Some American analysts have gone beyond the views of the State Department towards the war in Yemen and said that the Houthis have won against the Saudi Arabia-led coalition as if the Yemeni people no longer exist. The administration of US President Joe Biden, they insist, must acknowledge this fact. It's unbelievable.
This is exactly what was stated in an article by a researcher at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Annelle Sheline, published in Foreign Policy, which is issued by the Council on Foreign Relations. It tries to be a sincere attempt to take the debate on the humanitarian crisis and war in Yemen to a realistic space, although such an article does not reflect wisdom or knowledge, rather an offensiveness and elitist opportunism.
I am not in denial about this. It became clear on many occasions at the height of the war and political conflict against the backdrop of the 2017-21 blockade of Qatar, that it was possible for money and external agendas to redirect the convictions of the US political class towards imposing a fait accompli to break the will of ordinary people wherever and whenever.
If matters are to be calculated according to the use of excessive force by armed gangs and extremist groups and those who support them, as Sheline believes, then no one has more right to govern the US than Donald Trump. Powerful right-wing groups loyal to him did, after all, manage to bring Congress to a standstill with just one incident. How much more could they have done if pushed?
If we relied on Sheline's logic, we would not have seen the people of Kosovo liberated from the clutches of Serbia, nor would we have seen a viable state for the Muslim population of Bosnia Hercegovina. The most obvious example in the Middle East relates to decades of conflict in Palestine, in which, according to some American researchers, Israel should dominate, influence, and control everything and everyone from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. They also believe that the Palestinians, who have centuries-old roots in the country, should be expelled because of the violence of Zionist terrorists in fulfilment of Britain's infamous Balfour Declaration.
However, the Yemeni people who have struggled for freedom, dignity, and the realisation of a state built on citizenship and partnership have not lost their dream. Nor have they lost the will to achieve their goal. The people do not lack the courage and the possibility of victory over the seditious terrorist groups that were imposed by regional countries with the support of the major powers. They defeated the Houthis in Marib and Taiz and thwarted their plan for a decisive victory, which was meant to coincide with the negotiations conducted by the US envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, with Houthi representatives in Muscat, and with Washington's pressure on Riyadh to stop the war in any way and at any cost.
All of these countries have stuck to a false and fatal narrative that saw Yemen as the second-largest haven in the world for Al-Qaeda elements, a narrative developed by the neighbouring Saudi regime as it wanted to re-employ the elements classified as terrorists to give the illusion that it had succeeded in cleaning up its own backyard. However, it did nothing more than pushing those elements into Yemen, like recycled products under complete control. Al-Qaeda was, remember, a creation of the Saudi ideological production line funded generously by Saudi Arabia and the US to counter the communist tide and support the "jihad" in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. The dictatorial regime in Sana'a, headed by Ali Abdullah Saleh, contributed to this, as he sought an open opportunity to remain in power on the pretext of fighting terrorism. He would have succeeded if not for the popular revolution in Yemen in February 2011 (the Yemen Spring), which unfortunately only toppled part of his regime but did not uproot it.
Look at Yemen today and consider who holds the most weapons and has the most influence. You will find that those who once worked full-time to suggest that Al-Qaeda is dominating the country, are the same people who today are repositioning themselves as forces fighting for the imposition of the Zaidi Shia state in the north. They are supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a separatist state, and perhaps even countries and entities in the south of the country backed by the UAE, whose ambassador asked for blessings from the leader of the most extreme religious party in Israel.
In the end, you will find that you are facing projects which serve regional political agendas and the expansionist ambitions of those expressing loyalty to the new leaders. They are also serving the major powers that wish to sell more weapons to oil exporters.
The demand to abandon UN Resolution 2016 issued in April 2015 regarding Yemen is a dangerous sign that the international organisation may be turning into an interior decorator reshaping the arenas of confrontations and shaping decisions according to the will of the dominant powers, not according to the criteria of sustainable peace based on a clear commitment to inalienable rights. These include the right to live in peace according to the people's will, not according to what is dictated by armed groups.
I believe that backing down from the Saudi initiative will make Annelle Sheline's narrative correct. If Saudi Arabia made a mistake by confiscating the will of the legitimate authority that supports it and announcing its initiative for a ceasefire, the only thing that makes Riyadh's position acceptable to most of the Yemeni people is to develop the support mechanisms provided to the government and to stop confiscating the political decision of the legitimate authority. It must also end the danger of the Southern Transitional Council and instead redirect it at least to align with the disastrous Riyadh Agreement.
If not, a handful of those who are busy making predictions in their comfortable, well-furnished offices in American think tanks can go on to shape the future that they determine to be fit for us. Even worse is for us to accept the fact that the Iran-backed sectarian Houthi gang in Sana'a and the UAE-backed separatist gang in Aden are good choices to exercise power in a country where hundreds of thousands have fallen in an effort to make sure that the Yemeni people do not lose their freedom and dignity.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 6 June 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.