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Behind the confusion in Yemen

July 15, 2015 at 1:07 pm

With each passing day, more details emerge shedding light on the complicated situation that is the escalating conflict in Yemen. These details contribute significantly to the stagnation on the ground and the inability of political forces to achieve any progress in the country with respect to the Saudi-led coalition working on the ground. The stagnation on the ground is due to many factors, the main one being the course of the ongoing conflict between state and non-state actors, which is proving to be very complex on virtually every level, both regionally and internationally. And yet, it appears that the most complex factor within this conflict and its prolongation is the Arab coalition’s silence in regards to its internal struggle and inability to achieve any concrete results.

While it is true that there are also other complicated factors, the silent struggle that is taking place within the Arab coalition remains the most dangerous one of all. Given the repercussions of this conflict on its path of war and the daily bloody realities that began to emerge from the many catastrophic errors that have taken place, the main parties affected are those who have committed themselves to achieving progress on the ground or who claim to be in favour of restoring the hijacked state.

Over the past few weeks, many mistakes have been made and these mistakes have caused a clear and significant decline in popular resistance; however, what is even more dangerous is that the capital of the Jawf district fell to Houthi forces and those loyal to the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The fall of the district occurred after resistance fighters encountered airstrikes from the Arab alliance. As a result, more than 20 individuals evacuated the areas on the outskirts of the Saada province, which is known to be a Houthi stronghold.

Afterwards, and even before, three civilian markets were targeted in Imran, Al-Hadida and Lahaj. Tens of people were killed in the process and many material losses also ensued. It appears as though these mistakes were deliberate and that the goal behind their occurrence was to create a sense of popular disapproval when it comes to the airstrikes conducted by the Arab coalition.

The truth is that we have many questions regarding the actualities that are taking place and regarding these apparent errors. Sometimes one has to ask whether or not these are truly mistakes or whether they are operations that are targeting certain areas in order to benefit forces on the ground, ones that are conducted in cooperation with the Arab alliance. For example, popular resistance forces were on the verge of accessing strongholds belonging to Houthi rebels on the border of Jawf province with Saada. They were within walking distance of Houthi strongholds when the coalition’s planes began their airstrikes, causing them to retreat due to death and material losses. As a result, popular resistance forces evacuated Jawf within a matter of a few days.

The same type of scenario unfolded on the Saudi border with Hadhramut when the coalition began an airstrike that killed many popular resistance forces and its leaders such as General Ahmed Yahya Al-Ibara and a number of his comrades. Such events beg us to question the significance of these repeated mistakes and why a proactive investigation has not been launched to look into alleged errors of this nature.

Yet, it is possible that such errors prove to us, in a clear and obvious way that there is a secret conflict within the forces of the Saudi-led Arab collation and especially when it comes to the coalition’s silence in response to suggestions that an investigation take place, since these errors are greatly benefitting pro-coup forces. What this proves time and again is that there is a deep conflict within the coalition’s ranks and this is evident when considering the UAE’s response to the Egyptian government’s decision to allow the Houthi militia to hold an exhibition in Cairo as part of their efforts to expose what they call “the Saud family’s aggression”.

The state of confusion surrounding the situation in Yemen necessitates a need for clarity and openness, not only in regards to these ongoing fatal errors that are taking place, but also the stance of some of the coalition’s participants with regards to the changing internal map of Yemen. Furthermore, there is the talk of the UAE and how it has been working to revive Saleh’s hold over the country as if the Emirates is oblivious to the blatant reality that Saleh and the Houthis are nothing more than a playing card in Iran’s hands. All of these aforementioned factors lead us to question the sense of confusion that has taken place on the ground and the few accomplishments that have been achieved by popular resistance forces with its modest efforts and capabilities.

I believe all of the delays in reaching a solution in Yemen go back to differences among the Yemeni elite in Riyadh or even those that are present on the battlefield. It is important to note that all of the parties in question derive their sense of support and steadfastness from Saudi Arabia and thus, are able to determine the course of the battle in Yemen. It is the Kingdom’s way of indirectly managing actualities in Yemen, especially at this stage.

In short, I believe that the Kingdom is facing a crucial moment when it comes to the reality of its coalition partners’ positions, especially when it comes to the UAE and Egypt, both of whom are currently trying to promote a sense of chaos in the southern region. This will only allow for Iran to gain full control of Yemen. All of these parties need to re-evaluate their positions given the errors that continue to take place time and again on Yemeni soil. They must acknowledge the repercussions of their mistakes and the danger of allowing Yemen to fall under Iranian control.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 14 July 2015.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.