Yemen Approaches Sixth Year of Brutal War

Developing Just Leadership

Brecht Jonkers

Rajab 17, 1442 2021-03-01

News & Analysis

by Brecht Jonkers (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 1, Rajab, 1442)

For nearly six years, Yemen has stood alone in the world facing an invasion of massive proportions. The so-called “legitimate government” of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi has been given a straw to clutch on to by an invading coalition army led primarily by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the field, and by the United States, Britain, France and the Zionist entity in terms of military, logistic and intelligence support.

In a show of military force of proportions almost unseen in modern Arabian history, the most reactionary, backwards and hypocritical regimes of the Arab world united in an unholy alliance with the sole aim of destroying and subjecting what was already the poorest country in the region.

Yet, defying all odds, the Yemeni resistance has shown an extraordinary degree of resilience, willpower and strength. As March heralds the sixth anniversary of the 2015 Saudi-led invasion, not only are the invaders far short of achieving the strategic goals they originally planned to meet in a matter of weeks, but the Wahhabi kingdom’s plans are in worse state than ever before.

While southern Yemen continues to slip from the Saudis’ grasp, and is instead sinking into an ever increasing abyss of infighting, the actual frontline is gradually being pushed closer and closer to the city of Aden, the Saudi-Emirati headquarters in Yemen.

Since the beginning of the year, the forces of the National Salvation Government of Yemen (often dubbed “Houthis” by imperialist mainstream media) have been gradually advancing on the central Yemeni city of Ma’rib, one of the main Saudi bases of operations in the country’s heartland. Defeating desperate Saudi and mercenary counterattacks along the way, the Yemeni campaign has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.

In a fast and highly successful offensive starting in early February, the Armed Forces and Popular Committees of Yemen have advanced to mere kilometers of Ma’rib city centre. On February 19, the defenders of Yemen broke through Saudi defenses in al-Nadhoud, and started opening the path towards both Hadhramaut province and the Al-Wadia border crossing into Saudi Arabia. Considering just how much Yemen has been punishing Saudi Arabia within its own borders already, the prospect of losing another frontier area is sure to be cause for great alarm in Riyadh.

Indeed, Yemeni wrath hasn’t spared Saudi Arabia proper either. A ballistic missile strike on King Khalid Airbase in Khamis Mushayt on February 11 heralded a new campaign of aerial retaliation from Yemen. Both Abha International Airport in the kingdom’s south and the major city of Jeddah were subsequently struck by highly precise Yemeni drone strikes. In the case of Abha, the regional capital of ‘Asir province which incidentally is part of Greater Yemen that has been illegally occupied by the Saudis since 1934, the airport was struck no less than four times in just five days.

Even the Saudi capital of Riyadh was not spared from retaliatory strike, although the situation is less clear. Two separate attacks on Riyadh in late January were originally blamed on Yemen. The Yemeni resistance denied having any role in this particular retaliation. Instead, an Iraqi resistance movement named the Brigades of the Righteous Promise claimed responsibility for the drone strike that targeted Riyadh Airport. In other words, the resistance of Yemen seems to have sparked a flame that has expanded into a fiery blaze that is inspiring people to defy Saudi Arabia head-on.

It is clear that the days when Saudi Arabia was the only one doing the bombing are over. While Saudi aerial superiority seemed guaranteed at the beginning of the war, the sheer determination and ingenuity of the Yemenis has shifted the balance in favour of the Resistance.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the main instigator of this war, the United States of America, has grown increasingly weary of the conflict. Whereas some US representatives, such as Senator Chris Murphy and California Democrat Ro Khanna, were opposed to the US-backed invasion of Yemen from the very beginning, there was generally little support among the establishment either in the late years of the Obama regime or under Donald Trump.

In fact, it was Khanna who drew up the War Powers Resolution meant to curtail US support for the Wahhabi invasion as far back as 2017. After much delays typical of US politics, the bill that had been passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives was eventually vetoed by Trump in 2019.

With the new Biden regime, pressure keeps mounting on the president to keep his word to end US support for the Saudi-led war. The White House decision to end support for all Saudi “offensive operations”, while being vague and accompanied by continued guarantees of US support to “Saudi defence”, was, therefore, enthusiastically greeted by the anti-war movement.

The movement to end US support for the invasion of Yemen has become a bipartisan one, partially rooted in a deeper discontent with the US elite’s seemingly endless thirst for war. As Utah Republican Mike Lee phrased it: “We’ve gotten into too many wars in too many parts of the world, and one of the things that’s facilitated that has been the fact that we’ve drifted away from the Constitution’s Article I focus on the need for Congress to declare war.”

Perhaps even more interesting, is the fact that the ambiguous phrasing of Biden’s declaration on US support immediately drew criticism from within his own party. Khanna expressed concern that the Saudis may claim future attacks on Yemen as “defensive” in nature, in order to find a loophole. “We need a commitment from Biden to use all of his leverage to end the Saudi-led de facto blockade of Yemen,” the California representative said.

Whatever Biden and his regime’s plans are for Yemen, it seems clear that the US is growing increasingly annoyed with the rash and impulsive behaviour of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). According to the White House Press Secretary, a phone call by Biden to Saudi Arabia would be to the 85-year-old, sickly Saudi King Salman, not his son. MbS on the other hand has received a phone call only from US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, in recognition of his official position as the kingdom’s defence minister. Indeed, it is quite a drop from being the personal guest of Trump for the past four years.

Obviously, any seemingly positive change in US policy must be met with a healthy dose of skepticism. The United States is and remains the world’s foremost imperialist power, and for the most part any changes in its direction are made as a result of careful deliberation on how best to safeguard and expand its global hegemony.

However, if there is one lesson to be learned from the horrible situation Yemen has been forced to endure for six years, it is that resistance alone can cause the imperialist forces and their minions to relent and give in to the will of the people. Much like we have seen in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran; also in Yemen it is the resistance and the unbreakable willpower of a people fighting for justice that eventually wins the day.

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