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52-Iran destabilizing Nabarno Karak

Valiyev, 12-18, 22, Dr. Cavid Veliyev is Head of Department of the Center of Analysis of International Relations, Is Iran Seeking a New Proxy War in the South Caucasus?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/iran-seeking-new-proxy-war-south-caucasus-206030

A New Front in the Caucuses Tehran, which thinks that the geopolitical balance in the region has changed against its interests after the Second Karabakh War, seems to have pushed diplomacy and cooperation into the background, especially over the past two years, and has instead brought military plans to the fore. The IRGC, which is especially active in the Middle East, is trying to achieve comparable effectiveness in the South Caucasus region. In August, the IRGC confirmed that it was conducting a joint drone exercise with the armies of Russia, Armenia, and Belarus at Kashan Air Base. Revolutionary Guard Aerospace General Ali Babali reported that the exercises, held within the framework of the 7th UAV competition, lasted for two weeks. Seventy personnel from four countries participated in this exercise. It was later revealed that UAVs supplied to Russia from Iran were used in the Ukraine war. Further on, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard held military exercises along the Araz river on the border with Azerbaijan. This exercise, codenamed “IRGC Ground Force’s Might,” covered the East Azerbaijan and Ardabil regions. Mock heliborne parachute operations, night raids, helicopter combat operations, and suicide drone operations were carried out during the first day of the exercises. Construction of a temporary bridge over the Aras River that separates Iran from Azerbaijan and Armenia, seizure and control of supply roads and heights, and offensive, as well as destructive operations against designated targets, constituted other parts of the drills. After the IRGC’s exercises, on October 20, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Armenia as the head of a delegation. During his visit, Abdullahian participated in the opening of the Kafan consulate, where he said that “the security of Armenia is our security.” A few weeks later, the former ambassador of Iran in Azerbaijan, Mohsin Pakain, said that these exercises were aimed at protecting Armenia against Azerbaijan. Former Commander of the IRGC and top military aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Yahia Rahim Safavi, stated on October 18 that twenty-two countries in total, including Armenia, had submitted official requests to purchase Iranian-made UAVs. After this, it was revealed that twenty-seven Iranian citizens went to Karabakh, which is Azerbaijani territory, between November 26 and 30. Azerbaijani political activists appealed to Iran’s Baku embassy to make a statement about this unauthorized visit. As the Iranian embassy did not respond, the Azerbaijani press put out the news that Iran had supplied 500 Dehlavieh and 100 Almas missiles to Armenia. These missiles were previously seen in Yemen and Libya, but were intercepted before reaching non-state actors there. It was reported that these missiles were supplied to Armenia by the Al-Kuds branch of the IRGC, which is the organization’s de facto “manager” of Iran’s proxy wars in the Middle East. At the same time, Tehran maintains support for proxy groups of pro-Iranian Azerbaijani citizens. Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev demanded in April of this year the extradition of twenty-two Azerbaijani citizens who were officially operating in Iran against Azerbaijan under the name of Huseyyniyun, which was created and supported by the IRGC Quds Force. Then, in August, the prosecutor general of Azerbaijan visited Iran and presented his counterpart with a list prepared by Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies. It is reported that this list includes persons who make threats against the state structure of Azerbaijan. To this day, however, Iran has yet to extradite these people, and Iranian officials have indirectly made it known that they will never be deported to Azerbaijan. Iranian officials, including former diplomats and experts, claim that, after the Second Karabakh War, the effectiveness of NATO, the EU, and Israel in the South Caucasus has increased, through Azerbaijan in particular. Iranian authorities, seeking to counter this supposed situational change, have openly declared that they will not allow such to continue, and are considering arming Armenia, training and arming the separatists in Karabakh for proxy warfare, and supporting pro-Iranian groups in Azerbaijan as a solution. Russia is also involved, for it allows Iranian personnel to enter the Karabakh region illegally. All this only serves to further destabilize the South Caucasus, at a time when the region is of increasing importance to global energy security, supply chain diversification, and more.

51-Turkey wants Russian mediation [not US mediation]

Modern News, 12-17, 22, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2022/12/17/erdogan-proposed-trilateral-mechanism-with-russia-and-syria/, Erdogan proposed trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (photo) said he proposed to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin establishing a trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria and to hold a leaders meeting, primarily for discussions on the security issues. “As of now, we want to take a step as Syria-Türkiye-Russia trio,” Erdoğan told journalists. “First our intelligence agencies, then defense ministers, and then foreign ministers could meet. After their meetings, we as the leaders, may come together. I also offered this to Mr. Putin. He also viewed it positively. Thus, we will start a series of negotiations,” he added. Erdoğan earlier said he had not ruled out a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although the two countries have been regional foes since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Erdoğan emphasized that the terror threat posed by the YPG (a militia in Syria made up of Kurdish community fighters) from Syria is “another issue that needs to be taken quickly.” “Terrorist organizations must not rest comfortably in Syria, especially in northern Syria. From time to time, they threaten and provoke our country from there, they do everything,” he said.

50-Russia supports Turkey’s request

Arab News, 12-17, 22, Moscow welcomes Turkiye’s call for trilateral Syria diplomacy, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2217256/middle-east

Moscow on Friday welcomed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal to establish a three-way mechanism for diplomacy between Turkey, Russia and Syria, Russian state news agencies reported, citing a deputy foreign minister. The RIA Novosti news agency also reported that Syria’s position on the idea – which could involve a summit between the leaders of the three countries – was not yet known, but that Moscow was in contact with officials in Damascus.

49-Turkey doesn’t trust the US

Fillis, 12-16, 22, Constantinos Filis is the director of the Institute of Global Affairs and associate professor at the American College of Greece. A new book in Greek titled “The Future of History,” edited by Filis, is currently in stores, The West hypnotized by Erdogan, https://www.ekathimerini.com/opinion/1200306/the-west-hypnotized-by-erdogan/

For months now, tough negotiations have being under way between Turkey and the United States in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust but also of mutual understanding that a rupture in their relations is not in the interest of either party. The fact that Turkey is about to enter an election year, the difficulties faced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mainly due to the state of the economy, and his need to win the elections at all costs create problems as well as limitations in their consultations.

The problems exist because Ankara is irked about Washington’s actions which it considers to be demonstrably against Turkey’s interests. This is intensified by the belief that Americans don’t like Erdogan – hence the alleged attempt to “get rid of him” with the failed coup in 2016and that the US continues to undermine him by supporting the Syrian Kurds and a change of policy in relation to Greece. In Erdogan’s domestic narrative, the US is usually demonized and accused of attempting to destabilize the regime in order to rally a mainly nationalist audience and justify a departure from Western norms.

Besides, Erdogan does not want to be held captive to the decisions and choices of third parties, and because of the war in Ukraine he is trying to a gain a greater degree of flexibility, even in aggressive actions such as those against the Syrian Kurds. He also wants to be allowed to lash out against Greece without cost, cultivating an anti-Greek climate in his country, embellishing the agenda of Turkish claims, burdening relations with a country that is supposed to be an ally, and threatening to “come suddenly one night.”

