By Said Jama Hussein
Araweelo News Network
Yemen1I am so moved by what is going on in Yemen. I am also terribly saddened watching ADEN – the bastion of light in the Arabian Peninsula – being dismantled stone from stone in front of our own eyes by a coalition of forces, the Saudi-led coalition on the one side and the Houthis armed by former president Salih’s loyal forces on the other side. The Saudi coalition is further said to enjoy the support of the US as well as the UN Security Council. These are, according to the powerful western media, the two main rival groups in the current Yemeni crisis going on unabated in that country.

One cannot fully grasp the implications of the Yemeni crisis, nor the extent of its impact in the region as a whole without having a clear picture of how the Saudi-Yemeni relations has been fluctuating over the past 50 years. So, for this purpose, let us from the outset cite some prominent landmarks of these relations during the said period.

Saudi Arabia became the biggest Absolute Bedouin Kingdom in 1932 ruling over an area of more than a million square miles of the Arabian Peninsula and not so long after with the oil bonanza discovered and run by the ARAMCO Company became the most influential economic power in the whole region. Since its inception, the Saudi Kingdom has made hugely impressive developments in the country; but the system of governance remained as petrified as the times of its founding father, the tribal warrior King Abdul Aziz Al Saud almost one century ago in a world dramatically moving forward. It is not a secret that Saudi Arabia’s record of the Human Rights violation is very appalling and that is the main reason why, albeit its financial wealth, the kingdom feels so alarmed by the slightest positive changes taking place all around its moribund aging monarchy.

Since the demise of the feudal Imamate Rule of Ahmed Bin Hamidaddin in Yemen and the proclamation of the Yemeni Republic in 1962, the Saudi Kingdom has been ill at ease with its Southern neighbour, the Yemen. But owing to Yemen’s economic weakness, the Saudi Kingdom has been able through financial handouts to thwart any uneasiness arising from those quarters. It is not, however, in the nature of things to remain static at all. The unification of the Yemen Republic with its southern sister The Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1990, and the emergence of a United Yemen with territories extending from the Red Sea to the vicinity of the Arabian Gulf alerted the Saudis to the impending danger to its outdated monarchy. Once again the Saudi Kingdom was able with the aid of its allies to pique the two Yemen against each other in a ferocious civil strife in 1994, in which their man President Ali Abdalla Salih emerged victorious. At about the same time with the Al Qaeda’s affiliate appearing to be active in the Yemen itself, President A. Salih became also the US man in the region fighting its proxy war against local terrorism. A very lucrative business, and for a time the powers wielded by President Salih seemed virtually beyond any challenge in Yemen.
Amiir SalmaaniyoObama

King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

The people of Yemen, on the other hand, with their political and social organisations were struggling hard to set their own house in order. All efforts were geared towards affecting an overall reform in the state structure as well as the malfunctioning system of governance. While diligently engaged in this formidable task, a fair wind blew from the North. The reverberation of the Arab Spring has caught up with this region boosting its already growing political momentum. An upsurge took place in Yemen and a popular uprising brought about the demise of the unpopular President Ali Salih regime. Once again the Gulf States were alerted to the looming cloud overhead. They came to the rescue of their man, this time by brokering an agreement that President Ali Salih step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution of any crimes committed during his 34-year tenure of office.

The popular movement led by the National Dialogue Council comprising of 515 members from all sections of the Yemen society continued undeterred with its task of preparing the blue print for the newly reformed Yemeni State. The first plenary meeting for adopting the Council’s resolutions and recommendations was scheduled for the end of March 2015. Unsurprisingly, the prospective outcome of this historical meeting set the Saudi Kingdom apprehensively wild with anxiety. Hence its sudden frantic and violent air strikes of Yemen.

In addition to this short account of the Saudi-Yemeni relations, an essential backdrop, indeed, to our analysis of the Yemeni Issue, there is also another equally important factor to be taken into full consideration: the main players in the game, their various interests, and different roles in order to envisage with much more clarity the possible outcome of this highly controversial Yemeni conflict.

