Yemeni Women Demand Seat at the Table as Peace Talks Begin in Stockholm

December 7th, 2018 - by admin

Aaya Al-Shamahi / Middle East Eye & Jason Ditz / – 2018-12-07 23:13:04

Yemeni Women Demand Seat
At the Table as Peace Talks Begin in Stockholm

Aaya Al-Shamahi / Middle East Eye

Yemeni women demand a seat at the peace talks as Sweden prepares both sides for negotiations (Reuters)

(December 6, 2018) — A coalition of Yemeni women are demanding a seat at the negotiating table as UN-sponsored peace talks to end Yemen’s war are scheduled to begin in Sweden.

Pictures released of delegates attending the talks showed only one woman present on the negotiating table from both sides of the civil war, which has been going on for nearly four years.

Kawkab Al-Thaibani, a Yemeni woman who works for the Women for Yemen network, told Middle East Eye that Yemen’s women had borne the brunt of the country’s war.

“Women in Yemen are paying the highest price of war. I believe that no lasting peace will happen . . . without women [being involved] in the peace negotiations,” Thaibani said this week. “They’re facing hunger, poverty, violence, displacement and being uprooted, among many other issues.

“Women are now leading the entire household, domestically and financially alone, often for the first time, in a country where its basic delivery system is collapsing.”

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign in Yemen to root out Houthi rebels, who had taken over the capital, Sanaa, and deposed president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, such as the deliberate bombing of hospitals, buses and other civilian infrastructure.

The Houthis have also been accused of taking hostages and arbitrarily detaining and torturing opponents, all potential war crimes.

Over the past three years, the war has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the UN has called the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, in what was already one of the world’s poorest countries.

Yet peace has remained elusive since the last attempt in September, when the Houthis did not attend negotiations in Geneva after their wounded were refused evacuation. But on Monday, the UN helped evacuate 50 injured Houthis out of Yemen. The next day, a Houthi delegation touched down in Sweden.

On Thursday, UN mediator Martin Griffiths told reporters in a renovated castle outside Stockholm that just getting the warring sides to the table was an important milestone.

Observers say previous peace talks have seen Yemeni women sidelined from the negotiating table.

Amal Ali, a Yemeni journalist, says that past talks “have had almost no presence of women”. She added: “Those who cross through the siege in Taiz carrying food and medicine on their heads are women, so they must have a place at the negotiating table.”

Thaibani said that despite the best efforts of those who want a seat at the table, it’s been an uphill battle.

“Many activists are pushing for more inclusion of women, [but] unfortunately, consultations have poor representations of women and negotiations have had almost no presence of women too,” she said.

“This is very unfortunate . . . [and] it has been proven that when women are involved, lasting peace can happen. There are many issues that we believe women have to be included if we want to ensure lasting peace.”

Diplomats are expected to shuttle between the warring parties to discuss other confidence-building steps and the formation of a transitional governing body, a UN source said.

As negotiations were set to begin on Thursday, Swedish hosts called for constructive talks to end what Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called a “catastrophe”. Griffiths, flanked by the two delegations, told them not to waiver.

Yemen Rivals Lash Out
As Peace Talks Prepare to Open

Pro-Saudi forces reiterate demands
for Houthis to disarm and surrender

Jason Ditz /

(December 6, 2018) — Yemen’s high profile peace talks in Sweden are set to open, but already look to be on the brink of collapse, with both sides lashing out at one another, and Houthi officials openly questioning whether the talks are even serious and worth pursuing.

The big stumbling block is that, having finally gotten both sides to the table to discuss a settlement of the multi-year war, the pro-Saudi Hadi government reiterated the same demands they had at the start of the war, insisting that the Houthis unconditionally disarm, and cede the city of Hodeidah to them.

The Houthis are being a bit more modest in their goals, focusing on trying to get the Sanaa International Airport reopened to civilian traffic. They’d also like Hodeidah to remain open to aid, though that’s a matter the UN is already pushing hard for without them.

Though every side went into these talks expressing support for a peace process that would end the war, the Hadi government has continued to make it clear their demands are an unconditional victory, and as ever that is putting a roadblock in front of serious efforts to start making a permanent deal.

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