Driven to compromise? Yemen’s pending peace

“I think the conflict has reached a point where it’s too painful for everyone, including the Saudis. […] They have found out the hard way that air bombings are not going to resolve the problem. They can still bomb for another two years and nothing will happen.”

With more than a year into the Yemen War, what really keeps this conflict going?

Professor Sultan Barakat (Director Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies) holds that the Saudi-led military coalition ran out of “A”-targets in the first 2 weeks of its bombing campaign in Yemen, leaving “American intelligence […] really stretched trying to identify what are largely moving targets in the country”. According to Professor Barakat, these attempts to disperse Yemen’s elusive rebel militias resulted in increasingly indiscriminate airstrikes, hitting mostly civilian targets.

Barakt also argues that all parties have significant interest in ending the conflict, with the Houthi rebels under a lot of internal pressure as the tide within rebel-held territory is turning from initial euphoria to its populations’ increasing frustration with weak governance and insufficient services.


Sultan Barakat is the Director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and Professor at the University of York.

The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on June 22nd, 2016.