The Saudi Kingdom, along with some of its closest feudal Gulf States, has always been extremely obsessed with fear of the prospective emergence of a secular democratic state in the Arabian Peninsula particularly in Yemen. Lending credence to the Saudi apprehension is the fact that Yemen, despite its derisive definition as the poorest and most backward country in the region, yet it abounds with both natural and human resources capable of freeing her from the current socio-economic quagmire in a relatively short period of time. Looking at the geographical map of Arabia, Yemen is the only environmentally green spot in that vast desert. It has the longest coastline extending from the Red Sea to close to the Gulf of Hormuz. Both the Canadian Off Shore oil company and the French Total Gas Company have been for the past 25 years engaged in the production of oil and gas in that country respectively. Moreover, Yemen is among the very few Arab countries where the peaceful transfer of political power has since 1990 been practically implemented through free elections, based on its secular national constitution, as attested by the United Nation’s electoral observers. A multi-party system of government in which the Islamic Islaah Attajamu Party is numerically the second largest in the house of parliament and the (Marxist) Socialist Party the third in line of strength. Freedom of the press is guaranteed and the social organisations and the trade unions are safeguarded by the constitution of the country. All the political parties and major social organisations such as the women association and trade unions of the Yemen society are evenly represented in the Yemeni National Dialogue Council whose final meeting scheduled to be held last March was deliberately stalled and overshadowed by the sudden launch of Saudi Air strikes against Yemen. Strangely as it may seem, both the Houthis in the North and the Southern separatist group known as the Harak Aljanoubi in the South are active participants of the National Dialogue Council, a testimony of the good will and support this council enjoyed. All the Council resolutions are almost adopted by consensus in order to keep every party on board, an indication of the confidence, the dedication and the expertise the council participants truly wield.

The outgoing former president Ali Abdalla Salih and his successor Abd Rabu Mansur had been and still remain the favoured political figure heads of the US and Saudi Kingdom in Yemen. That the former deposed President Salih should remain so active in Yemen at the present political turmoil whereas his vice-president and successor, the supposedly legitimate President AbdRabu Mansur given asylum in Saudi Arabia with his Cabinet Ministers tells a great deal.

Former president Ali Abdalla Salih

Equally baffling is the fact that the Houthis, the latest political player to emerge in the Yemeni stage only in 2006, should genuinely harbour the ambition of ruling Yemen or even for that matter becoming such a formidable political force to reckon with in the current political equation, honestly seems too much to digest. More to the point is that its name is only being used emblematically. The Houthis are being presented as Iran’s fifth column in Yemen with the sole purpose of projecting to the gullible Moslem world at large the intensity of the Iranian menace to the Islamic Holy Shrines in Saudi Arabia as well as the peril Iran poses to the international waterways of the Red Sea and the Aden Gulf if the Houthis come out victorious in the Yemen war.

The US, by far the most powerful and most sinister of the lot, is methodically bent on the pursuit of its hegemonic strategy of maintaining the region under its full control while it still reigns supreme in our “New World Disorder”.

Even before the Yemen unification, the Soviet-trained army of the Democratic Republic of Yemen in the South was said, with good credence, to have been by far superior to the combined forces of the Gulf States put together. This had, indeed, been worrying to the US as much as its dependencies in the Gulf and that is the reason why both the US and the Saudi Kingdom are so keen about the total destruction of that army at all costs. In this respect, Yemen is but the last one in the US list that began with Libya, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Somalia, long reduced into the most failed state in the eyes of the world.

