Against all odds, October 1 will mark the six-month anniversary of a ceasefire in Yemen between the Houthi rebels in the north and the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), the collective head of state of the internationally-recognized government, in the south. The endurance and repeated renewal of the peace agreement—originally envisioned as a temporary truce during the month of Ramadan—suggests to many observers that most factions within Yemen are quietly eager to end the conflict. Indeed, polling within the country confirms overwhelming popular support for a lasting peace agreement between the north and south.
However, the prospective reunification of Yemen will come with several major complications. Because neither side “won” the civil war, neither side will “own” the postwar state; instead, the state institutions of the Houthis and the PLC will need to be stitched together on more or less equal terms. In particular, peace negotiators will need to consider three major challenges: the unification of the two sides’ governments within one central bureaucracy; the lasting integration of the two militaries, understandably hostile toward each other in the wake of a horrific eight-year civil war, into one national armed forces; and an agreement on the distribution of Yemen’s wealth and natural resource revenues across the newly unified country. If the transition to peace is mismanaged, the two sides’ militaries left unintegrated, and state resources distributed unfairly, it could create lasting and ongoing grievances and plant the seeds for a future resumption of conflict.
Is a lasting peace agreement finally ending the Yemeni Civil War likely to occur? How would this settlement be achieved? In what ways can Yemeni peace negotiators make progress toward achieving the major objectives stated above? If a peace agreement cannot be achieved, what are the plausible alternatives?
Featured speakers: Ambassador Patrick Theros (moderator), HE Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, HE Ms. Amat Alaleem Alsoswa, Ambassador Matthew Tueller, and Abdulghani Al-Iryani.
Ambassador Patrick Theros (moderator)
Strategic Advisor, Gulf International Forum
Ambassador Theros has held such positions as Political Advisor to the Commander in Chief, Central Command; Deputy Chief of Mission and Political officer in Amman; Charge D’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi; Economic Counselor in Damascus; and U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar. In a career spanning almost 36 years, he also has served in diplomatic positions in Beirut, Managua, Dharan and Abu Dhabi, as well as in the Department of State. During that period, he earned four Superior Honor Awards. After retirement Ambassador Theros served as President of the U.S. Qatar Business Council in 2000-2017.
H.E. Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yemen
Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi is the former Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is the longest-serving Foreign Minister of Yemen, occupying the post from 2001 to 2014. From 1982-1987, he was the Dean of the Medical School of Sana’a University. In 1993, he was appointed Yemeni Minister of Education. He has a background in medicine, and received degrees from the Universities Edinburgh, Liver- pool and London.
H.E. Amat Alalim Alsoswa
Former Minister for Human Rights of the Republic of Yemen
Recently she was a member of the High-Level Advisory Panel for the UNDP 2022 Report on Human Security. As a senior consultant with the World Bank/MENA since 2016, she authored analyses and reports on Women, Peace and Security, food security, peace building and reconstruction, fragility, gender equality, sustainable growth and equity, informality, youth unemployment, transparency, and strengthening government response to citizens’ needs.
In March 2020, she chaired and moderated the virtual panel on The Regional Role in Supporting Yemen’s Peace Process, organized by the Yemeni Women’s Peace Track Initiative. In Sep 2018, at the invitation of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, she joined the Women’s Advisory Group and attended Yemen’s Peace Consultations in Geneva. She was invited to participate in the International Peace Institute’s ministerial meeting on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda held on the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325.
In 2014-2015, she was Managing Director of Yemen’s Executive Bureau for the Acceleration of Aid Absorption and Support for Policy Reforms in Yemen. As a member of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference State Building team (2013-2014), she stressed the importance of ensuring human rights, good governance, and the rule of law in the draft new constitution.
Alsoswa served the UN as Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and Regional Director of the Arab States Bureau from 2006 to 2012. She supervised two editions of the Arab Human Development Report which covered women’s empowerment and human security, respectively.
From 2003 to 2006 she was Yemen’s first Minister of Human Rights and established a discourse to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable populations and marginalized groups, including women and refugees. She was Yemen’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark (2000-2003), During this period she was Yemen’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. In 1996, she established and chaired Yemen’s Women’s National Committee in response to the recommendations of the 1995 United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing.
Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller
Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Iraq, and Kuwait
Ambassador Tueller, of the State of Utah, is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He was the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait 2011-2014, U.S. Ambassador to Yemen 2014-2019, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq 2019-2022. His other overseas assignments have included Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Cairo; Political Minister Counselor at Embassy Baghdad; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Kuwait; Political Counselor at Embassy Riyadh; Chief of the U.S. Office in Aden, Yemen; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Doha; Political Officer at Embassy London; and Political Officer and Consular Officer at Embassy Amman. His Washington assignments have included Deputy Director in the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs and Egypt Desk Officer.
Senior Researcher, Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies
Abdulghani Al-Iryani is a senior researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies where he focuses on the peace process, conflict analysis and transformations of the Yemeni state. Al-Iryani has more than three decades of experience as a political and development consultant.
Prior to joining the Sana’a Center, Al-Iryani worked with the United Nations in the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen and with the United Nations Development Programme’s mission in Hudaydah, as well as with the World Bank on issues related to the conflict in Yemen. He has conducted research on constitutional reform, anti-corruption, governance, government capacity, state-building, and conflict management and resolution as well as social and economic development.
Since the 1980s, Al-Iryani has consulted for a number of international organizations, including UN agencies, the World Bank, DFID, GIZ, USAID and AUSAID. His volunteer work includes co-founding and serving as president of TAWQ, a political NGO advocating democracy. He also served on the Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch MENA Region.