48-Turkey wants to launch an incursion into Syria against US-backed forces

RFI, 12-17, 22, https://www.rfi.fr/en/podcasts/international-report/20221217-turkish-military-incursion-in-syria-faces-opposition-from-us-russia, Turkish military incursion in Syria faces opposition from US, Russia

Turkish military forces are poised to launch a ground offensive in Syria against US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, accused by Ankara of attacks on Turkey. But Ankara is facing stiff opposition from both Washington and Moscow. Turkish security forces blame the Syrian Kurdish YPG for carrying out a series of recent attacks against Turkey, including in Istanbul, a charge the group denies. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday that Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last month’s deadly bomb attack in a bustling street in Istanbul. Ankara also accuses them of being linked to PKK insurgents fighting in Turkey.

47- Armenia shelling Azerbaijan

Azer News, 12-18, 22, https://www.azernews.az/nation/203740.html, Armenia shells Azerbaijani positions in Kalbajar & Tovuz directions of border

On December 16, starting from 1200 to 1350 local time, using various calibers of weapons, units of the Armenian armed forces stationed in the direction of Musurskand of Tovuzgala (Tavush) region and Yukhari Shorzha (Verin Shorzha) settlement of Basarkechar (Gekharkunik) region shelled positions of the Azerbaijani army in Aghdam settlement of Tovuz and Zaylik settlement of Kalbajar districts, Azernews reports per Defense Ministry. Moreover, members of the illegal armed formations in Karabakh, where the Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed, periodically subjected to fire the Azerbaijan army positions stationed in the direction of Khojavand District at 1305 local time on December 16.

46-Russia can’t stop Azerbaijan from being aggressive

Haoyu “Henry” Huang, 12-17, 22, Modern Diplomacy, Russia Incapable in Facilitating Armenia-Azerbaijan Talks, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2022/12/17/russia-incapable-in-facilitating-armenia-azerbaijan-talks/

Moscow still sees itself as a critical player in the Caucasus region.  The ongoing crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region allows Russia to participate in Caucasus affairs. Moscow organized Sochi Summit for Baku and Yerevan for direct talks. The ongoing crisis in the Caucasus has also become a hot topic at the CSTO summit.  Russia seems to remain an influential power and a peace mediator for the Caucasus.

However, Russia’s desire to become the peace broker in the outer Caucasus region is merely a fantasy.  Due to the ongoing Ukrainian war, Russia lacks the power to project and credibility.  Armenia, a close ally of Moscow, is also slowly distancing itself from Moscow, thus making Russia’s vision even harder to achieve.  Furthermore, the outside powers, especially Turkey, have grown significantly more substantial, further eroding Russia’s influences in the region and, therefore, the chances of facilitating peace talks.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has gone far beyond the expectation of Moscow.  While Ukrainians bravely defend their homeland, Russia’s seemingly almighty war machine is deep in a predicament.  Moscow calling for partial mobilization further reveals its dire situation.  Russia’s military failure also shook the foundation of Russia’s power projection, as the world now sees Russia as weaker than ever before.  The recent incident of Azerbaijani blocking the road towards Karabakh is a vital sign that Russia is losing its grip over the Karabakh region.

To make matters worse, Russia’s military actions in Ukraine also triggered a diplomatic tsunami.  Putin’s speech alerted all the former Soviet countries, further depleting Russian credibility.  Meanwhile, the war diverted essential resources and ruined the formidable image of Russian troops.  Azerbaijanis are now taking more aggressive actions in Karabakh after the war, while Karabakh residents have already questioned the effectiveness of Russian peacekeeping forces even before the war.  On all fronts, Moscow’s credibility in mediating peace has eroded.

45-Armenia wants US support to resolve the Karabkah issues

Haoyu “Henry” Huang, 12-17, 22, Modern Diplomacy, Russia Incapable in Facilitating Armenia-Azerbaijan Talks, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2022/12/17/russia-incapable-in-facilitating-armenia-azerbaijan-talks/

At the same time, Armenia has also been seeking outside support beyond Russia.  The visit of Speaker Pelosi of the US has given Armenians hope that the country could be supported by outside powers other than Russia.  Yerevan has also tried to seek rapprochement with Turkey, a historical adversary.  Armenia was invited to the Antalya Security Conference, and the Foreign Minister of both countries met and discussed normalizing the relationship.  These are all clear signs that Armenia seeks other sources to solve the long-lasting Karabakh issues, thus making Russia’s presence less relevant.

44-A Turkish incursion into Syria undermines the war against ISIS

The Hindu, 12-17, 22, Dangerous gamble: On Turkey’s attacks on Syrian Kurds, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/dangerous-gamble-the-hindu-editorial-on-turkeys-attacks-on-syrian-kurds/article66271141.ece

Turkey has carried out several incursions in the past into Syria, gobbling up territories now manned by the Syrian National Army, a rebel umbrella group that is opposed to Damascus and backed by Ankara. But, Turkey had also come under pressure from the U.S., its NATO partner that backs a YPG-led militia group, and Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, which placed constraints on its operations. However, Russia’s Ukraine war seems to have altered the geopolitical reality in the region in Turkey’s favour. A preoccupied Russia would not like to antagonise Turkey, which despite being a NATO member has not joined the U.S.-led sanctions, and the U.S. would want Ankara’s support for the inclusion of Sweden and Finland into NATO. This opens space for Mr. Erdoğan to up the ante in Syria. But this could be a dangerous bet. The IS had captured most of these border towns in 2014-15. The YPG, with U.S. help, had fought hard against the IS to liberate the region. Now under attack, the YPG has already said it would end patrolling of many towns on the border. A Turkish incursion could trigger further chaos, which could help Islamist militants to regroup and push the Kurdish population, already victims of years of wars, into further misery

43-Turn: Diplomacy has brought the Houthis more time to increase aggression

Zimmerman, 12-16, 22, The Hill, Katherine Zimmerman is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and advises AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Congress missed an opportunity to ask the right questions on Yemen, https://thehill.com/opinion/international/3772765-congress-missed-an-opportunity-to-ask-the-right-questions-on-yemen/

The Biden administration has leaned heavily into diplomacy to help end Yemen’s war. Stopping the fighting to set conditions for the United Nations to negotiate a resolution have been key aims. U.S. efforts were key to the diplomatic breakthrough in April that yielded a UN-brokered truce, but that truce has only bought the Houthis time to further consolidate power in northeast Yemen. Moreover, while they have extracted concessions, the Houthis have yet to follow through on terms to which they agreed. Still, UN and U.S. officials continue to hope that they can translate ongoing talks into a viable resolution to the conflict. What no one has articulated is how negotiations today, when the Houthis have the upper hand, would lead to any semblance of an acceptable resolution for the Yemeni people and for U.S. interests.

42-US has no leverage over the Houthis to get them to stop fighting

Zimmerman, 12-16, 22, The Hill, Katherine Zimmerman is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and advises AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Congress missed an opportunity to ask the right questions on Yemen, https://thehill.com/opinion/international/3772765-congress-missed-an-opportunity-to-ask-the-right-questions-on-yemen/

What sources of leverage short of armed force does the U.S. hold over the Houthis to encourage them to negotiate in good faith? The Houthis remain empowered in Yemen, allowing them to make maximalist demands. They are militarily strong. Even should Iran stop supplying the Houthis with weapons — and there are no signs of this occurring — the Houthis have an enormous stockpile, which Iran continued to add to during the six-month truce period, that ensures they can carry on their fight. The Houthis are further emboldened by messaging from Congress against Saudi Arabia and mixed signals from the international community demanding they back down from their current positions but criticizing any resumption of fighting that might weaken the Houthis. Sanctions have had little impact, as have public exhortations for the Houthis to make necessary concessions for peace.

