Yemen: Warring Sides Hold Prisoner Exchange Talks in Geneva

    Yemen: Warring Sides Hold Prisoner Exchange Talks in Geneva
    Last updated Mar 13, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via The New Arab]


    • The UN announced on Saturday that Yemen's Saudi-backed government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels began talks in Geneva regarding a prisoner exchange. The UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg and the International Committee of the Red Cross have co-chaired the negotiations.
    • Grundberg expressed his hopes that "the parties are ready to engage in serious and forthcoming discussions to agree on releasing as many detainees as possible,” urging them to fulfill their commitments.
    • Yemen's official news agency reported on Monday that the Houthis released 117 inmates ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts next week, following inspections by local and judicial officials.
    • The most recent large prisoner exchange between the warring sides occurred in October 2020, with over 1K prisoners being swapped. Regional and international mediators have been calling for another deal to free thousands of detainees as hostilities have notably halted since April last year under a UN-brokered agreement.
    • The negotiations were launched only a day after Saudi Arabia and Iran announced that they would be re-engaging diplomatically following negotiations mediated by China. Talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi movement have also progressed since they began in October.
    • Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when the Houthi rebels captured much of the country, prompting a Saudi-led intervention.


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The Houthis have continued to threaten peace and security in Yemen since they launched their coup in 2014. However, through mediation and compromise, an agreement can be made if the Houthis and their Iranian backers are willing to compromise and allow the country to enjoy peace. Saudi Arabia is surely willing to compromise and has always been willing to help bring peace to the impoverished Arab nation, but Iranian meddling has not helped the situation. Ultimately, the conflict can only end in a political settlement.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    It's the Yemeni government and its powerful Gulf allies who have obstructed peace in Yemen and continue to punish its citizens for standing up for themselves, but, ultimately, a political process is likely the best way to end the war at this stage in the conflict. The Houthis have shown in the past that they are willing to take good-faith actions for peace, and releasing prisoners demonstrates this desire. Hopefully, with good mediation, this war of aggression can finally come to an end.

    Establishment split



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