Getting Into the Yemeni Storm
By Mshari Al-Zaydi
27 March 2015
What is currently happening in Yemen is not the first problem Saudi Arabia has faced with respect to its neighbour to the south. But the current problems don’t just concern Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is of course the most affected out of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is by no means alone in being impacted. Other Gulf countries, as well as those along the Red Sea, and those countries whose ships pass through the Bab El-Mandeb strait and the Cape of Good Hope, will also be affected by the crisis.
In fact, what is happening in Yemen poses a problem for the whole world, politically, strategically, and in terms of global security. This is especially true when bearing in mind how Yemen is currently being transformed into a regional base for the Persian–Khomeinist camp and a rebel stronghold for Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda.
Saudi Arabia is the country most affected by the current Yemeni crisis, due to its geographic proximity to Yemen and the nature of the terrain on the borders between the two countries, from mountains and valleys to plains and steppes — not to mention the close links that exist between the peoples of these two countries.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members have been attempting to lay out a political road map for Yemen according to specific criteria, which are based on the outcomes of the Gulf Initiative, the legitimacy of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the unity of the country and its security.
The Iran-backed Houthi movement, which has staged a coup in Yemen, refuses all of this, however. Working alongside the Houthis is the country’s ousted former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his General People’s Congress (GPC) party, both pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, Iran continues its meddling in the north-western corner of the Peninsula, using its proven and poisonous abilities in subterfuge and divisiveness, spreading sedition and fomenting revolution in the happy land of Yemen and ruining the lives of its good, kind-hearted people.
But Iran was angry after calls were made to hold a conference on Yemen in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The request came from President Hadi himself, Who fled a Houthi-imposed house arrest last month, later moving his Cabinet to the southern port city of Aden. He was soon followed by his Defense Minister Mahmoud Al-Subaihi, who also fled Houthi captivity in the Yemeni capital.
After their escapes, Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi was livid with rage, refusing to attend the Riyadh conference and using the threat of force to push his agenda. He launched attacks on Taiz and Aden, the heartland of anti-Houthi sentiment in Yemen. The south is opposed to the Houthi movement’s deviant ideology, one far removed from traditional Zaidism in Yemen, which the movement claims to follow, though it is in fact closer to Iran.
Abdul Malik Al-Houthi also announced a “mass mobilization” of forces against the Taiz, Aden and Lahj provinces and any other regions of the country opposed to his coup and his dependence on Tehran.
The Houthi leader launched an attack on the presidential palace in Aden as well as the city’s airport. He also provoked the people of Taiz. And now the country has reached boiling point.
It was for this reason that Yemen’s new Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin told the Al-Arabiya news channel that the current crisis in Yemen threatens a host of different countries. He said that Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi called on the UN and the GCC’s Peninsula Shield Force to intervene in order to counter Houthi efforts, adding that the GCC countries were already considering the move.
UN Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar has recently said that the current events are now pushing the country “to the edge of a civil war,” and to eventual partition, unless some kind of miracle occurs.
And during his meeting on Monday with his British counterpart Philip Hammond, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal warned that unless the Houthi coup ends peacefully, Saudi Arabia and the GCC would be forced to take the necessary measures to protect the rest of the region.
A storm is brewing in the southern Arabian Peninsula, heading northward and outward. Stopping it from spreading is no longer a choice.