41-It’s in the US national interest to end the war in Yemen because it will disrupt shipping

Zimmerman, 12-16, 22, The Hill, Katherine Zimmerman is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and advises AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Congress missed an opportunity to ask the right questions on Yemen, https://thehill.com/opinion/international/3772765-congress-missed-an-opportunity-to-ask-the-right-questions-on-yemen/

Yemen’s conflict is complex and mostly out of the news, making it difficult to follow and even more difficult to evaluate the administration’s messaging on the conflict. Not to add that for most Americans, Yemen and its issues have again fallen off the map. Yemen’s location south of Saudi Arabia along the Bab al Mandab, a strategic maritime choke point, means the United States has a permanent interest in ensuring that developments within the country do not threaten maritime security or the stability of the Gulf

40-2/3 of the population needs food assistance

David Minden & Laura Good, 3-16, 22, https://madison.com/opinion/column/david-minden-and-laura-good-end-u-s-support-for-war-in-yemen/article_932af4fc-c20e-58f6-91da-6d180db72b51.html, David Minden and Laura Good: End U.S. support for war in Yemen

The war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen has caused great civilian suffering since it began eight years ago, with an average of almost 10 raids with hundreds of bombs per day, according to the Yemen Data Project. Furthermore, the Saudis have imposed blockades of ports and airports, keeping food and heating oil out and sellable crude petroleum in. This has caused civilian deprivation and starvation, with more than two-thirds of the entire population of 29 million in need of food assistance, according to the International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies.

39-Without US arms Saudi Arabia’s planes couldn’t fly

David Minden & Laura Good, 12-16, 22, https://madison.com/opinion/column/david-minden-and-laura-good-end-u-s-support-for-war-in-yemen/article_932af4fc-c20e-58f6-91da-6d180db72b51.html, David Minden and Laura Good: End U.S. support for war in Yemen

The U.S. supplies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with weapons, airplanes, fuel, parts and intelligence that have allowed them to conduct the raids and blockades, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The roots of this war are complicated, but one thing is clear: Without tires and parts from the U.S., the Saudis’ bombers wouldn’t fly.

38-A child dies in Yemen every day

David Minden & Laura Good, 12-16, 22, https://madison.com/opinion/column/david-minden-and-laura-good-end-u-s-support-for-war-in-yemen/article_932af4fc-c20e-58f6-91da-6d180db72b51.html, David Minden and Laura Good: End U.S. support for war in Yemen

A truce beginning in April should have opened the airports and seaports, but the Saudi-led coalition has allowed only a trickle of ships and planes through. Food, fuel, medicine and clean water are scarce. Eight years of this catastrophic strangling of the goods necessary for life has resulted in tragedy: every 10 minutes on average, a child in Yemen dies from a preventable cause, including starvation, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This year, the World Food Program found 2.2 million children under 5 needed treatment for acute malnutrition. Last year, the U.N. estimated 377,000 died from the war, the majority indirectly from hunger and disease.

37-US pressure on Saudi Arabia will end the war

David Minden & Laura Good, 3-16, 22, https://madison.com/opinion/column/david-minden-and-laura-good-end-u-s-support-for-war-in-yemen/article_932af4fc-c20e-58f6-91da-6d180db72b51.html, David Minden and Laura Good: End U.S. support for war in Yemen

At this very moment, the U.S can make pivotal moves to stop the killing and starvation. First, political pressure by the U.S. can make a difference in the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression. Saudi air raids have decreased when U.S. public opposition is most vocal, according to reports by the Quincy Institute. Efforts by bipartisan groups in both the U.S. House and Senate to promote a new Yemeni War Powers Act likely encouraged the Saudis to enter the recent truce. So the U.S. ending all support for the war, which is not a threat to our borders, should stop the war, according to experts.

36-Cutting arms sales to Saudi Arabia empowers the Houthis, Saudis want to end the war

Trita Parsi, MSNBC Opinion Columnist, 12-16, 22, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/yemen-biden-war-powers-resolution-bernie-rcna61893, While MBS undermines America, Joe Biden has his back on Yemen

Few people noticed, but the United States Senate came very close to ending America’s complicity in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen earlier this week. But the very same person who had vowed to end that war intervened and stopped the Senate from taking action — President Joe Biden. The White House feared that the Senate resolution would have emboldened the Yemeni Houthi movement. But Biden may have instead signaled the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) that, even as he continues to undermine the United States, America still has his back.

The war in Yemen has a special characteristic. Opposition to it is one of the few things that Republicans and Democrats can find some agreement on. At a time when partisanship is at an all-time high, Congress has passed several resolutions calling for an end to America’s support for that war. The last war powers resolution that passed in 2019, which would have forced an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, was vetoed by Donald Trump. All Democrats in the Senate voted for it, as did several Republicans.

It was that same war powers resolution — with some modifications — that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tried to put to a vote this week. One main difference compared to the 2019 version of the resolution was that “sharing intelligence [with Saudi Arabia] for the purpose of enabling offensive coalition strikes” was now also defined as a form of participation in hostilities…. The White House appears convinced that the Saudis are genuinely seeking an exit from the war and worries, as a result, less about a scenario in which the war is restarted by the Saudi side. I share their assessment that Saudi Arabia currently wants out of the war. But that can change as realities on the ground in Yemen evolve. The point of the resolution is to make sure that the fate of America’s involvement in the war is not determined by the Saudis.

35-Economic collapse and expanding humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Trita Parsi, MSNBC Opinion Columnist, 12-16, 22, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/yemen-biden-war-powers-resolution-bernie-rcna61893, While MBS undermines America, Joe Biden has his back on Yemen

Despite the substantial reduction, even the near cessation of military offensives between the Houthi armed group and the Saudi-UAE-led coalition, and especially following the October 2 expiration of a UN-brokered truce, Yemen today is far from peaceful. In fact, a state of “no war, no peace” currently prevails, while the country suffers from an economic collapse and an escalating humanitarian crisis consisting of scant food supplies, health problems, unaddressed trauma, and widespread displacement.

34-Truce doesn’t protect children

DEBBIE MOHNBLATT/THE MEDIA LINE Published: DECEMBER 16, 2022, War in Yemen kills 4 children every day but safety requires more than a truce, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-725093

Yemeni Ambassador Mohamed Qubaty, a former minister who held the tourism and information portfolios in the Yemeni cabinet, told The Media Line, “The overall suffering of the children of Yemen has continued to be the same and never actually changed over time since the beginning of the talks of the so-called truce,” he says. “The people of Yemen need to raise awareness regarding the criminal practices of recruiting children to the war effort, besides debunking all corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency of the Yemeni government officials and their mishandling of all the international aid received,” Ambassador Mohamed Quabaty Kendall explains that children in Yemen die not only because of violence directly caused by the active war; the danger comes from many different directions. It’s not just a result of airstrikes, which have subsided in recent months, but starvation, lack of access to clean water, the destruction of health facilities, and the spread of preventable diseases,” she says. “Even during the truce, children continued to be killed by landmines,” she adds. She says that although the truce expired in October, airstrikes have not yet resumed with the previous intensity. However, “children continue to be killed, maimed, exploited, and traumatized by a whole range of ongoing factors, from landmines to diseases and child recruitment,” she says. Qubaty stresses that the Yemeni people must oppose child recruitment. “The people of Yemen need to raise awareness regarding the criminal practices of recruiting children to the war effort, besides debunking all corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency of the Yemeni government officials and their mishandling of all the international aid received,” he says.

