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  • 20.08.2018

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Saudi prince who started the Yemen war ‘wants to end it’
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20.08.2018

Saudi prince who started the Yemen war ‘wants to end it’

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Newly-leaked emails written by two former top US officials show that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and defence minister Mohammed bin Salman “wants out” of the war he started in Yemen, it is alleged.

Email correspondence from April of this year between Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel and Yousef Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the US, was obtained by Middle East Eye, in which the two discussed their dealings with Prince bin Salman.

Mr Indyk called the Saudi prince a “pragmatist leader” and said that he had been “clear” in meetings with himself and former national security advisor Stephen Hadley that he “wants out of Yemen” and is “OK with the US engaging with Iran,” Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, despite his publicly aggressive stance on both the Yemeni crisis and Tehran. 
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Mr Otaiba did not reply to requests for comment, while Mr Hadley told MEE: “I cannot comment on what was a private conversation.”

The then 29-year-old Mohammed bin Salman attracted criticism internationally for plunging Saudi Arabia into a bloody intervention in the Yemeni civil war in March 2015 aimed at driving Shia Houthi rebels out of the country’s capital Sanaa. 

The Saudi-led bombing campaign and air and sea blockade has left 70 per cent of Yemen’s 27-million strong population reliant on some form of humanitarian aid, 7.3 million on the brink of famine and caused the worst cholera outbreak in modern history.
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The idea that Saudi Arabia is trying to exit its expensive war next door is not a new one, however, co-founder of the Sanaa Centre and non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC told The Independent.

“The real problem, and what no one really can figure [out], is [what does a way out] look like?” he said.

“It might look bad domestically, or to [bin Salman's] allies in Yemen, but is actually good news to spread about him - that he basically he doesn’t want this war but has to [fight it],” Mr al-Muslimi added. 

The UN estimates $2.1bn (£1.6bn) is needed to stop Yemen turning into a completely failed state, but donor governments only pledged half that amount at an aid conference in Geneva in April.

Western governments have also faced criticism for their role in the conflict: arms sold to Saudi Arabia are destined for use in the Yemeni war, rights groups say.
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