By Aphrael Spindloe
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Hisham Al-Omeisy: A discussion on the Yemen Crisis
On the 22nd March, I was lucky enough to meet political analysist and Yemen consultant Hisham Al-Omeisy; a man who has been critical of both sides in the Yemen Civil war and has spent more than 150 days in captivity due to his criticism of the Houthi movement in the North of Yemen. I cannot begin to describe how in awe I was listening to him speak after the ordeal he has been through and the kind of horrors he has experienced in Yemen. He was so wise and knowledgeable not just of the situation in Yemen but the international situation as well. He is aware of the difficulties there can be for international organisations to attempt to help, however he also points out (and rightly so) that there plenty more that international organisations can do, and the UK has a big part to play in the peace process.
A point he made that struck me as significant was Hisham explaining the people of Yemen are not naïve. In Yemen they are trying to learn politics so as to encourage not only peace but also to appeal to politicians in places like the UK. By doing this the Yemeni people are hoping countries will hold Saudi Arabia accountable as well as to stop selling Saudi Arabia weapons which end up bombing innocent people. For example, insisting on protocols to check new intelligence before bombing. Hisham spoke of an orphanage being blown up near where he lived and schools being blown up to prevent the children being used as child soldiers. I think it’s easy to see how wrong this all is and why the UK must intervene.
It was also discussed about the United Nations constantly pumping aid into Yemen, which is positive but does not deal with the actual issue. Hisham encourages the UN to create a sustainability plan in order to build Yemen into a more democratic and peaceful country. He also explained how ‘Elites don’t understand what we’re going through’, explaining how important it is for politicians to include more people at the decision table; especially as many southern groups in the conflict are excluded in the political processes in Yemen. Even within the two main groups in the conflict there are a variety of factions which will all want to be included in any peace deal. It was noted that this has been known for years and some in the discussion argued this should have been happening all along. However, it is not all black and white. In a conflict zone implementing a sustainability plan can be impossible if areas are cut off by hostilities or destroyed infrastructure. Also if some sustainable work is carried out whilst conflict is still raging, it is uncertain the work done will even survive until the conflict has ended.
Hisham has come to the United Kingdom in an attempt to encourage the people of this country to put in more effort to help the people in Yemen. As the official penholder of the Yemini peace process, the UK has an important part to play in helping Yemen and stopping the conflict. During his visit he has already met with representatives from Ministry of Defence and he also spoke of his opinion on Jeremy Hunt (the UK foreign minister) and his involvement in the process. Hisham believes that Mr Hunt is actually better than UN envoys involved because he is more forceful, in part because he requires a political win at this moment. Arguably, having the United Kingdom as penholders in positive because it means the is more pressure to end the conflict as soon as possible. Otherwise its credibility in international relations will decline even further. Therefor hopefully if the UK can take on board what Hisham has recommended, the it can be more part of the solution than the problem in Yemen.