Relevant also to the topic of the Yemeni dilemma at hand is the significant role of the national army. In the newly liberated third world countries, it is generally held that the armed forces constitute the most important state institution since the defence of the nation from without and the enforcement of the rule of law from within, both depend upon them according to their designated national duty according to their national constitution. Once, therefore, the armed forces are removed from executing that vital role for whatever reason, the emergent puny nation states in question are sure to suffer heavily. Nothing could be more supportive of the verity of this dictum than how the late President Sadat of Egypt by his repeal of the Egyptian-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and the expulsion of all the Soviet military experts and advisers from the country just before the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 and later by signing the infamous Camp David Accord in 1978, degenerated the proud Egyptian army and by extension the country into a mere satellite within the US orbit. His successors, the recently deposed President Hosni Mubarak and the current General SISI followed suit while the lot of the Egyptian people remained miserably the same and the political situation still in turmoil.

The same has been senselessly repeated by President Siad Barre of Somalia, who also expelled the Soviet military advisors just before recklessly plunging the country into the devastating 1977 war with neighbouring Ethiopia. With the total destruction of the national army, Somalia was fragmented into the current rival clannish fiefdoms. It is not difficult to trace the numerous frantic visits Somali officials had paid, shortly before and during that 1977 fateful war, to Saudi Arabia and the US and to a lesser degree Egypt and Iran and the avouched pledge by these countries of providing Somalia with more than its needs of both economic and military aid and assistance.

Moving to yet another recent episode of similar nature, Bahrain has been the first member of the Gulf Cooperation Council to tangibly experience the bitterness of Saudi military intrusion into its territories, not to defend it against foreign invasion, as the Cooperation Council would rightly demand, but to silence the vastly growing opposition inside the country. Just two years ago in 2013 when the Bahraini people tried through peaceful demonstrations to voice their legitimate grievances and have their say in the system of governance shaping their lives and future, it was Saudi Arabia, this time starkly mounting its military tanks, that came in to crush the people’s movement demanding positive political change in their country. Yet again, we are made to believe that Saudi Arabia was motivated to save the Gulf region from an impending Iranian secret plot aimed at bringing the whole region, starting with Bahrain, under its domination.

Just before conclusion, it may perhaps be helpful to quickly recap the significant parts played by some of the key actors in this intricate alarming Yemen conflict simply for the sake of illuminating the issue better:

– The Iranian involvement in the Yemeni issue is but a fabrication meant to project the conflict as Sunni versus Shia to those gullible Moslems in the world.

– The Houthis, a newly emergent political entity in 2006, do have their legitimate grievances, but never dreamed of taking reign of the political power in the country.

– President Abdurabu Mansur’s swift moves from his detention in the presidential palaces in Sanaa to the city seaport of Aden in the South last March, and subsequent call for military help from the Gulf States, followed by his sudden flight to Riyadh with loyal members of his cabinet smacks of dubious murky business.

– The former President A Salih who has been rescued by Saudi and Gulf States mediation from prosecution for public embezzlement and serious crimes in 2012, and who even later on, when severely injured, sought medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and the US, should senselessly come against his benefactors, does not seem to hold much water.

– The proposed Yemeni Reconciliation Conference in Riyadh under the aegis of Saudi Arabia by the end of May 2015 and agreed by all the Yemeni factions, we are told, only awaits the Houthis acceptance to come on board.

– The Houthis know very well that their participation in the conference as a major contender in the play puts some strong cards in their hands – not least of which most probably must be the guarantee of a safe and honourable exit for the former President Ali Salih and his cohorts.

From the unfurling scenario before our eyes, Yemen and its people are the biggest losers in this uneven equation. The country is being reduced to a ruinous state with its people dependent on international humanitarian aid and assistance. The masters of the show- US, Saudi Arabia – will gleefully have their ominous plans for Yemen meticulously executed as soon as the proposed Riyadh Conference concludes its proceedings with the formation of a Yemeni government of their choice. However, the political turmoil raging in Yemen will definitely before long have its adverse consequences in the region as a whole, most pronouncedly felt by its haughty neighbour the Saudi Kingdom.

Said Jama Hussein
Said Jama Hussein, is an author and analyst on Somali language and literature. Mr. Hussein is the author of numerous books, among them Safar aan Jaho Lahayn. He is also a regular contributor to WardheerNews and the former vice chairman of Somali Pen.

Source: Wardheer