By Reza Moshfegh

S. Arabia has lost its cards in Yemen: analyst 

June 23, 2021 - 18:55

TEHRAN – A Yamani writer says that Saudi Arabia looks for a solution to get out of Yemen’s swamp as it has lost its cards in the regions and Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia is looking for a way to exit from this war, which entered this year its seventh,” Talib al-Hassani tells the Tehran Times.

“Saudis have lost more cards facing more military and economic pressures, and this means that time is not going in their favor, but rather in the interest of Yemen,” al-Hassani adds.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you see Saudi Arabia's position on Yemen after the Yemenis showed that they are able to respond to the Saudi aggression? Is Saudi Arabia in a position of strength?

A: Saudi Arabia is looking for a way to exit from this war, which entered this year its seventh.

 Meanwhile, Saudis have lost more cards facing more military and economic pressures, and this means that time is not going in their favor, but rather in the interest of Yemen.

The decision to end this catastrophe will not be in hands of Saudis, as the war decision was. The United States of America is a major partner in decision-making, and therefore today they are partners in the search for safe exit from Yemen.

These partners in war after their failure have no card on the negotiating table, unless embargo, economic sanctions and further restrictions.

All the Saudi or American initiatives that have been put forward since Biden came to power are based on negotiating with Sana’a over two options: 

lifting the siege in exchange for stopping targeting Saudi Arabia and freezing military operations inside Yemen, including the process of restoring the city of Marib in eastern Yemen, which is the last stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition in northern Yemen, or continuing embargo and more sanctions.

Sana'a has rejected this deal in whole and in detail and stipulated the lifting of the siege without expecting something in return, as well as the withdrawal of the Saudi and Emirati forces and all foreign forces from the south of the country.

This is a very big achievement and progress for Yemenis that did not exist during the past years.

In all cases, and according to the current developments, the coalition not only failed, but prompted Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to search for a gradual retreat, and it is now clear that Sanaa has achieved two strategic goals:

The first is to preserve the revolution and to remove Yemen from the U.S. and (Persian) Gulf camp that has lasted for decades.

The second is putting Yemen on an anti-U.S. axis that is a real threat to some (Persian) Gulf countries. This shift means that the American axis has failed after years of unremitting efforts and billions of dollars.

The first objective of the aggressive war on Yemen was to return it to the arms of America, through blocking efforts for change, and to impose more hegemony within two axes:

The first is a regional axis that ensures the existence of America’s allies in the region, and the second is international and within the conflict with Iran, China and Russia. In a word, the two axes are the continuation of dominance over the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the coasts of the Red Sea and Arab Sea or the Indian Ocean. 

All the headlines that were raised and announced in the media, including the restoration of the government of Abd Rabbeh Mansour Hadi, are considered marginal.

Saudi Arabia is currently in a predicament after losing its military and political reputation and is also threatened by political and economic instability.

The goals of the Saudi crown prince and Saudi rulers will not be realized as long as the war remains open, and therefore it will be the biggest loser.

Q: How do you see the level of coordination between the Yemeni resistance with other resistance groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine?

A: Yemen has become practically and openly within the axis of resistance; it is an important stronghold and a great addition to the axis, especially given its geopolitical geography is very pivotal in terms of supervising one of the most important seaports, Bab al-Mandab, as well as part of the map of the Chinese Silk Road. The Israeli statements were clear about their fear of Yemen playing an important role in blocking the movement of the Israelis in the Red Sea.

The other matter is the military future of Yemen, as the predictions say that Yemen will turn into a large military force, which is not far from the occupied Palestinian territories. The offer of Abdul Malik Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, the leader of the revolution, to send military assistance to the Palestinian resistance factions in the last war, Seif Al-Quds, signals an important change in the regional balances. It is very important, and the Palestinian resistance factions commented on that with much praise and belief that this is a major shift on the path to liberating Palestine. This was not a slogan, but rather Yemen currently possesses winged missiles and drones whose range reaches the Palestinian territories. All the resistance factions have representatives in Sana'a, and there is clear coordination.

Q: What is the status of the Palestinian cause among the Yemenis? What are the reasons for Yemeni support for Palestine?

A: The Yemeni people view the Palestinian cause from a religious ideological standpoint. Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque are sacred lands and must be liberated.

The other matter is that America seeks hegemony over the Yemeni people, which constitutes a real threat to Islam and Muslims.

The U.S. has committed war crimes against Yemeni people that are not permissible. Yemeni people cannot remain silent or form a coalition with the United States of America, which represents an existential threat to Islam.

The Yemeni people also look at the Palestinian cause from a nationalistic point of view. Palestine is an Arab land that must be liberated, and this appears through the broad popular response in demonstrations and marches in solidarity with the Palestinian people on all occasions, including the International Quds Day.

