The U.S. is slow-walking peace negotiations, effectively pushing for a resumption of the war.

By Ryan Grim, The Intercept

I’ve always thought of the famous John Lennon refrain, “War is over, if you want it,” as mostly a thought experiment meant to shake us out of the learned helplessness that can lead to forever wars. But in the case of the war in Yemen, the war really is over if we want.

Taiz Yemen destroyed by bombings

Everybody else directly or indirectly involved — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Houthis, China, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, etc. — appears to want to put the war behind them. A ceasefire has held for more than a year, and peace talks are advancing with real momentum, including prisoner exchanges and other positive expressions of diplomacy. Yet the U.S. appears very much not to want the war to end; our proxies have been thumped on the battlefield and are in a poor negotiating position as a result.

Reading between the lines, the U.S. seems to be attempting to slow-walk and blow up the peace talks. Triggering a resumption of hostilities would unleash yet another Saudi-led bombing campaign that could win U.S. proxies better terms when it comes to control of the strategically positioned Yemeni coastline. (The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden link the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean at the southwestern corner of Yemen, an area so geopolitically important to the flow of oil and international traffic that the U.S. has one of its largest bases, in Djibouti, across the strait.)

Tim Lenderking, the U.S. special envoy for Yemen, has been offering up particularly pessimistic comments on negotiations. “I don’t expect a durable resolution — and we should not — to the nearly eight-year conflict in Yemen to happen overnight,” he said recently in the region. “A political process will take time and likely face numerous setbacks, but I continue to be optimistic that we have a real opportunity ahead of us for peace.” That sounds nice, but decoding the diplomacy, the most important remark there is the prediction of “numerous setbacks” and the confidence that we “should not” expect “a durable resolution.”

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