The Saudi-Houthi Contacts: Nature, Levels, Forms and Prospects

EPC | 19 Apr 2014

Since the early days of the Houthis rise at the scene of events in Yemen, questions were raised in the Saudi circles of political decision-making. These questions were about the available and possible options to minimize Yemen’s subordination to a regional power like Iran. These questions assumed that the threat posed by the Houthis to Riyadh stems from fear that the Houthis might drift into Iran’s orbit; other than that, the movement will remain below the level of real threat to Saudi Arabia and will be contained easily, or at least take precautions against it. Therefore, the past two years has witnessed some contacts between Riyadh and the Houthis. The exchange of messages was done through mediators mostly, while direct meetings were rare. It is likely that Saudi Arabia has realized that if the Houthis do not sever their links with Iran, many problems and complications make such contacts out of the question at least for years to come. But this does not provide enough reasons for Riyadh to stop contacts with the Houthis completely. As a matter of fact, the Houthis’ susceptibility to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, especially on issues related to the security of the Saudi-Yemeni borders, is somewhat a reasonable and acceptable justification to continue a certain degree of contact between the two sides. It is possible that this simple and limited contact could develop and expand to include higher levels and advanced forms, if it achieves good results and was able to accomplish successful security understandings.

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