Yemen in the Vortex of Unending Conflicts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ardeshir Zarei Ghanavati
Expert on International Relations & Foreign Policy

A few weeks have passed since Zaidi Houthis, along with the supporters of former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, conquered the capital city of Sana'a without facing any major resistance. Following the capture of the capital city, they rapidly moved southward to take hold of the southern port city of Aden as well. Up to the present time, regardless of foreign support that was provided to both sides of the conflict, the main factor that determined the general course of political developments in the Arabian Peninsula has been the situation on the battlefield. After Houthis revolutionaries and that part of the Yemeni army that supported Saleh set off for the southern part of the country, Saudi Arabia, which saw its interests in Yemen in jeopardy, entered the equation as a third player. Since that time, developments in Yemen have changed course from a simply national state of affairs to a full-fledged regional crisis. Therefore, its future progress should be explored within framework of regional conflicts, which aim to foster clashes between Shias and Sunnis. Following the aggression of Yemen by Saudi Arabia on the pretext that Iran is interfering in that country’s internal affairs and with the main goal of restoring power to the country’s fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and their Arab allies, in addition to the leaders of Turkey, Pakistan and some Western countries have joined hands and created specific conditions in the country. As a result of these conditions, at present, the final implosion of Yemen, subsequent human catastrophe in the Arab country, and impossibility of settling the crisis through political means seem almost inevitable.

As Yemen is losing its internal stability, the way is being paved for radical terrorist groups, topped by the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, to see their best opportunity in order to play their role. In doing so, Al-Qaeda sees itself offered with another geographical expanse to continue spreading terrorism in an already chaotic Middle East. The tribal fabric of Yemen and ethnic fault lines in the country have made it possible for conflicting domestic factions and their foreign allies to use this chaotic situation to their own avail.

As a result, in proportion to their relations with domestic tribes in Yemen and countries around it, these factions have taken steps to fan the flames of war and crisis as a result of which all ways out of the current deadlock have been practically blocked, at least over short term. From now on, political forces and domestic parties in Yemen will not have enough political potential of their own to sit at the negotiating table in order to reach a peace agreement. Under these circumstances, the sole way out of the current situation is to act within framework of regional and international relations and dealings. Yemen, as a result, will finally turn into a battleground for proxy wars on behalf of foreign actors.

At present, about two weeks have passed since the beginning of the onslaught against Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies. According to the United Nations, more than 500 people have been so far killed and 2,000 wounded in the attacks. Most of the victims have been civilians, especially children. Aerial attacks by Saudi Arabia against Yemen lack justification within framework of international law and cannot be considered legitimate under any excuses. Even the support offered by the Arab League and other allies of Riyadh for this act of aggression has been in blatant violation of all the accepted norms of international law. The attack on Yemen is exactly reminiscent of the unilateral assault on Iraq by the United States and its allies in 2003, which lacked authorization from the United Nations Security Council. On the opposite of what some international analysts have been claiming, military intervention at international level can be only justifiable within framework of the Security Council resolutions and under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations. Even regional alliances such as the Arab League, or military alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), do not have the right to launch such a military action. The serious support shown for Saudi Arabia’s act of aggression in past few weeks by various countries that are close to Riyadh will not impart any legitimacy to Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Yemen and can be only considered as following suit with Saudi Arabia in a blind manner and against the national and international interests of these countries. The interesting point is that many of these countries have tried to justify their measure under the pretext of supporting the security of Saudi Arabia and Two Holy Mosques ignoring the fact that Yemen has never taken any act of aggression against Saudi Arabia and the reality is quite the opposite.

There is no doubt that Houthis and the supporters of Saleh made a strategic mistake in spreading tensions and war to southern regions of the country. Due to ethnic issues and the role played by regional actors in this country, their uncalculated measure has provided foreign invaders with a good excuse to go on with their aggression against Yemen.

On Friday, April 3, Russia presented a resolution to the UN Security Council, urging all belligerent sides to cease fire, stop aerial attacks and pave the way for relief aid to reach civilians. The proposal, which came almost simultaneous with a request from the International Committee of the Red Cross for a 24-hour halt to Saudi Arabia’s aerial attacks, has failed to gather the support of the Security Council members and has not been ratified due to the influence of Riyadh. On the other hand, on Tuesday April 14th, the UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and blacklisted the son of Yemen's former president and a Houthi leader. Fourteen members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, Russia being the only abstention. The Russian representative explained the move by saying that not all of Moscow’s proposals had been included in the final text drafted by Jordan and Gulf Arab states.

Unfortunately, both Washington and the European Union have taken a profiteering and geopolitical approach to this issue under the pressure and influence of both the conservative Arab states and Turkey. Therefore, they have turned a blind eye to the relationship that exists between these countries and such radical terrorist groups as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, despite their past reports that showed the Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen to be among the most dangerous terrorist groups. And today, the air strikes launched by Saudi Arabia have provided them with a good opportunity to spread their sphere of influence, thus paving the way for more tension and instability in the region. The resolution of the crisis in Yemen under the present circumstances can be only possible through national dialogue with the help of the United Nations and through cooperation of regional powers. Any country taking steps against this solution will be a direct partner in the ongoing catastrophe in Yemen.

Key Words: Yemen, Unending Conflicts, Zaidi Houthis, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Al-Qaeda, UN Security Council, Resolution, Russia, Ghanavati

Source: Shargh Daily
ٰTranslated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: Reuters

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