The Stockholm agreement was aimed at avoiding a military offensive on Hudaydah and alleviating the humanitarian suffering of the Yemeni people. It could not, alone, bring peace to all of Yemen. This work needs to begin. As work continues to implement the agreement, it is now time to move to a political process to achieve peace throughout Yemen. Yemen can`t wait. Under such a compromise, these territories would not be protected by pre-2014 forces (the government`s declared position) or by the forces there today (the implicit opinion of the Houthis). Instead, the UN could check the current local security forces to ensure that they are professional personnel and that their high-ranking commanders are in the military and security services before 2014. A limited agreement like this could be easier for both sides to accept, since it is a small part of the city`s security forces and a limited part of the city, making the UN review more feasible and avoiding the view that it is a comprehensive and final plan. The Houthis, who fear that a gap between implementation phases 1 and 2 could make ports vulnerable to attacks by forces that, after the first phase of redeployments, would still be north of the city, need assurances from the P5 that the implementation of the first phase would not encourage the government to pursue a military advantage. It may be easier to convince the Houthis, now that the UAE has partially withdrawn from the Red Sea coast. After the talks on Sweden, the fight for Hodeida quickly turned into a competition to define the terms of the agreement.
Government officials argued that the deal should include a total withdrawal from the Houthis, with the government taking control of the ports and the city. [fn] Crisis Group interview, senior Yemeni government official, Riyadh, March 2019. Shortly after the talks ended, a government official called the Stockholm agreement „Mini 2216,“ a reference to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 of 2015 calling for the Houthis to withdraw and transfer weapons. Crisis Group Interview, December 2018.Hide Footnote The Houthi interpretation was another interpretation: a redeployment of the front forces, with the ports and the city, currently secured by the city`s police and coastguards – many of whom are affiliated with the group – with minor changes in their direction, including the supervision of Houthi guards and some oversight of the UN. U.N. officials involved in mediating the agreement say the Houthi version is closest to the compromise agreed in principle in Sweden, but acknowledge that the opaque language of the agreement has created an openness to rival interpretations. [fn] Crisis group talks, UN staff involved in the negotiations, December 2018 and March and May 2019. At the time of the Stockholm negotiations, the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Crisis Group was a member of the negotiating team while seconded to the UN. Hide Footnote Basically, the agreement is a work-free measure that aims to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and not an agreement to address the longer-term issue of sovereignty.
[fn] Ibid.Hide Footnote An investigation by each side of the agreement suggests that international attention to discoveries on serious international crimes and human rights violations in Yemen played a role in influencing the parties` actions to accept the conditions and conditions they ultimately agreed to in Sweden.