33-Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions increasing

Reuters, 12-16, 22, Tensions flare between Armenia and Azerbaijan over blocked transport route, https://www.euronews.com/2022/12/16/armenia-azerbaijan-lachin-russia

TBILISI –Russia expressed concern on Thursday over escalating tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan as a key road linking Armenia to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave remained blocked for the fourth day. The two countries have fought repeated wars over Nagorno-Karabakh – internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but home to about 120,000 ethnic Armenians – since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. As recently as September, more than 200 soldiers were killed in a flare-up of fighting. A group of Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists blocked the Lachin corridor, the only land route for people, goods, food and medical supplies to reach Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia across Azerbaijani territory, at the start of this week. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday that the closure of the passage was a “gross violation” of a 2020 peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan and that the population of the enclave had been made into hostages. Armenia says the protesters have been dispatched by the Azerbaijani government in an attempt to block Armenia’s access to the region. Baku rejects those claims, saying the dispute is over illegal Armenian mining in Nagorno-Karabakh. The standoff is a test of Russia’s authority as the main security guarantor in the region at a time when its struggles in the war in Ukraine risk undermining its top-dog status among former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

32-Need expanded diplomacy; the current truce has failed

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

The most recent UN-brokered truce expired on October 2 after the Houthis and the IRGY failed to reach an agreement on its renewal. Subsequent peace talks have also stalled. The Houthis continue to launch both conventional and drone attacks against civilian and vital economic targets in Yemen. Occasional fighting also continues between the IRGY’s forces and the UAE-backed STC. Meanwhile, escalating economic warfare between the Houthis and the IRGY is further exacerbating the country’s dire humanitarian situation, and Yemen continues to be ranked as one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.

31-Food insecurity will increase in Yemen

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

More than half of Yemen’s population of nearly 30 million are expected to experience a high level of food insecurity by the end of the 2022 due to multiple impacts of the conflict, including still-rising levels of internal displacement (with over four million people already internally displaced) and a collapsing economy, and due also to disastrous flooding and other effects of climate change. One key factor, though, has been the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on global wheat supplies, including supplies to Yemen, since until recently Russia and Ukraine supplied nearly 45 percent of Yemen’s imported wheat.

30-Attempt to revive Yemen peace agreements in the status quo

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

As new attempts to revive collapsing peace settlements are coming to the fore, the IRGY’s role in them continues to weaken. An exchange of visits in October between delegations from Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, which occurred without the presence of any IRGY officials, represented an unprecedented step in the course of the conflict, and raised questions about the possibility of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic acknowledgement of the Houthis as the de facto authority in northern Yemen.

29-Houthis refuse to compromise

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

The Houthis continue to be one of the truce’s biggest beneficiaries, as most of their conditions have been met, including ending the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes and the closure of Sanaa International Airport. However, the group refuses to compromise in return. It remains reluctant to end its siege on Taiz Governorate, which was one of the truce’s terms, and in fact is trying to maximize its gains by setting conditions for peace, such as having the IRGY pay salaries to public sector workers, including Houthi security and military forces. Houthis have long been described by both Yemen experts and international diplomats as spoilers of peace. US ​​Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, for example, notably stated on December 6 that the Houthis were the ones who are “walking away from peace.”

28-Peace with Houthis mean the Houthis recharge

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

The cessation of large-scale fighting between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition that opposes it has enabled the group to recharge, reorganize, strengthen its military capacity, and train its fighters. And news reports came out in June revealing that the group is increasingly recruiting children to build up its forces during the truce, despite its pledge to the UN that it would stop the practice. Meanwhile, several separate incidents occurred during the truce wherein marine shipments carrying Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis were confiscated by authorities. In November, the US Navy said that it had seized more than 70 tons of rocket and missile fuel on a ship bound for Yemen, signaling that the Houthis are still continuing to prepare for conflict.News reports came out in June revealing that the Houthis are increasingly recruiting children to build up their forces during the truce, despite their pledge to the UN that they would stop the practice.

27-Azerbaijan cutting gas supplies to the Nagorno-Karabakh region

Simon Maghakyan, 12-15, 2022, Simon Maghakyan is a visiting scholar at Tufts University and a Ph.D. student in Heritage Crime at Cranfield University. He writes and speaks on post-Soviet memory politics and cultural erasure, and facilitates global conversations on protecting Armenian heritage, History Suggests This Winter Could Be Dangerous for Armenians, https://time.com/6241293/armenia-azerbaijan-winter-war/

Wintertime is peace time, or so goes the conventional wisdom in the South Caucasus. This thinking is being challenged this week: On Tuesday, in cold temperatures, Azerbaijan reportedly suspended again the gas supply to Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed Armenian-populated region, amid an already ongoing blockade. With E.U. monitors set to depart on Sunday the borderlands that Azerbaijan attacked three months ago, the populations of Nagorno-Karabakh and all of Armenia are left pondering the next moves of Azerbaijan’s dynastic president Ilham Aliyev.

26-Growing risk of Azerbaijan-Armenia war

Simon Maghakyan, 12-15, 2022, Simon Maghakyan is a visiting scholar at Tufts University and a Ph.D. student in Heritage Crime at Cranfield University. He writes and speaks on post-Soviet memory politics and cultural erasure, and facilitates global conversations on protecting Armenian heritage, History Suggests This Winter Could Be Dangerous for Armenians, https://time.com/6241293/armenia-azerbaijan-winter-war/

All of this makes this winter an extra dangerous one for Armenians. In addition to this week’s suspension of Nagorno-Karabakh’s gas supply and the ongoing blockade, satellite images suggest a military build-up around Armenia’s internationally recognized borders. Aliyev must know that his opportunities for regional opportunism are shrinking, and would do so even more if his key enabler, Erdogan, loses the election. Despite continuing negotiations, Armenia appears to be expecting a war any moment. But it, and stability-seeking powers, should not let their guard down just because it’s winter. After all, following the late 2020 war, when Erdogan’s and Aliyev’s forces held “the most comprehensive” winter military drill, close to the borders of Armenia, they tested exactly 218 different types of weapons for a reason: to match the artillery count at Sarikamish.

25-Azerbaijan will only agree to peace if it takes over Nagorno-Karabkh

Simon Maghakyan, 12-15, 2022, Simon Maghakyan is a visiting scholar at Tufts University and a Ph.D. student in Heritage Crime at Cranfield University. He writes and speaks on post-Soviet memory politics and cultural erasure, and facilitates global conversations on protecting Armenian heritage, History Suggests This Winter Could Be Dangerous for Armenians, https://time.com/6241293/armenia-azerbaijan-winter-war/

To solidify the narrative that only an Aliyev-led Azerbaijan can be secure and victorious, the senior Aliyev seems bent on delivering a “peace deal” by Jan. 1, in which Armenia would officially consent to Nagorno-Karabakh being part of Azerbaijan and would cede a sovereign corridor, which would accomplish Enver’s Pan-Turkist dream of connecting Turkey and Azerbaijan via uninterrupted land.

