by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 4, Ramadan, 1438)
The few news snipets that ever make it to the Western corporate media relate to the destruction of Yemen at the hands of Bani Saud and their Arabian allies. Even this limited coverage is welcome since Bani Saud backed by the US, Britain, and Zionist Israel are committing war crimes in the poorest country of the region. There are other developments with serious implications for the Saudis’ disastrous war in Yemen that have not received any attention.
Last month, these exploded into the open with the “dismissal” by the fugitive former Yemeni president ‘Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi of the governor of Aden, Major General Aidarous al-Zubaidi. Hadi is not in Yemen; he dare not set foot there for fear of being killed. He resides in five-star hotels in Riyadh and Jeddah but thinks he can appoint or dismiss people at will since he has the backing of the Saudis.
Upon hearing of his “dismissal,” al-Zubaidi immediately announced formation of the Southern Transitional Council and organized a huge rally in Aden on May 12. He denounced the fugitive former president as a traitor. Al-Zubaidi has a point; after all, Hadi is trying to appease his Saudi masters but dare not come to his provisional capital of Aden. Yemen’s capital city, San‘a is under the control of Ansarallah freedom fighters and despite incessant bombing raids resulting in the deaths of several thousands of civilians, the Saudis and their allies have failed to dislodge them.
There are other developments that should worry the Saudis. First, al-Zubaidi favors separation of the south from the north. The two were united in 1990. An attempted separation in 1994 failed but the Saudi war and the massive destruction it has caused in the country has rekindled these tendencies.
While al-Zubaidi does not have the backing of the southern separatists who stayed away from his Aden rally, there are other developments that are causing sleepless nights in Riyadh. The war being prosecuted under the command of the incompetent Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman has been an unmitigated disaster. It was meant to elevate his position based on the erroneous assumption that taking over Yemen would be a cakewalk. The ignorant young prince owes his position only to the fact that he is the favorite son of his father, King Salman!
Further, fighting has erupted between the Muslim Brotherhood (the Yemeni branch is different from that in Egypt or Syria) and Da‘ish and al-Qaeda terrorists. All of them are backed by Saudi Arabia while the Emiratis oppose them. Their (Emirtis’) local proxies in the South are fighting all of them.
Despite being part of the same alliance, the Saudis and Emiratis have different agendas in Yemen. The Saudis want a subservient regime in San‘a. They also want to split Yemen not just into two but six or seven separate entities. This is the US-Israeli plan for Yemen — a mini version of what they have been working on for the broader Muslim East region to partition Iraq and Syria into several small entities. The Saudis are too stupid to think of such grandiose plans.
The Emiratis, on the other hand want to split the South from the North. This is a tacit admission that the Ansarallah fighters cannot be defeated. What the Emiratis really want is control of Aden. They have been involved in secret talks with the southern separatists to lease the port city for 99 years, the same as they did with Socotra, the Indian Ocean island that had for many years served as a British military base before they abandoned the region in 1967. The Emiratis clearly have huge ambitions for a tiny country and an even tinier population. But trying to punch above their weight is a common trait of the Arabian Bedouins until slapped back into reality.
Instead of the North-South split, Yemen is divided along the East-West axis. The Ansarallah fighters control the North, the Western port city of al-Hudaydah as well as the capital city San‘a. They have beaten off several attempts by the Saudis and their loyalists to capture al-Hudaydah. The Saudi aim is to starve not only Ansarallah fighters but the entire Yemeni population into submission.
Da‘ish terrorists control the territory south of San‘a all the way to Aden while al-Qaeda has taken over the oil-rich province of Hadramaut. In fact, almost all of eastern Yemen up to the border with Oman is under al-Qaeda control. Da‘ish and al-Qaeda terrorists fight for control of al-Mukhalla, the southeastern port city that is the only gateway for Yemenis to the outside world. Direct flights to San‘a were suspended in July 2016.
The few flights from Egypt that are allowed into Yemen have to first land at Baisha, a small local Saudi airport in Asir province. While all passengers and luggage undergo thorough screening before the flight leaves Cairo, the Saudis subject it to another intrusive inspection including the screening of all passengers, before it is allowed to leave for al-Mukhalla. Perhaps, the Saudis think people will try to smuggle missiles and bombs on commercial flights.
There has been fighting between Saudi and Emirati proxy forces elsewhere as well, such as at al-Mukha, another port at the mouth of Bab al-Mandab. This has also caused huge frustration in Riyadh since their objective of bringing Yemen under control is getting nowhere. When reminded of this, the Saudi Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman boasted last month that if the Saudis wanted, they could “obliterate the Houthis in a few days”! Isn’t this what the Saudis have been trying to do since March 25, 2015 when they launched their disastrous war on Yemen?
The Saudi-led coalition comprises forces from 10 Arabian countries and logistical and other support from the US, Britain, and Israel. There are also mercenaries from Africa and South America fighting alongside the Saudi and Emirati forces. Despite such large armies and massive stockpiles of weapons, the invaders have made little progress. Instead, the Ansarallah fighters have launched daring attacks deep inside Saudi Arabia targeting their military bases in the South. In one daring attack, the Ansarallah fighters launched a missile strike at a military base just outside Jeddah. The base was targeted because a plane that had bombed a funeral ceremony in San‘a last summer had flown from there. The Yemeni missile landed a mile outside the military base command centre.
According to eyewitnesses, news of the missile strike caused panic among passengers at Jeddah airport, gateway for pilgrims into Saudi Arabia. In order to cover their embarrassment, the Saudis alleged that the Houthis had tried to destroy the Ka‘bah. The sacred masjid that houses the Ka‘bah happens to be in Makkah, some 60 miles from Jeddah. How could the Saudis make such an outrageous allegation?
Given their criminal nature, they are capable of telling every kind of lie, but truth catches up with them pretty fast. This Saudi lie was also soon exposed, as was their gross incompetence. But it is their war crimes in Yemen that will ultimately prove their undoing.