Saudi military aggression against Yemen should be stopped immediately, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. Moreover, Ban Ki-moon stressed the fact that he sees no solution to the military conflict in Yemen. The UN press statement says that the UN Secretary General called for an immediate ceasefire and the expansion of humanitarian efforts in Yemen, along with the settlement of all differences in positions through a broad dialogue and negotiations.
As many may know, in January of this year the military wing of the Houthis movement – Ansar Allah seized the country’s capital – Sana’a forcing president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to first seek refuge in Aden. Since March 26, on Hadi’s own request, without any support from the international community, Saudi Arabia and its satellites launched air raids against Yemen and then invaded the territory of this neighboring state.
According to the UN, Riyadh’s aggression has led to severe civilian casualties – more than 2100 people have been killed, while the majority of the population – a total of 21 million people, have found themselves in desperate need of food, medicine and other essential goods. The death rate among minors has tripled in the short period from March to August 2015 if compared with the entire previous year, noted Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric. UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui described the situation with children living in Yemen as “beyond the scope of the tragedy.” She said that more than 400 children have been killed and more than 600 injured in Yemen from March to August.
An outrageous war crime that would have earned those responsible for it a spot at the Nuremberg trials, was the bombing of a wedding ceremony in the village of Vahidzha near the town of Al-Mokha. Saudi pilots murdered 131 people in broad daylight, including women and children, which Saudi rulers must have considered extremely dangerous terrorists that threaten the security of the Saudi kingdom. But to this day US President Barack Obama has failed to condemn brutal Saudi aggression in Yemen, encouraging impunity among American allies while trampling international law.
In addition, ISIL units are gaining strength in Yemen due to the financial support of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia (KSA). They have started to carry out operations in this country. According to Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the portal Pan-African News Wire, radical Islamists are enjoying strong support in Yemen. Abayomi Azikiwe is also convinced that the Saudi coalition had access to US intelligence reports throughout its operations. Additionally, Saudi regular forces cooperated with the militants of the so-called Southern Movement in a successful attempt to recapture Aden which was being held by the Houthis.
In addition, a coalition of Saudi troops actually shared control of the southern Yemeni cities with militants of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), without ever challenging them. Detachments of this terrorist group entered the city of Zinjibar and Aden in southern Yemen and shared control over these areas with the troops of the Saudi coalition. Residents of this port city puzzled Reuters reporters with claims that the city was flooded with militants fighting under a black banner once the Houthis left. All this can be explained quite simply. AQAP militants and the troops of the Saudi coalition are not allies, but while in desperate need to launch an offensive into the central part of the country, the Saudis decided to make an agreement with these terrorists and give them control of the southern cities.
Lately Saudi rulers, knowing that their troops are unlikely to be able to score any victories on the filed of battle, have called for the help of extremely proficient Egyptian soldiers. A number of news agencies reported the transfer of at least 800 Egyptian servicemen along with armored vehicles to Yemen. Yet, it might be said that Egyptian troops were forced to come to Yemen, as they initially refused supporting Saudi Arabia at the initial stages of its military intervention in Yemen. However, the purchase of the French Mistral ships on the money provided by the UAE and the ongoing rearmament of Egyptian troops sponsored by the Saudi royal family forced Cairo to take part in the war. It is quite clear that Egyptian military personnel won’t be eager to die for this cause, and will instead hold their ground where they must.
Lately military experts have been voicing concerns that the Saudi military intervention in Yemen has every chance to backfire, plunging the kingdom into a hostile environment. If one is to take a look at the map, we can see that toward the north of the KSA the Islamic State is waiting for a chance to launch an attack against it, in the east the KSA has problematic areas with predominantly Shia populations that are critical for Saudi oil production, and they can start a revolt at any given moment. Neighboring Bahrain has been struggling to contain a smoldering crisis for a while now too. The majority of local people are Shia’a who rebelled against Sunni power during the so-called “Arab Spring”. Saudi regular troops that entered the country to restore order have managed to stop the revolution in Bahrain, but the dissatisfaction of the people has remained. Thus, the situation in and around Saudi Arabia remains unstable, and in the foreseeable future it may reach a boiling point due to the struggle amid local elites and the intensification of the struggle for power within.
The most insightful media sources have already voiced concerns that if the Houthis get the support of the Shia population of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom will stand no chance in fighting them. This can lead to the country being divided in four historic areas. The current situation is worsened by the presence of the Islamic State, created with the money of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and whose actions are leading to the collapse of Iraq and Syria.
In any case, the sitting Saudi rulers are facing a serious challenge, since the continuation of the illegal war against its neighbor leads to a number of serious risks to the very existence of the Kingdom. Attempts to compromise with Yemeni political forces in the current situation will inevitably lead to the loss of Saudi Arabia’s authority in the region, and can also be a catalyst of the disintegration of the state itself. Bewildered by the huge financial resources at their disposal, Saudi leaders have got themselves into a no-win situation. And should they seek to pursue a military solution any further, it would only exacerbate the situation they got themselves in.
Victor Mikhin, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”