24-Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict undermines the delivery of humanitarian aid

MASSIS Post, 12-15, 22, https://massispost.com/2022/12/hearing-on-u-s-policy-towards-caucasus-highlights-armenia-azerbaijan-peace-process/, Hearing on U.S. Policy Towards Caucasus Highlights Armenia & Azerbaijan Peace Process

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), emphasized that she has a “significant Armenian American community” in her district, and that many of her constituents are “deeply and personally connected to the continuing conflict.” “Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh continue to face an acute humanitarian crisis, including threats of renewed attacks and chronic shortages of water, energy, healthcare and food,” she noted, to which Secretary Donfried replied that access to Nagorno-Karabakh is limited, “which impacts U.S. ability to engage and undertake in assistance programs.” Despite limitations, however, the “U.S. has sought to help those impacted by the conflict, many of whom are in Armenia.”

23-Cessation in fighting means the Houthis violate rights

AFRAH NASSER, 12-15, 22, Non-resident Fellow, Arab Center, Yemen in Limbo: No War, Yet Still No Peace, https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/yemen-in-limbo-no-war-yet-still-no-peace/

The Houthis’ fortified military capacity is evidently fueling their gains, and they clearly have no plans to stop. In addition to carrying out drone attacks on the IRGY’s ports, in December the group threatened any foreign oil and gas companies operating in Yemen if they looted “the wealth of the Yemeni people.”

More tragically, the cessation of large-scale fighting creates a favorable environment for the Houthis to continue waging their parallel war on personal liberties and basic human rights. And indeed, the lull has enabled them to shift their focus toward escalating their political oppression. In November, the group announced a new code of conduct binding all civil servants working in the public sector in Houthi-controlled areas, one that has been met with widespread rejection because of the limits it places on the right to freedom of speech and opinion, and to freedom of mobility. The new code also imposes the group’s sectarian ideas on society. Additional repressive Houthi regulations include restrictions on university professors to prevent them from working in private universities and enforcing the male guardianship rule for women traveling inside the country and abroad. Kendall explains that children in Yemen die not only because of violence directly caused by the active war; the danger comes from many different directions. “It’s not just a result of airstrikes, which have subsided in recent months, but starvation, lack of access to clean water, the destruction of health facilities, and the spread of preventable diseases,” she says. “Even during the truce, children continued to be killed by landmines,” sh

22-Yemenis depend on humanitarian assistance to survive

Hunt, 12-14, 22, Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary, FACING HOUTHI VICTORY IN YEMEN, US CHANGES TACTICS, https://fpif.org/facing-houthi-victory-in-yemen-us-changes-tactics/

The Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention sparked a massive humanitarian crisis that continues to this day. The situation in Yemen remains “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to the United Nations. An estimated 80 percent of the population requires humanitarian assistance just to survive.

21-Yemen war has killed 400,000

Hunt, 12-14, 22, Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary, FACING HOUTHI VICTORY IN YEMEN, US CHANGES TACTICS, https://fpif.org/facing-houthi-victory-in-yemen-us-changes-tactics/

At a congressional hearing last week, U.S. officials lamented the current state of affairs in Yemen, as they reviewed the grim consequences of the war.

Sarah Charles, an official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told Congress that nearly 400,000 people have died in the war, mostly as a result of hunger, sickness, and inadequate health care. “Children are the primary victims of this war,” she said.

20-Truce increases humanitarian assistance

Hunt, 12-14, 22, Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary, FACING HOUTHI VICTORY IN YEMEN, US CHANGES TACTICS, https://fpif.org/facing-houthi-victory-in-yemen-us-changes-tactics/

The truce has brought several benefits to the people of Yemen. Since its implementation in April, civilian casualties have sharply declined. More people have received humanitarian assistance. Despite the fact that the truce lapsed in October, several of its main elements remain in place, including a major reduction in hostilities.

19-Stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia forces a truce

Hunt, 12-14, 22, Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary, FACING HOUTHI VICTORY IN YEMEN, US CHANGES TACTICS, https://fpif.org/facing-houthi-victory-in-yemen-us-changes-tactics/

It remains unclear whether the Biden administration has been using the truce to buy time for the Saudi-led coalition or establish a foundation for ending the war. Reportedly, the administration has been reconsidering its ban on sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. Its sense of betrayal by the Saudi regime over an alleged deal on oil production may stall future cooperation, however.

Congressional opposition to more U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia may tie the administration’s hands. Congress could invoke the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in the war, leaving the Saudi regime with no option but maintaining the truce and working toward a negotiated settlement.

“As we look forward, we want to get back into the truce,” Lenderking insisted at last week’s hearing. “There are important back-channel conversations that are happening between the parties that are helpful to this process. But… we are not there yet.”

18-Turkey preparing to assault the YPG in Syria

O’Brien, 12-14, 22, Erin O’Brien is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul., Foreign Policy, Will Waging War in Syria Save Erdogan?, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/12/14/war-syria-turkey-save-erdogan/

In Syria, the United States, Turkey, and even in Russia, fears are mounting that Turkey could launch a full-scale military operation on its embattled neighbor at any moment. On Nov. 27, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told military commanders on the Iraqi border that Turkey was ready to “complete the tasks” of his government’s operation against the People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria, indicating Turkey’s readiness to launch a ground offensive in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself said his forces would “come down hard on the terrorists from land at the most convenient time,” reiterating his conviction to building a “security corridor” in Syria along the Turkish border—something he specifically mentioned in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin last weekend.

Tensions turned to escalation on Nov. 13 when a bombing on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street, a popular shopping area, killed six people and reportedly injured 81 individuals. The Turkish government blamed the bombing on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and livestreamed the arrest of the Syrian woman responsible for the attack; the PKK, for its part, denied involvement in the bombing. One week later, Turkey launched Operation Claw-Sword, a series of missile attacks on Kurdish bases across northern Syria and Iraq.

17-Israel engaging in strikes in Syria

TIA GOLDENBERG, December 14, 2022, AP News, Israeli military chief suggests Israel behind Syria strike, https://apnews.com/article/iran-israel-syria-3cb2f1119bd6106160905c6a671b57e4

Israel’s military chief of staff strongly suggested on Wednesday that Israel was behind a strike on a truck convoy in Syria last month, giving a rare glimpse of Israel’s shadow war against Iran and its proxies across the region. Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Israeli military and intelligence capabilities made it possible to strike specific targets that pose a threat.  Without those capabilities, he said, a recent strike would not have been possible. “We could have not known a few weeks ago about the Syrian convoy passing from Iraq to Syria. We could have not known what was in it, and we could have not known that out of 25 trucks, that was the truck. Truck No. 8 is the truck with the weapons,” Kochavi told a conference at a university north of Tel Aviv.

16-Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions increasing, EU monitoring being eliminated

Azetum, 12-13, 22, EU To End Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Monitoring,    https://www.azatutyun.am/a/32174526.html

The European Union has decided not to extend a two-month monitoring mission launched by it along Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan in October. The decision made by the foreign ministers of EU member states at a meeting in Brussels was announced by Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, late on Monday. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Charles Michel reached an agreement on the mission at an October 6 meeting in Prague. It came three weeks after large-scale border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces left more than 300 soldiers dead. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said as recently on December 6 that the 40 or so civilian monitors deployed by the EU to the Armenian side of the border have “really limited the risk of escalation” and should continue their work “as long as it is needed.” However, Borrell made clear that the mission will end as planned on December 19. He gave no reasons for the 27-nation bloc’s decision not to extend it. It is not clear whether the Armenian government requested such an extension. Senior Armenian officials last week praised the monitors but did not clarify whether Yerevan asked the EU to keep them deployed longer than was originally planned. Tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the “line of contact” in and around Nagorno-Karabakh have remained high since September, with the conflicting sides regularly accusing each other of violating the ceasefire. The monitoring team’s reactions to the truce violations remain unknown.

