What started months ago in Yemen as a peaceful standoff between President Saleh and protesters seeking his removal has taken a tragic turn. The standoff is now spiraling toward civil war. There are reports of street battles and lives lost in the capital city of Sanaa.
People are fleeing the city. When violence strikes, hunger and sickness are quick to follow as basic necessities inevitably become shortages.
Violence will solve nothing for Yemen. Both sides, Saleh’s forces and the opposition, have to show restraint. What is needed now more than ever in this crisis is calm and cooler heads. Only a peaceful, negotiated settlement with President Saleh leaving office is the answer.
A civil war will only plunge this already suffering country into depths from which it may never recover. A civil war would leave a legacy of death, destruction, chaos, and starvation for millions. The leaders of both sides can go this route and share that legacy — or they can choose a road to peace.
If the road to peace is chosen at this critical time, there will be guides along the way. That is where the international community will come in with a new policy toward Yemen, one more sympathetic to the people’s needs. No longer will hunger and poverty, the biggest threat facing the country, be ignored.
It is up to Yemen to first choose peace and dialogue, and that is where we stand at this moment.