09.06.2021 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Long-suffering Yemen: Where is the Way Out?

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Yemen is currently experiencing an externally imposed civil war and is facing starvation, poverty, various disasters, and the dreaded COVID-19 epidemic. For years, the Saudi-led coalition, with strong US support, has been waging war against Yemen to impose its policies and bring its proxies to power. As the world’s media have repeatedly reported, airstrikes have primarily targeted residential areas, markets, funeral centers, detention centers, various medical facilities, religious sites, and refugee camps, killing civilians in large numbers. But the Yemenis, led by the Houthi fighters, have not given up and are fiercely and universally resisting this vicious will of the Saudis and their proxies inside the country.

The Yemenis’ unwavering will for freedom and independence forced the Saudis and their allies to move to the negotiation stage because the recent precision drone and missile strikes by the Houthis worsened the situation for the Riyadh-led forces and caused damage to the kingdom’s territory. The spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, has consistently reported operations against the kingdom’s air bases in the Asir District, where he says Kasef K2 UAVs have recently been used. Drone and missile technology has given the Yemenis an edge over the Saudis’ brutality, the Iranian Tehran Times stated, and the Saudi-led coalition is forced to lower its weapons against the Yemenis’ will to resist and let the Yemeni people decide their own fate without interference from its so-called Western-oriented “friends.”

At the same time, the Houthis threatened to launch more drones and strike new missiles against “unexpected” places in the Arab coalition countries. Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, the Yemen Post noted, said his movement could lead to an escalation of attacks against “aggressor countries” if sanctions against military and political leaders continue. “Sanctions do not scare the Mujahideen,” he tweeted.

Some analysts believe that the US is resorting to compiling so-called blacklists of Houthi military leaders to force the insurgents to accept the efforts of the US special envoy to end the war. But the Ministry of Information Undersecretary at Legitimate government Najib Gallab argues that sanctions against individual insurgents will not make the movement change its behavior. “We continually assess Houthi behavior and Houthi actions and are prepared to take whatever steps are appropriate in response to Houthi behavior,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said threateningly.   This statement by an American official clarifies that the current Joe Biden administration is entirely on the side of the Saudis in their attempts to impose their will on a neighboring nation.

The statement by Muhammad Ali al-Houthi, head of Ansar Allah or Houthi movement, came after Washington imposed sanctions on May 20 on Houthi military officials leading operations to seize Marib province in Yemen.  Despite heavy fighting in the province, the Houthis advanced and attacked government-controlled areas outside the city itself. The fragility of the government’s position is exacerbated by the fact that Marib has been a stronghold of al-Qaeda (a terrorist group banned in Russia) in the Arabian Peninsula for two decades and one of the most active branches of the terrorist organization. The city was also home to Salafi jihadists loyal to DAESH, a terrorist group banned in Russia as well.

Experts believe that the capture of Marib by the Houthis would be a thumping political and military blow to the Muslim Brotherhood (an organization banned in Russia) along with its Salafist allies. It would also be a defeat for the legitimate government and lay the groundwork for the country’s division between the north and south of Yemen.  “The militia prefers to rule in the north, where there is a relative majority of Zeidites over Shafi adherent to Sunni. If they rule in the south as well, they will lose the balance,” said Seddik, a political analyst for the Yemen Observer newspaper. By the way, the number of Zeidites and Sunnis is almost the same, but the Shiites are slightly more numerous. At present, a large part of the Yemeni people supports the division of the country. Southerners live in a semi-independent state, lacking only regional and international conditions to recognize South Yemen. Southerners base their demands for separation on social and cultural differences between them and northerners, in addition to the spread of Sufism, adherent to Sunni Islam which is rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia), the most prominent representative of Northern Sunnis.

Earlier, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, who demagogically advocated a ceasefire between the warring sides, said that all ports and airports in the republic should be opened to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. However, for some reason, he forgot to mention that it is the Saudis who implement a brutal land and maritime embargo and siege of these ports. As the Ansar Allah movement continues to make gains on the military front, Riyadh has been forced to offer a nationwide truce in Yemen, and the resumption of air and sea links to support efforts to end the conflict.

However, the kingdom’s initiative was met with reciprocal demands. The Houthis said that the blockade by Saudi Arabia must be lifted before any truce agreement can be reached. The Houthis are demanding unlimited and uncontrolled flights from Sana’a airport to destinations including Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, lifting restrictions on Port of Hodeidah, and an end to Arab coalition airstrikes before they impose a ceasefire and end their offensive on Marib. Riyadh is not ready and does not want to take such a step until Ansar Allah stops attacking the oil-producing province of Marib, the seizure of which would dramatically strengthen the financial and political position of the Houthis.

The international conference on international law and armed conflict in the region, entitled “Yemen War and Role of International Law on Armed Conflicts”, held at Qom University, Iran, unequivocally and directly pointed to the detrimental military intervention of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. According to the Tehran Times, the conference made it clear that Riyadh’s actions in Yemen today, as described by the United Nations, are “the worst humanitarian disaster in the contemporary world.”  This tragedy has left a small country of some 28 million people, considered the poorest in the region before the Saudi-led coalition’s military aggression, in a very critical situation. As a result, “about 150,000 people in Yemen have lost their lives and consequently, hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people have been injured and/or disabled.” The conference concluded that this military intervention was not justified under international law. Although some highly questionable facts and justifications have been put forward, they are utterly incapable of confronting these challenges. The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, which has resulted in nothing but starvation, destruction, and the displacement of large numbers of civilians, cannot be justified under international law in today’s world.  It is pretty evident that after five years of destructive war imposed on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its patrons, the country has become a breeding ground for the expansion of various kinds of terrorism, such as al-Qaeda on the one hand and DAESH on the other (both organizations are banned in Russia).

A gloomy problem in the Yemen issue is the focus of coalition forces on airstrikes. Statistics show that from 2015 to date, 60,000 airstrikes have been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, the Iranian news agency Fars News has calculated. There are dozens of airstrikes every day in Yemen, in which a significant number of bombs are dropped on the Yemeni people. The world has seen in Yemen that the principle of segregation, proportion, and precaution is not respected. This is the main issue and perhaps the most crucial humanitarian problem in the Yemeni war, said Marco Sassòli, Professor of International Law University of Geneva.  Under international law, the Tribune de Geneve wrote, citing the professor’s opinion, arms sales by the United States, Britain, and France should be stopped, but we are still not seeing that, he added.

In a situation where civilians are victims and have no choice, it is natural to expect the international community to come to their aid. In such cases, a humanitarian corridor should include people caught in the flames of conflict. But in this case, the Yemeni people are left alone with the pain of war, famine, destruction, and the spread of COVID-19 without finding a way to get rid of them. And there is no way out of this vicious circle because of the criminal behavior of the Saudis and their overseas patrons.

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


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