The US government’s call for all parties involved in the Yemen Civil War to come to an agreement on a ceasefire within thirty days is starting to bear fruit. Great Britain plans to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution next week aimed at supporting a cease fire. The details are sketchy, however, a colleague of mine in the British Foreign Office assured me the proposed resolution will call for a humanitarian cease fire, and safe passage of food, medical supplies, and other humanitarian materials. Great Britain, like the United States and much of the West, is hopeful a UN resolution will provide a nudge for all parties to engage the UN efforts towards an end to the fighting.
The United States is ramping up pressure on Saudi Arabia to agree to a ceasefire. With the Khashoggi drama still fresh in everyone’s mind it truly would be in the best interest of the Saudis to explore a ceasefire. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged Riyadh to end airstrikes against targets in populated areas. Many of the strikes have produced significant civilian casualties, or damaged a portion of Yemen’s already crumbling infrastructure.
The wildcard is Iran. Many of Iran’s foreign endeavors have soured over the last year. This fact, however, provides no guarantee that Tehran will push the Houthi rebels to attend ceasefire talks. In fact, Iranian support for the Houthis could increase if Iran’s leaders sense that Saudi resolve is weakening and an opportunity to perhaps end the war on favorable terms develops as a result.
The United States has to be cautious that its efforts to bring about a ceasefire do not inadvertently present Iran with such an opportunity. The Trump administration is being delicate with how it is dealing with Saudi Arabia at the moment, partially due to the current geopolitical picture in the Persian Gulf region. The US does not want to do anything that will ultimately give Iran a victory, real or imagined, that leads other nations reconsider their position on future US sanctions against Iran.