This article appeared in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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What superpowers can do

Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters
Shoppers crowd a market in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen, Dec. 19. A cease-fire went into effect in the port city this week.

Hind Aleryani was desperate for someone to do something. Yes, the rebels who had taken over her native Yemen were worrisome. They “do not represent the civil state I dream about,” the award-winning journalist wrote in The Washington Post. But the effort to drive them out had become, if anything, worse.

Civil war had turned her country into “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations secretary-general. An estimated 50,000 children died of starvation last year. One group estimates that a three-year-old in Yemen has lived through 18,000 air raids across the country.

Then, this week, something happened. Talks led to the declaration of a cease-fire in a crucial port city Tuesday. The hope is that it could be a first step to peace.

What happened? Basically, the United States said enough is enough. For four years, it had tolerated Saudi Arabia’s role in the war. The Saudi determination to oust the rebels – who have ties to archenemy Iran – led to wanton devastation. In recent weeks, the Senate has signaled a tougher line with its ally.

Ms. Aleryani longs for an opportunity to reestablish “education and beautiful societal values that wither away every day due to war.” The cease-fire is a reminder of the levers that the world’s most influential countries often have to support that, if they choose to.

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This article appeared in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/19 edition