15-Iranian arms transfers to Armenia increase war risks

Dr. Yasif Huseynov, 12-11, 12, Modern Diplomacy, Armenia and Iran combine forces against Azerbaijan, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2022/12/11/armenia-and-iran-combine-forces-against-azerbaijan/

In early December, the Azerbaijani media reported about free of charge military supplies of Iran to Armenia amidst the growing tensions between Azerbaijan and Islamic Republic. According to the reports, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) provided 500 units of the Dehlavieh anti-tank missile system and 100 units of Almas system to Armenia at the end of October. These supplies took place amidst the military exercises the Iranian army carried out along the borders with Azerbaijan for the second time since the end of the Second Karabakh War of 2020 – Iran never conducted military drills along the Azerbaijani borders before this war. Along with these, Azerbaijani media published evidence confirming that Iran also sends military personnel to the separatist Armenian forces in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan that is currently under the temporary control of the Russian peacekeeping units. They are reportedly supposed to train the Armenian separatist forces who regularly carry out terrorist and sabotage attacks against the Azerbaijani army. Although Iran has always, since the post-Soviet independence of Azerbaijan, treated Armenia as an ally against Azerbaijan and even provided military and economic backing to Armenia’s occupation of the Azerbaijani territories in the early 1990s, Baku sought to keep these hostilities down and tried to build good neighborly relations with the Islamic Republic. A number of factors affected this decision of the Azerbaijani government, including the presence of more than 20 million ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran as well as Baku’s efforts to establish friendly relations with the neighboring countries and ensure the Iranian leaders that Azerbaijan did not pose any threat to the Islamic Republic. Towards this end, the Azerbaijani government even quietly reacted to Tehran’s support to the radical religious groups inside Azerbaijan by cracking down only on these groups without challenging the country’s broader relations with Iran. This curtain was lifted between Baku and Tehran following Azerbaijan’s liberation of its occupied territories from the Armenian occupation. Although the Iranian leaders repeatedly relate their “concerns” with Azerbaijan’s alleged plans (in particular, the “Zangazur corridor” transportation route) to cut off Iran-Armenia border by occupying the southern territories of Armenia, these statements do not sound convincing. There are assurances not only by Azerbaijan but also Armenia’s another ally Russia that these transportation routes do not envisage the occupation of anyone’s territories, and they will remain under the sovereignty of the respective transit country. Iran’s aggressive rhetoric and military flexing against Azerbaijan shoot up against the background of Azerbaijan’s decision to open an embassy in Israel and Turkiye’s growing influence in the South Caucasus. In this context, Iran’s narratives resemble those of Russia against Ukraine. In a similar vein, Iranian leaders question Azerbaijan’s independence and its ethnic identity, claiming that Azerbaijan was a historical part of Iran and should return to the Iranian control. One of the latest such claims was made by Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Ali Fadavi, who, in a tweet, reiterated these historical claims against Azerbaijan saying that this country “was separated from Iran due to the incompetence of the Qajar kings”. Attempting to take the advantage of the Shiite believers in Azerbaijan, he openly called for a government change in Baku. “The people of Azerbaijan are Shiite believers who did not lose their original Shiite beliefs under the 70 years of communist pressure. As a rule, there should be a government that pays special attention to this Shiite majority of Azerbaijan”, he added. Thus, Iran, building active cooperation with Armenia in military and economic fields, poses a great threat to the national security of Azerbaijan. In response to these threats, Baku boosts its ties with the major allies of the country, in particular, Turkiye and Israel. Hence, over the last two months, Baku held two major military exercises along the borders with Iran which, according to President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, aimed to “to show that we are not afraid of them”. While the first round of these exercises was held exclusively by the special forces of Azerbaijan in early November, the second round was conducted at much larger scale and together with the Turkish armed forces in early December. These joint exercises included also a response to the most provocative element of the Iranian military drills – employing phantom bridges to cross the river that forms the natural border between Azerbaijan and Iran in most sections of the interstate border. Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who joined his Azerbaijani counterpart to supervise the exercises, voiced strong support to Azerbaijan, declaring that any threats or provocations against Turkiye and Azerbaijan is considered as directed against both countries. In parallel to demonstrating military confidence of Azerbaijan in response to the Iranian threats, Baku has also become more outspoken against the repression of the fundamental rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis under the Iranian control. Addressing an international conference in Baku on November 25, President Aliyev criticized the lack of Azerbaijani language schools in Iran while there are those in the languages of other ethnic minorities, vowing that his country will do its best to protect all Azerbaijanis across the world, including those living in Iran. That said, the aggressive rhetoric and expansionist claims of the Iranian leaders dramatically threaten peace and security in the South Caucasus. In this context, Armenia’s alignment with Iran in this power game and the de-facto military alliance they build against Turkiye and Azerbaijan run the risk of triggering a major conflict in the region with catastrophic consequences for the local peoples.

14-Three reasons Houthis oppose a truce

Fatima Abo Alasrar, 12-9, 22, The Houthis’ embargo on Yemen’s oil exports, https://www.mei.edu/publications/houthis-embargo-yemens-oil-exports

The Houthis’ rejection of the truce with the Yemeni government was based on three fundamental factors. The first is the rebels’ inability to fulfill their obligations under the agreement to lift the siege on Taiz because their control over the city keeps pressure on their opponents and gives them increased leverage in any peace negotiations. The second is a lack of interest in the peace process itself as the current status quo gives the Houthis access to Yemeni resources without committing to a power-sharing agreement that could threaten their monopoly over the war-torn country’s northern territory. The third is a desire to return to violence as swiftly as possible because this tactic had proven to give them the upper hand in negotiations in the past. Within 48 hours of the truce’s expiration, the Houthis’ military spokesperson warned Saudi and Emirati oil workers to leave the country while the militant group prepared its attack.

13-China solves the Yemen war

SAEED AL-BATATI, 12-8, 22, China can help bring end to Yemen war, says official, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2213186/middle-east

RIYADH: Yemeni experts and officials have called on China to do more to help bring an end to the country’s civil war by helping peace talks and by increasing economic and humanitarian aid.

“Yemen needs China’s assistance,” Najeeb Ghallab, undersecretary at Yemen’s Information Ministry and a political analyst, told Arab News.

“Achieving peace in Yemen is in China’s interest because it will revitalize Yemen’s ports, which would aid China’s Belt and Road Initiative and open the nation to Chinese businesses.”

His comments come as Rashad Al-Alimi, the leader of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, is traveling to Riyadh to attend an Arab-Chinese summit on Friday.

Ghallab said that can press Iran to cease supplying and funding its proxy militias across the Middle East, including Yemen. “China can persuade Iran to stop supporting its organizations, particularly the Houthis in Yemen,” he said.

The UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg’s efforts to end the war have come to a standstill after the Houthis refused to extend a ceasefire that ended in October, and threatened to strike oil infrastructure in regions under government control.

The Houthis have said they would not extend the ceasefire until the government pays public workers in regions the group controls.

12-Truce key to preventing Saudi air strikes

Shelline & Tayyab, 12, 5, 22, Annelle Sheline is a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Her research focuses on religion and politics in the Middle East; Hassan El-Tayyab is an author, songwriter, and the legislative director for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation., About the Truce in Yemen, https://inkstickmedia.com/what-congress-needs-to-know-about-the-truce-in-yemen/

Because violence has not significantly escalated and specific aspects of the truce remain in place — flights from Sana’a to Amman continue, and ships continue to unload fuel at Hodeidah port — the case of Yemen may appear less urgent. However, without the truce, there is no formal mechanism preventing the Saudis from restarting airstrikes, ending flights, or once again preventing fuel ships from docking at Hodeidah.

