The prisoner exchange agreement made recently between Sana’a (Houthis and their partners) and the pro-coalition factions (legitimate government and other factions) in bilateral negotiations in Jordan, following the negotiations in Sweden (2018), exceeded its duration of implementation, amid signs that opportunities for its implementation have diminished as differences rages within the forces of “legitimacy Is it fading like another agreement, or does Sana’a have other ways to end the suffering?”.
In December 2018 in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, the Yemeni parties signed a comprehensive prison exchange agreement, and then hold multiple bilateral consultations, under the auspices of the United Nations to solve the obstacles, the last was before weeks ago in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Last Friday, 3 April 2020, the deadline set by the United Nations was to respond to Sanaa’s statements regarding the prisoners. According to what has been reported by the member of the Supreme Political Council in Sana’a, Muhammad Ali al-Houthi. But the response was delayed, and it was hope to have a response at Saturday. However, so far there is no official response. All that is contradictory statements that reflect the amount of differences within Hadi factions, specifically Islah and Hadi himself.
This is clearly evidenced by the campaign launched by supporters of Yemeni Islah Party (the Brotherhood of Yemen) recently; to demand the disclosure of Islah party leader fate, Muhammad Qahtan, before the party formally issued a statement demanding from United Nations to intervene in order to release him.
All what concern the party in the agreement is to release its leaders that are not included in the last agreement as the head of the Prisoners Committee in Sana’a team, Abdul Qadir Al-Murtada, says. All of the party’s recent moves are mainly in response to Hadi, who stipulated the release of his brother; this was agreed upon during the Jordan meeting, according to Al-Murtada.
The agreement stipulates the release of 1,400 prisoners in two phases, The first includes approximately 1,000, including 700 fighters from Sana’a, and the second 400 prisoners from both sides.
For Sanaa, who is trying to end the suffering of its fighters in the prisons of its enemies, the file of the prisoners is important. Over the successive stages of the negotiations, several initiatives have been presented, and it has no problem, as it appears from the statements of its leaders in implementing a comprehensive agreement to release all prisoners. On the contrary, Hadi government seems not ready for that, through its leaders’ contradicting statements.
A member of the legitmcy team in the prisoners’ negotiations, Majed Fadail, although he participated in the Jordan negotiations sponsored by the United Nations. He knows the details of the agreement, went on his last statement to require the release of leaders not included in the agreement. Allegedly, the names given by Sana’a were “missing”.
Perhaps the reason for the Hadi government’s inability to manage the prisoners ’file, although it is important even to many of its affiliates, is for several reasons, not the first of which is the multiplicity of factions. Each of them has private prisons. The prisoners are used as pressure cards to pass its agenda, such as Tariq Saleh in the West Coast, who calls for the release of his family members and Islah party in Taiz and the same in Marib, as well as the transitional council and many of the factions that preferred direct field negotiations and succeeded in concluding agreements.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and UAE keep many prisoners and through them they try to impose their conditions, to release of Saudi, Emirati, Sudanese and other soldiers and officers of various nationalities. Sana’a has always revealed many of them.
These dilemmas within Hadi’s streams of regional loyalties, pushed his information minister to disavow the last agreement, stipulating the principle of “all versus all” with no care about the inability of his government or its negotiating delegation in determine the affiliation of any party that holding the prisoners.
Disagreements are not the only ones that afflicted the prisoners’ agreement; also, the choose of Tariq Saleh this timing to execute a prisoner, as Sanaa accuses him increases the complexity of the sensitive file. Paying for more obstacles on his way. However, Sana’a seems to be the only one who control its file and able to overcome problems with papers of its own, says Al-Murtada. Perhaps the first of them is a return to the field agreements that succeeded last year, in the conclusion of dozens of them and the release of hundreds of its fighters, away from coalition accounts and the struggle of its followers.