Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that progress was being made toward ending the war in Yemen, where Riyadh has led a military coalition, but more work was needed, including restoring a ceasefire or transitioning to a permanent ceasefire. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the eight-year-old conflict can only be resolved through a political settlement.
Al Saud said the kingdom was also trying to find a path to dialogue with Iran as the best way to resolve differences over several conflicts, including the one in Yemen. The Middle East’s leading Sunni Muslim and Shia powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran have for years vied for influence in a rivalry that has played out across the region in events such as the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. Riyadh and Tehran cut ties in 2016 but officials from the two countries have held five rounds of direct talks hosted by Iraq since last year, the last of which was in April, without achieving any diplomatic breakthroughs.
Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, has been devastated since 2014 by the conflict opposing Houthi rebels backed by Iran and pro-government forces supported by a Saudi-led military coalition. On Monday, Grundberg said he was encouraged by what he called an intensification of diplomatic efforts to arrange a new truce in the war there.
But Grundberg said,” the limited military activity along the front lines, unfortunately also resulted in civilian casualties.” A Swedish diplomat warned that such activity combined with negative rhetoric and escalating political and economic measures could spark a new cycle of violence. He called on all parties to “aggressively work to extend the longest period of relative calm we have experienced in the last eight years.”