A rationale must be given for entering negotiations. An end to the Saudi blockade of the country is a start, but it is the prospect of a power sharing arrangement after these first steps in the process that makes peace talks a possibility. In other words, instead of squabbling with the Houthis over ceasefire conditions, the US should spell out a vision of what a peace settlement could look like.
It is important to understand that with peace negotiations more likely under President Joe Biden than his predecessor, the Houthis are trying to strengthen their position on the ground. This is no fault of the new US administration, it is simply the nature of war and leverage, by no means unique to Yemen or the Houthis.
If peace is to be made, the US should not only address port blockades, but more importantly lay down a framework for serious and credible negotiations. This would best be delivered through a new US-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution to replace that of 2015. It would demonstrate that a failed international framework had been truly jettisoned.
Finally, and to build confidence in a new political process, the resolution should call for all armed activities by all sides to cease simultaneously — with no pre-conditions. The resolution must, therefore, create the conditions for Yemenis to negotiate among themselves, free from outside interference.
Ultimately, it is for Yemenis to decide what a viable power sharing deal would look like. The Yemeni elites must cease their excessive reliance on outsiders to solve their problems and stop blaming them for everything that has gone wrong in the country.
Will this work? There is no guarantee a new UN Security Council resolution will pass regardless of its contents. There is similarly no certainty it would be fully implemented on the ground in Yemen if it were. But by promoting a new text — with new practical rather than old fantastical demands — it would act as a signal of intent: That America is deadly serious about finding new paths to bring peace to the people of Yemen.