are fighting for extra specific concessions that they want to obtain and then lay down arms and let the country pursue its course toward democratization and partnership. What an ignorant fallacy!

The Houthis is a violent religious group who use terrorist means toward achieving their final goal, their version of the Islamic Caliphate namely the Imamite where only the Houthi descendants of Fatimah the daughter of prophet Mohammed (PPH) sit in power. They of course deny this under the principle of Taqiya (dissimulation) which is an integral part of their system of Shiit beliefs!

To that end (the Imamite theocracy), they intend to fight for generations and dying in this cause is considered "a martyrdom" that leads to eternal life in reward. Politicians outside the region and surprisingly sometimes even fellow Arab politicians ignore this fact about them.

The group reiterates the vow to fight "to the Day of Judgment" without stopping in all their call to arms and hate speeches and anthems, on their main TV, Almasira, and other outlets.

Their official and general rhetoric has never considered peace, dialogue or national fraternity. They have attended peace talks, but obviously reluctant and under pressure of international parties, and always walked out of the negotiation room in the last moments before reaching the deal to avoid agreement and taking obligations. They are an extremist religious group by definition, and the UN and international officials keep inviting them to a world they don't relate to- the world of politics and peaceful disagreements.  

It is also mistaken and ridiculous to think that Saleh is keeping his ears open waiting to hear someone call for peace to go with him hand in hand.

Saleh is a power addict who ruled Yemen 33 years and conceded power, at least superficially, from 2012 to 2013; he was too impatient to wait so he made a quick, bloody and wildly vengeful comeback in 2014. Now he  perceives himself to be in power, although holding grip on only 20% of the country.

While any peace deal will essentially seek to pave the way for a democratic governance, Saleh's retaining of the slice of the country under his de facto rule for himself and Ahmed, after him, is now the minimum he has to hold on to. He will not relinquish it at any price. And his fantastic maximum, of course, is to defeat the Arab Coalition-backed government and take the whole cake, the entire Yemen. 

We all know what peace entails and therefore asking him to seriously engage in peace talks is only like asking for the moon.

Another fallacy that the callers for peace assume is a shortage of talks. In fact the government has had too many talks that Yemenis have perhaps lost count of them; direct talks, indirect talks, public talks, private talks — talks in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, in Oman, in Geneva, in Biel and for more than three months in Kuwait. We have had plenty of talks. The missing ingredient in all of them has been political will on the part of the Houthi-Saleh militias to share power and hand over heavy weapons and withdraw their sectarian militias from the capital and other major cities.

The conflict basically originated as a the result of their deliberate abandoning of the country's National Dialogue Conference (2013-2014) that would end their exclusive hold on power in favor of a democracy that would represent all Yemenis for the first time in their country's history.

The dictator Saleh and his traditional elite that ruled Yemen along with the Houthis exhibited a clear desire to impede the success of the transition and the then president Abd-Rabbu Hadi's steps to reform the military.

 

Saleh felt Yemen was beginning to slip out of his grip and proceed to a democracy.

He only reacted normally then as an entrenched dictator who can't feature for a moment losing the helmet of power despite the huge advantages that the GCC-brokered agreement allowed him to retain; the blanket immunity from prosecution and $60 billion amassed wealth in return for stepping down.  

Yes, he was given advantages over all the other stakeholders, in fact the real representatives of the Yemeni people who sat with him to debate Yemen's future in that national conversation (of 2013-2014) for the first time ever in Yemen's history.

He and his traditional elite were participating in the talks and at the same time maneuvering their vengeful forces outside the capital in the countdown to the pre-meditated strike; to topple the capital Sana'a and knock everybody out.

Now they have their goal fulfilled and must be determined not to allow any power on earth to broker another deal that takes it (power) again from them. 

They obviously have a very stubborn determination to counter any attempts to change the status quo by depending on their brutal force.

While all government officials offer holding negotiations in every speech and statement they make, the Houthi-Saleh alliance never make mention of the word "peace" and lack this rhetoric completely from their remarks. 

Their rhetoric is an extremist and one-track minded; only promoting "Jihad" and "fighting to the Day of Judgment". In fact, they say it, mean it and act it out; they have been fighting for three years and have never responded to any call to sit for peace except when they needed it as a delay tactic and then abandoned before inking the deal.

Hence, those who keep calling for peace with Houthi-Saleh assume, out of ignorance, that these militias ignited the conflict to achieve specific gains and then let the process of transformation go. Knowing not that these militias want to regain their pre-2011 dictatorship as it was.   

 

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