Manel Msalmi expresses the need for women mediators in Yemen

Opportunities and challenges for Peace in Yemen

Manel Msalmi,

April 27, 2021 

Above, Msalmi in a recent interview with Republic Underground Roundtables. Msalmi is an active voice for women’s rights and minorities. From the seminar entitled, “Researching the opportunities and challenges of the peace process in Yemen in light of the Saudi initiative.”

The Arab spring uprisings changed the political landscape in Yemen and gave hope to the population.

However, this dramatic change doesn’t bring transformations mainly for Yemeni women who gained a place at the political scene during the protests of 2011 and got a rod of an autocratic regime but didn’t get international support to be part of the peaceful solutions for the country.

To create peace and stability in Yemen, we definitely need to include women in the political process. Female activists were always at the frontline fighting against corruption, violence, and for peace and justice.

In 2013/2014, the UN initiative to bring peace in Yemen wanted a political process in which the political parties, the powerful tribes, the ruling elite together with youth and women come together to establish a national dialogue with 30 % of quota for women in an attempt to make a new constitution. Unfortunately, the dialogue failed to establish a democratic Yemen because the vision was only on paper and there was a huge power struggle between the different parties.

Houthi rebels backed by Saleh chased his successor to the Southern port, the Houthis saw as an Iranian proxy made an airstrike on the presidential palace in Aden which triggered the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the war escalated and continued till today.

The diplomatic officials wanted to avoid the Syrian and Lybian scenarios in which the revolution turns into chaos. Today, diplomats focus on a cease-fire between the Houthis, Saudi Arabia, and Hadi’s government in an attempt to end the war .women however are worried about a deal between two parties that would not include female leaders.

They don’t want to be excluded from politics and the future of the country. Yemen witnessed one of the biggest humanitarian crises and the country might face famine so, to build sustainable peace, all players should be included .local advocates for Peace such as youth and female leaders should be participating in the peace process.

Their expertise can provide perspectives and local reality. Civil society organizations can work locally to build peace and stability together with the other players.

Women’s organizations have tackled so many sensitive issues that the UN ignored so that the UN security council should impose a quota for women’s participation to be representatives in the government. It is important to protect women’s rights after the war ends and ensure the civil society actors their rights to be active players for successful peacebuilding in Yemen.

Hear more of Msalmi’s insights into the need for empowering women in today’s security and society discussions. 

To keep peace in the region, we need to guarantee the future of the new generation. Women are always worried about the future of their children and want a better education and future for their kids.

It is important to guarantee a balanced curriculum of education for young children and avoid radicalism. Unfortunately, the Houthis have made lately changes to the education curriculum transforming schools into military camps according to Education minister Tareq Salim Al-Akbari. The Yemeni government and human rights activists accused the Houthis of brainwashing and training primary school students for war.

It is a huge human rights violation regarding children’s rights. Children are indoctrinated and exploited for the sake of war. The peace process must guarantee the children ‘s rights to have access to education and well-being instead of teaching them violence and terrorism.

These children are victims of Houthis propaganda and this radical ideology must stop. Raising a generation of extremists as the minister warned is a real danger to Yemen and to the whole region. Radicalized children by the militia of the Houthis are psychologically and mentally disturbed.

They aim to control the new generation and send them to death. Human rights organizations said that the Houthis recruited thousands of children since 2014 and hundreds died in the battle last year. Human rights advocate and lawyer Huda Al Sarari said that 1,410 children aged between 10 and 15 recruited by the militia had been killed in 2020. The Houthis set up 52 military points for indoctrinating and training children in which 40000 kids were incorporated during the last 7 years.

The Peace initiative led by Saudi Arabia is a good step towards reconciliation and national dialogue.

However, as the Yemeni minister of information, culture and tourism pointed out the silence of human rights organizations on Houthis crime.

Get the whole seminar below.

Opportunities and challenges Yemen peace process Saudi initiative panel

 

Although we understand that the Houthi militia is merely a dirty tool to carry out the Iranian agenda of targeting Saudi Arabia, spreading chaos and terrorism in the region, and threatening commercial ships and international shipping lanes, we call on our countries that are communicating with the Houthis to play a constructive role.

The militia which controls most of Yemen‘s north and supports President Hadi’s government recognized by the U.N. is financed by Iran in an attempt to influence the region.

The US department state under the Trump administration listed the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist organization and put pressure on Iran and its proxies. However, with Biden administration and the US decision to delist the Houthis from the terror list made the human rights organizations of the international community even more silent about the Houthis war crime.

The U.N. security council has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative to end the war in Yemen and find a political solution to this humanitarian crisis. All Yemeni parties should engage in a constructive dialogue with the UN special initiative for an immediate ceasefire concerning U.N. security council resolutions.

The participation of Yemeni women and youth leaders in talks is a priority to guarantee the sovereignty and national unity. The escalation against Marib city must be stopped and the Houthis should cooperate with UN experts to inspect the coast of Yemen.

The war has killed more than 112000 people and has left 24 million in need of humanitarian aid. The pandemic has fragilized a population that lacks access to health care and very vulnerable due to famine and malnutrition. After more than 6 years of war, the parties should seize this opportunity of peacebuilding because Yemen’s political and territorial fragmentation demands a rethinking of the negotiation framework. The agreement should address the new realities, the failure to address social and economic problems which contributed to the Arab spring in Yemen in 2011 and contributed to the rise of the Houthis must be addressed to prevent instability and war.

The impacts of poverty on women ‘s security are high and female child marriage among poor families is rising. Economic and educational opportunities, as well as gender equality, will fight against poverty and social injustices. Women are vulnerable and suffer from poverty and marginalization.

Muslim brotherhood and growing extremist religious groups prevent women from leadership roles. They have penetrated educational institutions, ministries, and rural tribal leadership funded by Qatar, Turkey, and Iran to stop women from getting equal rights and have a public voice by rejecting minimum marriage ages and progressive family laws as well as women’s rights.

The UN resolutions should guarantee secularism and women’s equal rights as well as leadership and key positions in the new government. Social and economic justice, as well as individual freedoms and freedom of speech, must be included in the new constitution .we should never forget the objectives of the revolution and the reason why millions of people died for the sake of freedom and democracy.

The international community should support civil society in its quest for freedom and dignity and the right of the new generation for equal rights, education, health, and safety. It is a shared responsibility between political leaders as well as human rights organizations which are the guardians of universal values and the only local actors which can give an authentic description of the situation on the ground and help UN experts maintain peace and stability in the region.