Saving The Stockholm Agreement And Averting A Regional Conflagration In Yemen

What`s new? A UN-brokered agreement to demilitarise the Yemeni port city of Hodeida is stuck. The Yemeni government insists on a complete handover of Hodeida by the Huthis, which the latter rejects. Meanwhile, Houthi attacks on Saudi territory and Saudi airstrikes in Yemen have intensified in the past three months. The Stockholm Agreement is a voluntary agreement between the parties to the conflict in Yemen. It was approved on 13 December 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Stockholm Agreement consists of three main elements: we see the modest successes of the Stockholm agreement in the fact that we are moving closer to achieving a lasting peace for all Yemenis. The process can be slow. There will still be setbacks. But we will continue to promote and appreciate every small milestone on the road to supporting Yemenis in their quest for peace and stability.

When they arrived in Sweden in December 2018, the Houthis (whose troops were facing a military attack) and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi were under increasing international pressure to reach an agreement. The final push came with the arrival of UN Secretary-General Anténio Guterres to the talks, last-minute phone calls from Mattis to senior Saudi and Emirati officials, and resulting pressure from Riyadh on the Hadi government to accept a compromise on Hodeida. In the end, the agreement was so hasty that the parties did not really sign it. [fn]”Making Yemen`s Hodeida Deal Stick,” Crisis Group Q-A, 19 December 2018.Hide Footnote They also left the deal`s language vague, especially in the section described the local security forces that were to control Hodeida once front-line forces redeployed. [fn]”Security of the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa will be the responsibility of local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law. Legal powers must be respected and all obstacles to the proper functioning of local state institutions, including supervisory authorities, are removed. “Agreement on the City of Hodeidah and Ports of Hodeidah, Salif, and Ras Isa,” UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen. See Appendix A. The government points to the terms “in accordance with Yemeni law” to argue that its forces are needed to provide security. For their part, the Houthis say (and the UN agrees) that it has always been understood that the agreement was aimed at averting a humanitarian catastrophe and not at resolving sovereignty issues. Crisis Group Interviews, New York, Abu Dhabi, April-June 2019.Hide Footnote The parties have committed to an immediate ceasefire in the city of Hudaydah and the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa, the redistribution of the armed forces, the securing of ports, the establishment of the Joint Coordination Committee under the UN Presidency , and the use of port revenues to support the payment of public service salaries.