The International Crisis Group has urged the United States to help its ally, Saudi Arabia, to find a way out of its deadly war on Yemen that has left the kingdom sapped of resources and reputation.
The group, which is committed to resolving conflicts, said in a study on Sunday that the Saudi-led coalition “needs to stop thinking about how to eke out some notional victory.”
The International Crisis Group added that the alliance should “instead commit itself wholly to finding a political exit, regardless of whether that means empowering the Houthis more than it is comfortable with in the short term.”
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen on March 26, 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Houthis.
The ICG report comes after the US Congress voted to end Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen in response to persistent civilian casualties and widespread hunger in the improvised country as well as Saudi Arabia’s killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bill, but has not yet done so.
The report called on the US to appoint a special envoy and freeze most of its arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the kingdom ends its military campaign against Yemen.
“The US should lead the way by finding its own exit,” the ICG said.According to the International Crisis Group, the conflict has left Saudi Arabia sapped of resources and reputation.
“I think they see that they need to end it (but) they don’t know how to end it,” Robert Malley, the head of the organization, said of the Saudis.
He stressed that the Saudis have failed to achieve their goals in Yemen.
The Saudis keep thinking “a little more military power and the Houthis will crack and then we’ll be able to end the war and Iran will be on its backfoot,” he said. “But we have four years of evidence to disprove that.”
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy acknowledged the report’s finding that the Saudis cannot win the fight against Houthis.
“This is not a question of whether or not the coalition is going to defeat the Houthis; that question has been answered,” Murphy said at a briefing on the report.
“The Houthis are going to play a substantial and significant role in the future governance of Yemen, so it is a matter of deciding how the Saudis will live with that in a way that doesn’t threaten their long-term security interests.”
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.