Russia Can Help Secure Saudi Interests Within the US-Run Yemeni Peace Process
The US proposed that a UN-brokered Yemeni peace process begin by December.
This suggestion caught some observers by surprise who hadn’t counted on the US contradicting its Saudi ally after Riyadh’s almost five-year-long insistence on achieving a “total victory”, but the recent worsening of relations between the two Great Powers after Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made this all too predictable in hindsight, especially because of the embarrassment that a so-called “political compromise” could prove to be for Saudi Crown Prince, Defense Minister, and architect of the War on Yemen Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). That’s actually part of the reason why the US is doing this, other than of course the soft power interest that it has in disingenuously presenting its diplomatic intervention as the only reason why Yemen’s humanitarian crisis doesn’t reach catastrophic proportions despite American backing for the Saudi-led campaign being one of the reasons why the situation has deteriorated as much as it has.
In the realm of “realpolitik”, the US is fully aware that a “political solution’ to the War on Yemen would likely lead to the de-facto partition of the country largely along the lines of its pre-1990 division into a largely autonomous North Yemen and a UAE-influenced South Yemen, possibly legitimized through forthcoming constitutional changes that might promulgate a federal system. The Saudis would doubly lose in that case because they hardly have any influence over North Yemen while it would be risky for them to compete with their Emirati allies in South Yemen, especially when considering that Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) is supposedly MBS’ mentor, so Riyadh would essentially be left with no tangible benefit after spending billions upon billions of dollars on this campaign over nearly the past half-decade. Still, it’s difficult to think of any other scenario for resolving this conflict.
Faced with the fait accompli of their American ally basically backstabbing them with this abrupt turnaround, which despite its Machiavellian intentions is nevertheless a positive step in the direction of seriously ending this war, the most pragmatic recourse that Riyadh has is to seek Russia’s “balancing” services in having Moscow diplomatically intervene as a counterweight to US influence over this process. Russian-Saudi relations are currently at their best-ever level in history, while Russia also enjoys excellent ties with the UAE and Yemen, so it’s sensible to see it play a neutral mediating role within the forthcoming UN-brokered talks, especially considering that the country is also a member of the Security Council. This could prospectively see Russia ensuring the fair interests of each respective Yemeni “half”, as well as the two very close but somewhat competing Gulf Kingdoms, even if it ends up irking Iran.