JournalismPakistan.com May 13, 2015
Guns have to be completely silenced before humanitarian aid can begin to enter Yemen. A truce means just that and no less. Even as Saudi Arabia is keenly aware that five days of ‘peace’ aimed at double edged goals is always in danger of falling apart, it has no option but to maintain an even higher degree of readiness for that eventuality. Truces are always fragile and in factional infighting difficult to predict their success. The flip side of a truce is an ambush, large, small or full-scale and Riyadh has to take into account that possibility before spiking its weapons.
Indeed, it is Saudi Arabia that has called for this gesture in the hope that while the wounded and the suffering, the homeless and the destitute, all casualties of war are given food and medicines these five days can also be used to unfold the negotiating table. If there is a problem in getting the talks going despite all good intentions it is the realm of who to talk to and who will be the adhesive to keep things together. While one appreciates the honesty of the new UN envoy who has landed in Yemen the fact is that Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has underscored the need for a Yemeni solution for a Yemeni problem and this may not be that easy since the cracks in the ethnic mapping are intense.
It can only be hoped that the ceasefire holds and the first day will be tension filled because suspicion will be on a hair trigger.
Truces do not happen very often. Historically the 1914 Christmas truce after WW I was probably the most famous but it never occurred through the war years or into WW II. There was only a break of a few hours when wooden legs were flown on a Red Cross aircraft for a British prisoner of war, Group captain Douglas Bader in a very rare act of graciousness during conflict.
In this difficult time one must laud the Saudi Arabian initiative and all efforts have to be made to mark a breakthrough because at the end of five days if there has been no progress the battle enjoined not just with more bitterness but also becoming open-ended so that the call for a second truce may not be heard or brought about so easily. In the interim let not trigger happy groups stymie the shipments of aid and succor that are standing by be compromised. They must reach the afflicted.
Let us hope that right minds listen and come to table… enough blood has been shed. There is no need for more loss of life and more devastation.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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