11-US using diplomacy to push for peace in Yemen

US Department of State, November 28, 2022, https://www.state.gov/u-s-special-envoy-for-yemen-lenderkings-travel-to-oman-and-saudi-arabia/, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Lenderking’s Travel to Oman and Saudi Arabia

U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking started travel on November 27 to Oman and Saudi Arabia to support ongoing peace efforts. The environment created by the UN-mediated truce presents the best opportunity Yemen has had for peace in several years. At this critical moment, we remind the Houthis that Yemenis are calling for peace, not a return to war. To that end, we call on the Houthis to immediately cease their attacks on Yemeni ports, which are disrupting the flow of much-needed resources and exacerbating suffering across Yemen. Such attacks only risk plunging Yemenis into another pointless cycle of violence and suffering. We urge the Houthis to instead seize this opportunity for peace, cooperate with the UN, and accept that the only path forward to ending eight years of destructive war is through a negotiated, inclusive Yemeni-led political settlement.

10-Truce revival key to the delivery of humanitarian aid

National News, 11-28, 22, Return of truce is vital to Yemen as global food and energy crises take toll, https://www.thenationalnews.com/opinion/comment/2022/11/28/how-the-un-has-deepened-the-yemen-crisis/

Yemen nervously awaits signs that a truce involving all main factions can hold, despite a failure to renew it after the most recent deadline expired. The truce is absolutely vital, not least because the main drivers in Yemen are now shaped by the fallout from the 2018 Stockholm Agreement as well as the global energy and food crisis. Those living in Yemen are left to grapple with a cascading set of dire daily realities. The failure to achieve peace and restore the national government throughout the country is something to be squarely laid at the feet of the UN. The agreement was badly rolled out. One of the pillars of the Stockholm Agreement was the Hodeidah Accord, which opened up the Red Sea port and associated road routes to ensure that food and other flows could increase to ease the threat of famine. Last week, Anis Al Sharafi of the Aden-based Southern Transition Council (STC), which is a partner with the national government, set out how what looked like a viable solution was, in fact, twisted by the implementation. By overriding the safeguards on how trade and revenues are freed up, Houthi commanders and checkpoints were granted a gatekeeper. The consequences have been downplayed. The outcome is an escalatory cycle, according to Mr Sharafi, that has granted the Houthi leadership “infinite” military and political capacity. With its new space within the context of conflict, the Houthi leadership has taken the opportunity for a stand that is stubborn and prolonging. “Maybe on the surface it looks like you might have a variable solution, but typically giving [the advantage] to one side causes the problem to become more complicated,” he said in Aden. The failure to achieve peace is something to be squarely laid at the feet of the UN Rising oil prices have given the Houthi leadership and its backers in Iran more cause to block an overarching solution in Yemen. As another Yemeni last week observed, the seas around the country’s coast are the main route for energy exportation to Europe and the Houthis are trying to take advantage of this vantage point. Escalation along that route is obviously something that European countries are very alert to, and the regimes hostile to the West are just as alert to the advantages of disruption of those corridors. Iranian efforts to have another coast to launch attacks on the tanker lanes to Europe are holding Yemen hostage. This, for the Iranian leadership, is a potential pinch point that would allow Tehran to exercise pressure through escalation. At a time when Iran’s internal dynamic is one of siege by the opposition demonstrations, this gives Tehran an external card to play to ensure that the international community does not support the regime’s opponents. For the wartime administration in Yemen, this is a dire squeeze. This is particularly as the people who have fle the oppressive situation in Sanaa or the hardships across the frontlines wait fora return to their properties or towns in dire straits. “On top of our own population, we have more than 3 million refugees from the north and we have more than a million that have come from Africa,” said the STC representative. “Although there is pressure on our resources, the aid that is given by the international community is given to refugees. Whereas our own people who are suffering from this extra pressure are not getting anything.”

9-US needs to diplomatically reengage in the Middle East, especially in Syria, where the US needs to be engaged to stop Turkish aggression

Yanis E. Makhlouf, 8-13, 22, The Diplomatic Retreat of the US in the Middle East, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2022/08/13/the-diplomatic-retreat-of-the-us-in-the-middle-east/

To fill the void, regional powers like Turkey are stepping up their diplomatic efforts, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. Similarly, the US seems increasingly set aside the Syrian situation. Bashar Al-Assad’s visit to the UAE a few months ago, the first to any Arab state since the start of the Syrian civil war was a major development from which the US seemed rather absent apart from some diplomatic objections towards its Emirati ally.

The dynamics of the region have changed greatly in the past twenty years and though America’s presence especially militarily has been considerably reduced, American leadership is still needed. The War in Syria is a case in point with the question of America’s support for the Kurds in the northeast of the country. Leaving the issue unresolved and the Kurds to their fate do not seem like a good solution. It could incite Turkey to engage in further advances in the Syrian north, which in turn, could stoke great tensions with the Al-Assad clan, the Russians and Iranians.

It is time for the current administration to recognise that it has a Middle East problem and address the failures of its foreign policy. Not doing so could leave a dangerous opening to other powers like China or Russia that will do their utmost to court America’s Middle Eastern partners to gain their good graces and snatch them away from the US’ sphere of influence.

8-US leadership in the Middle East needed to prevent a rise in China’s influence

Yanis E. Makhlouf, 8-13, 22, The Diplomatic Retreat of the US in the Middle East, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2022/08/13/the-diplomatic-retreat-of-the-us-in-the-middle-east/

The dynamics of the region have changed greatly in the past twenty years and though America’s presence especially militarily has been considerably reduced, American leadership is still needed. The War in Syria is a case in point with the question of America’s support for the Kurds in the northeast of the country. Leaving the issue unresolved and the Kurds to their fate do not seem like a good solution. It could incite Turkey to engage in further advances in the Syrian north, which in turn, could stoke great tensions with the Al-Assad clan, the Russians and Iranians.

It is time for the current administration to recognise that it has a Middle East problem and address the failures of its foreign policy. Not doing so could leave a dangerous opening to other powers like China or Russia that will do their utmost to court America’s Middle Eastern partners to gain their good graces and snatch them away from the US’ sphere of influence.

7-Understanding the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflictRadio Free Liberty, 8-9, 22, Turkey Warns Armenia Against ‘New Provocations’ Over Nagorno-Karabakh, https://www.rferl.org/a/turkey-warns-armenia-provocations-nagorno-karabakh/31979795.html

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Internationally mediated negotiations with the involvement of the OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States — failed to result in a resolution before war broke out again in September 2020. In the aftermath of the war that killed more than 6,500 people, Armenia agreed to hand over three districts ringing Nagorno-Karabakh that had been under Armenian control since the 1990s, including the Lachin corridor, and Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the truce.

