As part of its China-brokered deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran has agreed to stop arming Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Officially, Tehran denies arming the rebels, who have been fighting forces aligned with Yemen’s internationally recognized government—including a Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition—for eight years. Regardless of the report’s veracity, the deal between the regional rivals has put a renewed focus on efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, which many have portrayed as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
It’s actually far more complicated than that: the violence is rooted in real grievances, and political and military alliances are also at play at a much more local level. Powerful Yemeni actors—all vying for a stake in the country’s future—have often been left out of official peace talks. Still, as analysts try to parse what the new Iran-Saudi deal means for stability in the Middle East (or for Beijing’s role as a diplomatic power player), at least some of the focus is on what it means for Yemen.
From The New Humanitarian, March 17
Map via University of Texas