Despite Biden’s push, a difficult road to peace in Yemen

CAIRO (HRNW) — Buthaina al-Raimi was five years old when a Saudi airstrike destroyed her home in the Yemeni capital and killed her parents and all five of her siblings in August 2017.

Ever since, she still breaks into tears for seemingly no reason. When planes fly overhead, she shouts to her uncle, “They’re going to hit us!”

For her uncle, Khalid Mohammed Saleh, the U.S. decision last month to stop backing the Saudi coalition and push for an end to the war can do nothing to end her suffering.

“It’s a wise decision, but it’s too late,” he said. It’s also too early, he said — too early to say whether President Joe Biden’s move will bring peace to Yemen.

Biden’s halt to support for the Saudi-led coalition was a dramatic break with the air campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which had brought international condemnation for causing thousands of civilian deaths. With the move, Biden launched a new push to bring an end to a 6-year-old war that has caused the Arab world’s poorest nation to collapse into a humanitarian catastrophe.

But reaching peace will be a difficult path. The warring parties have not held substantive negotiations since 2019. A deal brokered by the U.N. in 2018 after talks in Sweden has largely gone nowhere; only one of its components — prisoner exchanges — has made any progress in slow steps worked out in multiple rounds of talks.

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