Yemen, Iran and Oman: Reaching out to Peace through Food

Despite the second wave of Covid-19, the overall diplomatic air in Muscat is optimistic, writes Sayyid Nooh Mohammed Al Busaidi.
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By Sayyid Nooh Mohammed Al Busaidi

Sayyid Nooh Mohammed Al Busaidi is a Member of the State Council of the Sultanate of Oman and Chair of the Oman Historical Association

17 Mar 2021

As some of your readers may have noticed, there have been glimpses in the international news cycle of mediation sessions taking place in Oman’s capital Muscat, aimed at ending the war in Yemen and ushering in a new  era for the Gulf region.

Such a development is all the more promising following the change in Washington DC’s political mood. On more than one occasion the new Biden Administration has said that it favours a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen.

Another factor that is of immediate urgency, and probably renders all arguments for the war futile, is the United Nations very clear warning that Yemenis are heading for the worst famine crisis in history.

Addressing the UN Security Council, WHO Director David Beasly recently said that “Around 400,000 children may die in Yemen this year without urgent intervention.

That is roughly one child every 75 seconds. So, while we’re sitting here, every minute and a quarter, a child is dying. Are we really going to turn our backs on them and look the other way?”

In Oman, just north of Yemen, we feel the pain. However we conclude that the warlords have no more cards to play; there is no longer a winner takes all strategy.

Five years after the start of the war, Saudi cities are still vulnerable to Houthi drones; the latest attack was earlier this month as the assault reached Aramco oil installations in Ras Tanura. The war does not promote anyone’s interest, locally or geo-strategically.

"Oman’s decades long experience in helping feuding parties to step back can be used. So since mid February, there have been increasing numbers of dignitaries visiting Muscat"

Oil has to find another way out. That will allow all parties to the violence to exit as well.

But how do we to get there quickly? Muscat's decades long experience in helping feuding parties to step back can be used. So since mid February, there have been increasing numbers of dignitaries visiting Muscat.

Earlier this month the UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdul Allah bin Zaid Al Nihayan unexpectedly visited Muscat.

This followed earlier trips by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Recently, the US Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, met with Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad.

They evaluated the international efforts with regard to the conflict in Yemen. Meanwhile, Kuwait's Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Al Sabah, has also visited Muscat.

Capping off a flurry of diplomatic activity, Sayyid Badr and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, are reported to have discussed the "need to end the Yemen war."

"The Yemen conflict, now in its sixth year, has become not only a burden for the region, but a stain on the international community. The intense human suffering must stop now"

Details of these discussions are lacking. However observers have a strong sense that a recipe is being crafted for a solution in Yemen. The newly elected officials in Washington, DC have searched for fresh approaches.

The Yemen conflict, now in its sixth year, has become not only a burden for the region, but a stain on the international community. The intense human suffering must stop now.

This is an opportune moment for the European Union to step in. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her September 2020 State of the Union speech, addressed the Bloc’s geopolitical ambitions.

This is a good point to start. The White House can be encouraged in the right direction. And this would even be more fruitful if augmented by a European initiative in the humanitarian field. Yemeni children are dying of malnutrition before our eyes without international support.

Oman is at Washington’s and Brussels’ disposal to assist. If there was a time for Europe to step in, it is now.

Oman’s Charitable Organisations are well targeted and connected in Yemen. With food and fuel together we can bring peace to the Yemeni nation, and, why not,  an opening to other urgent peace issues for which we need Iran.

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