By Jamie Beboso
CAIRO (UN Press Corps) - Yemen has been the site of many wars and conflicts over the years and are even in the midst one currently. The present war exists between the Houthi rebels in North Yemen and Yemeni military in the South. Citizens of Yemen are caught in the crossfire and therefore, are the most affected by this conflict presently. To address this humanitarian crisis, delegates of the Arab League have come together this week to discuss further action to promote peace and ensure humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.
During the committee proceedings, the delegates discussed Iran’s financial assistance to the Houthi rebels. In light of this, some states, including Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Comoros, and Egypt, have proposed sanctions against Iran if their financial support towards the rebels continues. In the words of the delegate of Morocco: “We want to make sure that there's a clause or a contingent clause to make sure that Iran is held accountable in case they keep funding the Houthi rebels which only further exacerbates the problem in Yemen...” Additionally, a committee member asserted that all trading and diplomatic relations between Iran and the nations in the Arab League will end if Iran does not agree to peace talks or stop its financial support towards the Houthi rebels. This solution caused many disagreements as some countries were in favor of and some were opposed to sanctions against Iran.
The countries who approved of the sanctions included Morocco, Comoros, Egypt, who reasoned that sanctions are “...not a threat, but a way to bring peace,” and Saudi Arabia who stated, “people must be allowed to defend themselves, Yemen must defend itself.” The countries opposed to this clause included Algeria, Syria and Kuwait who noted that they doubted the effectiveness of the sanctions. “We will not frighten Iran into coming to the table” said the delegate of Algeria. The delegate of Kuwait added, “I think they have seen that it (sanctions) hasn’t worked. There was a resolution passed in 2015-2016, basically imposing sanctions but the humanitarian crises have only gone downhill since that resolution was passed so I don’t think Kuwait supports that anymore”. Qatar remained ambiguous as their delegate stated that though they were in favor of sanctions, they believed that international law was enough to hold Iran accountable. Later on, the delegate also stated that the sanctions made must not be anti-Iranian, but anti-terrorist so that these sanctions may apply to other countries as well.
Another part of the discussion focused on taking direct action against the humanitarian crisis experienced by the citizens of Yemen. According to the delegate of Kuwait: “We [delegates] are focused on the long-term: fixing agriculture, fixing sanitation, dealing with the different ethnic conflicts, developing demilitarized zones cross-hatching the country, demilitarizing pathways so that they can hold centers for aid and so that people can get to them, because the biggest issue right now isn`t the lack of humanitarian aid but the inability to get that to the people who need it.” The delegate of Comoros also stated that they were looking into building underground hospitals, mud houses, 3D printed houses, houses that took less time to build as they were simply generated by a 3D printer and getting their humanitarian workers through the rebels` blockade into a check-in system that allowed workers to get in and out of Yemen.
Despite obvious differences of opinion, the Arab League seems to know when to put their differences aside and make choices for the greater good of their citizens, showing deep unity and true leadership in the face of terrorism.