Therefore, the Yemeni people are still part of the Arab nations. The new development is that the Ansar Allah Islamic Movement has now become the ruling political front in the country, and this movement led by Abdul Malik Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi succeeded in changing the failed and puppet traditional system, which did not represent the Yemeni Islamic and religious identity.

This shows the volume of support for this popular movement, which is a major shift in the future of the country, especially its active role in making and influencing the decision in the region in the future.

Q: What will be the fate of the peace negotiations between Yemen and Saudi Arabia? Who are the mediators in peace talks?

A: Negotiations still have a long road to reach results. It was clear that the Omani delegation that went to the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, to meet with officials was expected more than what it could carry out, and therefore hopes were opened wide to reach an end to the war on Yemen, lifting the siege, and opening Sana’a International Airport, which has been closed since 2017. 

There are many reasons for this reliance on the Omani role, the first of which is the positive position of the Sultanate of Oman and its great efforts in playing the role of mediator between the various regional and international parties, as well as its embrace of the Yemeni national negotiating team, as it has been leading this role for years.

Among these reasons is the Yemenis’ confidence in Omanis, and hence some observers confused the mission of the sultanate’s delegation with the chaos of political analysis and deductions based on wrong information.

 Especially since it coincides with a great regional and international diplomatic move, from which it was understood that the final touches are being put in steps to stop the war that has been going on for six-and-a-quarter years.

But the reality says:

First, the delegation does not have an Omani initiative to be presented to various parties, if so the Sultan of Oman would have presented it to officials in the capital, Sana’a, and if that was the case, this initiative would have been announced.

Secondly, the official Omani media, even the unofficial ones, did not issue a statement explaining the mission of the delegation, and the official media were limited to referring to the presence of this delegation in Yemen. This necessarily means that the delegation, despite its importance, does not exceed its mission as a continuation of efforts to bring the views closer and try to overcome the obstacles to address the crisis and support the process of negotiations that do not move much.

Third, the official statements made by the chief Yemeni negotiator and head of the national negotiating team, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, who accompanied the Omani delegation, whether made during arrival or during departure, were limited to praising the humanitarian role of the Sultanate of Oman and referring to the establishment of humanitarian arrangements in an effort to (to mitigate the suffering of our Yemeni people) as Muhammad Abd al-Salam says, and this means that efforts are focused on trying to separate the humanitarian file and lift the siege on the civil international airport of Sana’a, as well as the port of Hodeidah from the political and military files.

Whoever follows the statement issued by the ruling Supreme Political Council in the capital, Sana’a, which followed the meeting of Al-Mashat and members of the Political Council with the Omani delegation who praised the position and role of the Sultanate, will find that he focused on three main points, one of which is very important, which is the point related to the necessity of the withdrawal of Saudi, Emirati and foreign forces from all Yemeni lands before talking about any ceasefire initiative, as well as lifting the siege and opening Yemeni airspace for civilian flights as a legitimate, humanitarian and sovereign right of the Republic of Yemen.

The statement summarizes the Yemeni vision that was presented to the Omani side, and therefore the mission that the royal delegation carried out did not go beyond the fact that Oman wanted to know directly from the office of Mr. Abdul-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, as the leader of the revolution, towards the various issues being discussed.

They wanted to address the major reasons for the failure of the United Nations and the failure of Biden's envoy to Yemen, during the past few months.

The mission of the Omani royal delegation can be described as being limited to knowing Sana’a’s point of view, ideas, and approaches to a comprehensive solution in Yemen, and then transferring it to the other side. 

Therefore, this is an Omani effort that cannot be talked about its failure or success. In the end, it is a humanistic effort, an effort that its results cannot be discussed.

Some went on to think that the Sultanate of Oman intended to present an initiative of its own to Sana’a, and linked the visit of the Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi and his delivery of a message from Sultan Haitham bin Tariq to King Salman and the delegation that flew to the capital Sana’a. 

Therefore, the failure of the “Omani initiative” would mean that the position of the Sultanate has changed over Yemen. This perception and description is inaccurate and goes beyond the pivotal and important strategic role that Oman plays for all parties, a role that stems from its stance and vision of the crisis in Yemen.

Some Arab newspapers and Saudi analysts worked a lot in this direction and hinted in one way or another to their dissatisfaction with the Omani role.

They made every effort to ruin the Omani-Yemeni relationship and its mediating role in trying to solve the crisis by receiving delegations and coordinating meetings between the various parties, within a humanitarian and political framework to stop the aggression on Yemen and the ongoing war, including hosting the (secret) Yemeni-Saudi dialogue.


 

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