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The illusion of containing the Houthis

May 24, 2016 at 2:56 pm

The statement made by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to France’s Le Figaro newspaper regarding the priority of his country’s war in Yemen against Al-Qaeda and Daesh, while leaving out the Houthis, considering them Saudi Arabia’s neighbours, was merely an expression of the clear chaos and confusion in the Saudi strategy and vision. These priorities took centre stage by means of the military operation, Decisive Strom. However, if Saudi Arabia backs down from the priorities of the operation, which include overthrowing the coup and restoring legitimacy in Yemen, it would be nothing less than committing political suicide for the Kingdom and all of the countries participating in its alliance.

This would warrant us to say that the indicators of where the political scene is going in Yemen and the entire region are disappointing and are not cause for optimism regarding the future of the entire region. It sees that the future is unknown and is riddled with loss and fighting on all Arab levels, from Iraq to Syria, Yemen and Libya.

Iran, along with its sectarian arms, is the main actor in these areas. However, these arms are not stronger than those lying in the social fabric of the Gulf societies, i.e. those known as the Saudi, Bahraini, Kuwaiti, etc. versions or copies of Hezbollah. These groups started working in secret in the early 1980s and they are currently in a state of dormancy until the final hour.

As for the Houthis, they are nothing more than the latest and most updated version of exporting the Khomeini revolution. They are the most dangerous and most powerful version, even more so than Hezbollah and the Quds Force itself. This is due to the doctrinal and historical background on which their idea of sectarianism is based, which is more dynamic than any other. Their strength and danger also stems from the slogans they promote and their hidden agendas, which pose a threat to the region’s security and stability.

We are not dealing with an exaggeration of the group’s strength and power, rather, we are dealing with the reality that it has been imposed, which describes the group as one with clear agendas for itself and the region. The group has expressed its agendas for the past ten years of continuous war, which has made it more capable of manoeuvring and more determined, given the state of internal chaos in Yemen and the absence of real national forces that could stand in the face of this chaotic state. Such chaos could not have been turned into stability due to the doctrinal and dogmatic narrow-mindedness that controls the behaviours of the group and its members, as well as its vision for events and its Iranian godfather.

The current mobilisation of sectarian minorities in the Arab region is unprecedented in Arab history and it is most similar to the first phases of the coup against the Umayyad state. It is operating on the basis of the “delusion” of the hereditary right to forcibly rule. This belief is what drives the Shia sectarian groups and it is promoted by the bigger media outlet, which owns hundreds of channels, websites and newspapers, compared to the media outlet opposing it. Instead, its most important channels were breached and were indirectly used to serve the agendas of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist (Wilayat Al-Faqih).

Going back to the Houthis and the illusion of containing them, the first sign of this was shown in Al-Jubeir’s statement, and before then, in the bilateral negotiations held by Saudi Arabia with Houthi representatives in Dhahran. These negotiations ended in a truce on the Saudi-Yemeni border, the exchange of prisoners from both sides, and pushing the rebels and the legitimate party to negotiations in Kuwait. All of this is an indication that there are understandings between the two sides, which some mistakenly believe will lead to permanent peace or something similar. However, the main and core problem and the reason why Saudi Arabia waged a war in Yemen is the restoration of the legitimacy that was overthrown and the protection of its national security from any threat that may endanger its geopolitical existence.

The Houthis are no longer a Yemeni group, at least in the sense of their decisions and guidance. They are merely a card, just like many other cards, possessed by Tehran and used in Baghdad and Sana’a. The Houthis today are nothing more than a military wing directly managed by senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials. They are the ones calling all of the shots and they are almost at the point of acting as the military leaders in Yemen, appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

These facts are no longer a secret and they are being reinforced on a daily basis due to the state of loss and chaos experienced by the legitimacy backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is also due to the lack of a comprehensive vision for the Yemeni scene. Questions including: What now? What needs to be done? How? Are currently being asked and have stumped everyone. This state of confusion, caused by the large vacuum, has tempted Iran to expand its strategic projects and agendas in an area completely lacking forces that will implement an Arab project after Iraq’s consumption, the fall of Syria, and the chaos and loss in Egypt during the most dangerous phases or eras in Arab history since Sykes-Picot.

The danger of this moment in time is intensified by the state of international and UN insistence on the success of the stillborn negotiations in Kuwait on 18 April. The talks have now entered their fourth week and no significant progress has been made, despite the pressures that aim to legitimise the Houthi coup. This would lead to beginning the phase of sectarian minority rule, which seems to be even more likely given the current situation and the state of rapprochement and harmony between Iran and the West and the state of tension between the West and Saudi Arabia in particular. This is especially true in the case of the US and the new crisis regarding Congress’s approval of a decision that allows victims of September 11 to sue Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia responded by potentially withdrawing its investments from the American market.

Our brothers in the Gulf will soon figure out the extent of the misguidance they suffered at the hands of Iranian lobbies, which have acted under a number of guises and which insist on creating a gap between the Gulf decision-makers and the social forces that stand in the way of the Iranian project and its expansion in the region. This gap is in the form of achieving peace in Yemen, which ultimately means handing Yemen over to the mullahs in Qom, after all of the sacrifices made, just like Baghdad, Beirut,and Damascus were handed over in the past. In the eyes of the Iranian project, all of this is nothing more than a phase in its path towards achieving its great Iranian imperial project in the Arab region, and the Houthis are considered one of Iran’s most important tools.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 24 May 2016.

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