6-Reducing Middle East diplomacy increases war risks that suck in the US military and divert resources from Asia

Brandon Morgan June 7, 2022, The Imperative of Middle East Regional Order and U.S. Diplomacy, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2022/6/7/the-imperative-of-middle-east-regional-order-and-us-diplomacy

Indeed, U.S. ambivalence towards recent Iran-backed Houthi strikes against Saudi and Emirate oil facilities suggest that Washington is ready to accept broader strategic disengagement from the region, come what may. But strategic disengagement from the Middle East to focus on China and a war-bound Russia will likely come at high cost for Washington. Indeed, without a U.S.-supported Middle East security architecture, the long simmering tensions could erupt into a firestorm of region wide conflict inevitably requiring American military intervention to prevent an oil crisis or  renewal of transnational terrorism. This would completely undermine Washington’s desire to pivot strategic focus towards the Indo-Pacific. But insuring against negative outcomes in the Middle East—the region of traditional U.S. focus—also provides the opportunity for the rise of positive outcomes in economic growth and institutional development. This would not only provide positive trade benefits for the U.S., but it would also promote an American friendly regional order while limiting the growing influence of China and Russia. Fortunately, the tools to prevent strategic crises and promote Middle East regional growth lie increasingly less in military capacity and more in the realm of diplomatic and economic engagement. This excess of military capacity in the Middle East could prove highly valuable in the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Europe.

Establishing a Middle Eastern security architecture centered on a balance of power is crucial to American interests in ensuring uninhibited movement of global trade and energy resources. Importanly, the relationship between Iran and the Arab-Israeli coalition is central to ensuring this regional order and stability. But the current American strategy of diplomatic disengagement coupled with unabated conventional arms buildup of Gulf Arab partners only serves to exacerbate regional tensions.

5-Diplomacy will reduce the Iran threat over the long-term

  1. Brandon Morgan June 7, 2022, The Imperative of Middle East Regional Order and U.S. Diplomacy, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2022/6/7/the-imperative-of-middle-east-regional-order-and-us-diplomacy

Indeed, Iran’s economy grew by 13.4% in 2016—all before full sanctions relief implementation, strongly suggesting that Iran stands to benefit from a renewed deal.[11] But it is important to remember that although Iran has long maintained its asymmetric and ballistic missile capabilities, the scale and severity of attacks against strategic oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Persian Gulf came after U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018. This suggests that while Tehran is not likely to surrender the Revolutionary Guard and proxy-force funding in the short term, it is possible for the U.S. to establish a security dialogue that minimizes regional tensions and builds momentum for further diplomatic victories in the long term.

A regional security architecture in the Middle East must be founded on reassurance to Arab-Israeli partners, continued deterrence against Iran, and good faith negotiations. The U.S. should revitalize its diplomatic engagement with Arab-Israeli partners. Importantly, this requires astute diplomacy that recognizes that a general pivot to other regions does not equate to complete strategic disengagement from the Middle East. The U.S. should reassure its Arab-Israeli partners that the American government will diplomatically support the coalition against attacks by Iran while offering economic assistance in the aftermath of Iranian strike

4-Effective Middle East diplomacy needed to free-up resources to complete the Asian military pivot

Brandon Morgan June 7, 2022, The Imperative of Middle East Regional Order and U.S. Diplomacy, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2022/6/7/the-imperative-of-middle-east-regional-order-and-us-diplomacy

While such a regional order may seem far-fetched, the U.S. government would at least benefit significantly from renewing its geostrategic appreciation of the Middle East. Importantly, this focus should rely on diplomacy and economics as the primary instruments to achieve a stable balance of power and regional order. The likely alternative of escalating tensions, expanded conflict, and abdicating American regional influence to strategic competitors would only serve to further erode U.S. geopolitical strength in the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, Washington will have to undertake a concerted effort to renew progress towards a Palestinian-Israeli resolution to achieve broader regional stability. The U.S. will also have to consider the implications of recognizing disputed territory—such as the Western Sahara as part of Morocco, and the Golan Heights as part of Israel—with America’s assertion that military force should not be used to rewrite borders, as in Russia’s occupation of Crimea. A physical equilibrium must match its moral counterpart. As Henry Kissinger remarked in Diplomacy, a regional balance of power “reduces the opportunities for using force” while “a shared sense of justice reduces the desire to use force.”[15] Indeed, if there is any hope to complete the Indo-Pacific military pivot, the U.S. must commit to restore world class diplomacy in the Middle East.

3-US should expand the use of diplomacy in the Middle East to resolve conflicts

 Tamara Cofman Wittes, Former Brookings Expert, 2021, What to do – and what not to do – in the Middle East, https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do-in-the-middle-east/

For over a decade, the United States has sought to wind down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, reduce its military footprint in the Middle East, and redirect scarce resources to Asia. Global and regional trends reinforced this American desire to reduce the priority of the Middle East in its global strategy, and the military “pivot” is well underway. The challenge for American policy is how to protect its remaining and still important interests in that region in an era of austerity and fierce power competition, both in the region and globally. The incoming Biden administration should not waste the window for a reset.

Gulf Arab partners, facing fiscal constraints from lower energy prices and the COVID-19-induced global recession, are more open to conflict resolution in the proxy wars they hagve been fighting across the region. But their relative penury will also impede their ability to invest in stabilizing weaker neighbors, including key states like Jordan and Egypt. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Iran is sanctioned to the hilt, and used to wielding regional influence on the cheap. Thus the balance of power in the region may even favor the Iranians as the pandemic begins to recede. The Biden team must set aside the Trump administration’s fruitless “maximum pressure” in favor of the mix of intelligence cooperation, diplomacy, financial and military tools that can effectively deter or disrupt subversive Iranian activity while incentivizing Tehran’s return to the nuclear negotiating table.

And the Pentagon must undertake a zero-based review of its force presence in the Persian Gulf region to ensure it is both efficient and effective in fulfilling its core missions there.

The United States must rebuild what has historically been its most effective tool in the Middle East: diplomacy, especially in advancing conflict resolution. In Yemen and Libya, there might now be opportunities to pull competing regional powers out of the fighting and negotiate power-sharing governments that promote stability and reduce freedom of action for Islamist terrorist movements. Washington cannot let Israelis and Palestinians stew in their stalemated conflict — but rather than trying to reconvene talks, it should take a long-term approach to rebuilding foundations for compromise between the two societies while insisting that they both abjure destabilizing unilateral actions, and work to improve freedom, security, and prosperity for those living with the conflict every day…. As the United States works to reduce the heavy military focus of its regional policy, it needs to beef up its diplomacy to tamp down other regional conflicts that give troublemakers like Iran and Russia opportunities to grow their influence.

2-US diplomacy can resolve the Yemen conflict

Tamara Cofman Wittes, Former Brookings Expert, 2021, What to do – and what not to do – in the Middle East, https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do-in-the-middle-east/

The Yemen conflict offers the most opportunities for the United States to encourage a path toward conflict resolution. Both the Saudi and Emirati leaderships have begun to recognize that the price they are paying for their involvement in the conflict has grown higher and unsustainable. They have not only failed to achieve their goals, they have also profoundly undermined Yemeni and regional stability, to the benefit of Iran and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

1-Diplomacy will get other actors to reduce their support of the Yemen war

Tamara Cofman Wittes, Former Brookings Expert, 2021, What to do – and what not to do – in the Middle East, https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do-in-the-middle-east/

The Houthis might take egregious actions to capture Saudi territory, attack Saudi infrastructure, or cause significant Saudi casualties. But barring such escalation, the United States can helpfully expend some diplomatic energy by encouraging external actors to reduce their involvement in the war, support the negotiations process under U.N. auspices, and by discouraging unhelpful actions by its regional partners. Such an effort is vastly complicated by the reckless decision of the Trump administration in January 2021 to designate the Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization.

 

 

West Asia Daily News – DebateUS

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