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    Peacebuilding Mode On: Russia Could Resolve Another Major Mideast Conflict

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    Yemen has been devastated by a yearlong civil war, but the latest UN-sponsored peace plan for the poorest country in the Arab world is expected to put an end to the humanitarian disaster and Russia could well play a prominent role in this process.

    A nationwide ceasefire is expected to come into effect on April 10, followed by the peace talks slated to be held in Kuwait a week later as part of the latest push to end the violence. Two previous attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means have failed.

    Yemen's internationally recognized government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has been deadlocked in a power struggle with the Houthis, allied with forces loyal to the country's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudi-led multinational coalition has conducted airstrikes at Hadi's request since March 2015.

    Shiite rebels, known as Houthis protest against Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, March 18, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Hani Mohammed
    Shiite rebels, known as Houthis protest against Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, March 18, 2016.

    The fighting has left more than 6,000 people killed and 30,000 injured. Approximately 80 percent of Yemen's 26 million population is in dire need of humanitarian aid.

    ​Moreover, the power struggle and the ensuing chaos have helped terrorist organizations, including Daesh and al-Qaeda's most brutal offshoot, AQAP, gain a foothold in the country. On Friday, at least 26 people were killed in three suicide bombings in the city of Aden. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.

    "Like the Syrian crisis, Yemen's war is a conflict wherein Saudi and Iranian interests collide, and Russia could be a mediator in its resolution," Stratfor asserted. Indeed, in Syria the UN-sponsored peace process is largely expected to put an end to the five years of violence – not least due to Moscow's unwavering commitment and diplomatic efforts.

    Russian aircraft at Hemeimeem Air Base in Syria
    © Sputnik / Dmitriy Vinogradov
    Russian aircraft at Hemeimeem Air Base in Syria

    If Russia plays a part in resolving the Yemeni civil war, it could then use its leverage in the Syrian peace talks.

    "Since Russia has no real interest in Yemen's politics or future direction, they could instead use the traction they would gain with Saudi Arabia to bend negotiations in Syria to their favor," the analysts explained.

    Stratfor suggested that Russia could offer to "take" Saleh. The alliance between the former president and the Houthis has always been a marriage of convenience and latest developments indicate that the Shia movement is willing to negotiate with Hadi and the Saudis.

    However, according to the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), a non-profit press monitoring organization, Moscow does not plan to invite Saleh to Russia and "would never grant" Yemen's former leader political asylum.

    ​Nevertheless, helping to resolve the Yemeni crisis would be a smart move for Russia. "Yemen's conflict is a chessboard upon which global powers are playing. For Russia, having a piece on the board could be another way to shape the region's dynamics," Stratfor added.

    Related:

    Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Reaches 'Catastrophic Level' - US Aid Group
    Saudi-Led Coalition Helped Regain Control Over 80% of Yemen
    In Syria, Putin Smashes Terrorists Like Kutuzov Smashed Napoleon
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    Tags:
    Saudi airstrikes, Yemen conflict, peace process, ceasefire, Syrian conflict, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Syria, Russia, Yemen
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