19.04.2015 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Who Heats Up the Yemeni Conflict?

7655643333With the development of another bloody conflict in Yemen, it becomes quite evident that peace in the Arab Peninsula has become history. To all appearances, there hails another re-division of the Arab states in this region, Saudi Arabia in the first place.

It is common knowledge that the power in the Kingdom has been delegated from father to son, starting with Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, who created the very Saudi Arabia and willed to his sons to peacefully settle all issues related not only to succession to the throne, but to all what’s happening in the Arab Peninsula, the cradle of the Arab nation. And up to the present time it has been like that. And if all the former rulers tried to resolve all problems, both domestic and external, peacefully and to more or less keep their heads down, the present King Salman, presumably due to his advanced age exercising significant influence on the perception of the reality, has decided to resort to arms, following the example of his overlord, the USA.

Riyadh, seeing itself as the decisive force in this region, took it upon itself to establish its dictatorial order in neighboring Yemen, opting only for massed bombing so far. Highly ‘experienced’ Saudi and other Arab pilots who took sides with them, in the absence of normal Yemen air defense, are bombing only large-scale targets – cities, settlements, villages, and demolish infrastructure that is bad enough in itself. According to the global mass media, these promo bomb attacks inflict little harm to the Houthis, but the number of killed civilians keeps growing. Since the beginning of the barbaric bomb attacks, according to the data of the World Health Organization, 648 people have been killed, of which there are 77 children, and another 2,191 have been wounded. Besides, WHO warns about outbreaks of such diseases as measles, brain fever and typhoid fever. As UN Humanitarian Coordinator Johannes Van Der Klaauw notes, schools, medical establishments, markets, power stations and other elements of civil infrastructure are seriously damaged as a result of bomb attacks.

In the opinion of Alexander Mercouris, British legal affairs analyst, in the situation with Yemen the foreign policy steps of the Saudi’s main protector – Washington indicate that the USA and their allies consider themselves to be entitled to neglect the rules and international laws. Drawing a parallel between the overthrow of the former President of the Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014 and the overthrow of President of Yemen Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in February 2015, A. Mercouris points out a number of similar features: both politicians called their overthrow illegal, and later they fled to the neighboring countries. At the same time the expert draws attention to the fact that in the first case Russia refused to help Yanukovich to forcefully regain his presidency, while the Saudi Arabia decided to use such force to restore the powers of the Yemen ex-President.

The USA who consider themselves the ruler of the world but in fact are a giant with feet of clay will not allow Iran to interfere with the course of the military conflict in Yemen, as declared by Secretary of State John Kerry. According to his words quoted by Reuters, Washington is well informed about the support which Iran renders to the Houthis militants who drove Yemen President Mansur Hadi away from the country. “We are not looking for confrontation. But we’re not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened as a consequence of the choices that Iran might be making,” declared J. Kerry in a TV interview. The State Secretary stressed that the USA would support the Middle East countries threatened by Iran. Previously, the United States Deputy State Secretary Antony Blinken stated that Washington had stepped up weapons shipments to the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries that had been bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen. In other words, Washington, as usual, seeks to add fuel to the fire and to organize a new trouble spot.

But in this case both Saudi Arabia and the United States of America as always are making a big mistake, having decided to establish their order in Yemen by force. Even the English in olden times failed to establish their order in that country and managed only to take over the most importamt port in the region, Aden. Yemeni tribes have never surrendered to any aggressors, and all the more so, they have always successfully fought against the Saudis. And now, being under continuous bomb attacks, blocked in arms delivery, they successfully repulse the Saudis’ attacks and even counterattack. In the north of the country the rebels from Tahia tribe captured the Al-Manar frontier post controlled by the Saudi Arabia’s army. The rebels captured all armored vehicles and weapons. They committed the assault upon the military after the Saudi army soldiers had killed several tribe members in a gun fight. In the skirmish several frontier guards were killed. Others fled inland. The Saudi Arabia Air Force carried out several airstrikes at the checkpoint, but the Tahia militants still retain control over the border point.

Command representative of the so called Arab Coalition, Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri declared that Saudi Arabia and its allies were preparing to start an inland operation and were waiting ‘for a proper moment’. He noted that the operation became ‘more and more intensive’: there were up to 120 daily air missions. Since the beginning of bombardments, air strikes were delivered upon 1,200 ground targets.

Clearly enough, the air strikes alone are not enough to defeat Houthi rebels, and sooner or later, in accordance with the military schemes, Riyadh will have to conduct an inland operation. But here a question arises: who exactly will participate in these battles? The Saudis, according to the incoming information, have already completely mobilized about 150,000 soldiers and officers. Cairo and Islamabad promise to send a certain number of soldiers. But the Saudi army has absolutely no practice in conducting operations, and Egyptian and Pakistani contractors, if they appear on the Yemen territory, will not be eager to sacrifice their lives for the sake of some Saudis’ calculations. Besides, if they enter the Yemen territory, they will face not a classic war, but guerrilla operations in which all the Yemenis will participate. In the opinion of the Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Mansour Hagigatpur, Saudi Arabia “has rushed into a shady undertaking and, certainly, will suffer a defeat.”

Iran, which is a very interested party in the events in this region, has many a time called for an end of air strikes and for a dialogue in Yemen. “Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Yemen and its innocent population is a mistake, the country’s head and the spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared in his televised address. – It’s a crime and genocide, for which the prosecutors should be taken to international courts.” President of Iran Hassan Rouhani also criticized the Saudi-led Arab coalition, declaring that they repeated the same mistakes made in other parts of the Arab world where Riyadh tried to impose its hegemony by force.

Under these circumstances, Moscow will do its best to prevent the Yemeni conflict escalation into a new hot war where everyone is against everyone. “We must prevent it from degrading into a Sunni-Shiite confrontation, noted Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. – Practically from the very beginning of the Arab spring we have warned about the danger of such split inside Islam, but we were not heard, maybe, they did hear us, but did not want to take it into account. But those who are now deliberately steering the situation to escalation, exactly to hot and forceful escalation, of antagonism between the Sunnis and Shiites, assume a tremendous responsibility. We will not allow this.”

Viktor Mikhin, member correspondent of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.