The Saudi-Iranian rivalry: Yemen's ceasefire as a turning point

(File photo: Jordan News)
Following a series of meetings in Riyadh and Muscat with the Yemeni parties, including the President of the Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad al Alimi, and the Houthis Group known as "Ansar Allah" chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdul Salam. The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, announced the Yemeni parties' agreement to put forward a roadmap to support the peace process to end the conflict in Yemen through the Yemeni parties' pledge to take a set of measures to implement a ceasefire across the country and enhance living conditions in Yemen.اضافة اعلان

Among others, the UN plan calls for payment for all public sector salaries, the resumption of oil exports, the opening of highways in Taiz and other regions of Yemen, and the removal of restrictions on Sana'a Airport and Al-Hudaydah Port. The roadmap will also build implementation mechanisms and provide the groundwork for a Yemeni-led political process under the auspices of the UN. As a result, this deal serves as a light of optimism in a region suffering from conflict and discord.

However, beyond its immediate consequences for Yemen's future, this remarkable development has far-reaching repercussions, particularly for the long-standing Saudi-Iranian rivalry and regional security dynamics. The ongoing rivalries between Saudi Arabia and Iran have long played a crucial role in shaping Middle Eastern geopolitics. Their competition, which is frequently marked by proxy conflicts and power struggles in the region and the Islamic world, has severe consequences for regional security, particularly evident in the backdrop of the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in particular.
“The Yemeni ceasefire agreement is an important step toward settling one of the region's longest conflicts”
Yemen's conflict has served as a focal point for competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with both states supporting opposing groups. Saudi Arabia has led an alliance in support of Yemen's internationally recognized government, while Iran has supported the Houthi rebels. The resolution of the Yemeni conflict may reduce tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and lead to more regional stability, creating space for potential understanding and easing geopolitical rivalries, albeit gradually.

The implications of ending the conflict in Yemen on regional security cannot be overstated. Yemen's prolonged conflict has been a source of regional instability, contributing to humanitarian crises and escalating tensions among neighboring states. A sustainable ceasefire and permanent resolution in the Yemeni conflict might reduce tensions and build a more stable and secure environment in the region.

One immediate impact of ending the conflict is the prospect of redirecting resources and focus away from the Yemeni battleground toward other regional challenges. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have notably invested in the Yemeni conflict, consuming money, attention, and diplomatic efforts from elsewhere. If the Yemeni conflict is resolved, both states will be able to refocus their efforts on other regional challenges and priorities.

Moreover, the end of the Yemeni conflict could lead to a shift in the broader geopolitical landscape. It may force a rethinking of Middle Eastern relationships and geopolitical strategies. A de-escalation in Yemen might foster broader regional engagement and collaboration, perhaps opening the path for diplomatic successes in other conflicts and crises.
“If the Yemeni conflict is resolved, both [Iran and Saudi Arabia] will be able to refocus their efforts on other regional challenges and priorities”
Additionally, a peaceful resolution in Yemen could reduce the humanitarian suffering of millions of Yemenis. The end of hostilities and the setting up of a peace roadmap provide optimism for the delivery of humanitarian supplies, access to fundamental needs, and the reconstruction of infrastructure in a war-torn state.

Despite the optimism around the ceasefire agreement, challenges remain on Yemen's path to enduring peace. The implementation of the ceasefire and associated plan will need continued commitment from all parties involved. Ensuring compliance with agreed-upon measures, overcoming possible spoilers, and resolving underlying concerns will be critical to cementing the ceasefire and moving the peace process forward.

Finally, the Yemeni ceasefire agreement is an important step toward settling one of the region's longest conflicts. Its impact on the Saudi-Iranian rivalry and regional security dynamics could be transformative. While challenges remain, the possibility for regional stability and collaboration is boosted by Yemeni conflict resolution. It is critical that all parties should take this opportunity, negotiate challenges, and strive toward a permanent and inclusive peace for the stability and security of Yemen and the Middle East as a whole.

Rakan Nawaf Al-Ghaniem, Research Fellow at the Arab Institute for Security Studies.

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Jordan News' point of view.

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