Gulf normalisation with Israel is picking up pace due to the tremendous electoral pressure imposed by US President Donald Trump on the states which are existentially linked to America for their security. Another common denominator that unites all of the normalisers is their participation in a military coalition fighting in Yemen that still claims to be there in order to protect the legitimate government-in-exile and allow it to return to the country.
Five years since the coalition’s intervention, it seems that Yemen is facing more serious challenges than before. Rival local parties now face the entry of another regional player that is intended to provide the coalition with protection from accountability as it continues to target Yemen and its sovereignty. The coalition wants to impose the option of splitting Yemen up by attracting Israel to areas where the security, strategic and vital interests of most regional countries meet.
The first wave brought on by the normalisation agreement between Israel and the UAE hit the beaches of the Socotra Archipelago. The islands were almost closed by military influence and multinational intelligence activity under the Saudi and UAE umbrella, most of which was carried out by Israel.
All the people in Socotra are aware that the enemy is now located in their country, and its experts move about freely under that Arab umbrella. They are redirecting the archipelago’s function from being a vital part of Yemen to being a stab in the back of Arab national security. This hurts the dignity of Socotra’s people, who are Yemenis through and through, with an established affiliation of Yemeni Arab Muslim identity.
It was not surprising, therefore, that many figures in Socotra who sided with the UAE project in the archipelago are now opposed to and rejecting any Emirati role.
It doesn’t seem that Saudi Arabia will join the UAE-led bandwagon of normalisation with Israel, yet, but it has provided everything in support, thus confirming that it blesses the move by the Emirates and latterly Bahrain. Nor is Riyadh expressing any sensitivity about the Israeli presence in the Socotra Archipelago governorate, where a Saudi military base is located. However, it does not seem to want the UAE to be in control of the results of the very dangerous openness with the Israelis and dragging them into a battle for regional domination, where Turkey is the obvious target. This battle looks like having Socotra, the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab and the Gulf of Aden as a key arena.
I believe that the margin of freedom afforded to the legitimate Yemeni government based in Riyadh to express its rejection of normalisation with Israel is nothing but a tactic on the part of Saudi Arabia to distance itself from the direct consequences and negative repercussions of the Israeli presence in Yemen. This presence in itself is one of the shocking results of the coalition war led by Saudi Arabia in its southern neighbour.
We are facing a dangerous development that places this war in a new and different context. The regional confrontation established by direct and indirect Iranian intervention in Yemen has tempted Riyadh to divert the course of the battle.
The coalition’s intervention has clearly changed from support for a neighbouring country and the restoration of its state while building sustainable peace based upon national partnership, and all under the umbrella of the federal democratic state. It is now a confrontation with ethnic and sectarian standpoints.
Saudi Arabia has pushed its Salafi brigades into a battle with what it calls the Iranian rejectionists, parallel with a war on the values on which the national battle of the Yemenis is based. This is in addition to the required recognition of the principle of partnership between the political components and the different parties, so that this intervention turns into an aggressive and subversive activity, and a Trojan horse to bring the enemies of the nation into Yemeni territories.
As such, there is nothing worse than the exaggerations filling the Saudi and Emirati-controlled media and political discourse. They claim that these two countries are engaged in a battle to defend Arab national security, and that they are continuing their military interventions in more than one Arab country to enclose the regional geography and protect it from external ambitions.
This claim is refuted by the facts on the ground, because some of the manifestations of the military intervention of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are heading for the dismantling of Yemen and the seizing of its most important sites. They are also heading toward eliminating the Arab people’s right to choose change, democracy and the peaceful transfer of power.
The most dangerous thing is that this bilateral military intervention in the Arab countries has unleashed a fierce war against the established principles of the Arab nation and consensus regarding central issues, beginning with the Palestinian cause. This is an attempt to build an alternative consensus based on the idea of accepting the integration of Israel into the Arab environment, as both a master and guarantor.
In return for this blatant approach, the Saudis and Emiratis continue to sacrifice and demonise the Palestinian people, isolate the Palestinian Authority, and pursue and arrest the leaders of the Palestinian people, many of whom languish in Saudi prisons despite living peacefully in the Kingdom for years.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.