In Arabic, we historically call war-torn Yemen “al-Yaman al-Said” which roughly translates into “Happy Yemen” or “Yemen the Joyful.” There are many interpretations for this strange title. One is that this civilization, one of the oldest in Arabia, was “happy” because it lies right of the holy Kabaa in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam.
As for the “cake,” has it been carved out and parts of it given to the Persians in exchange for some kind of deal on Syria? Does this understand on Yemen, if any, seal the fate of the new Middle East?
On 21 September 2014, dramatic developments were recorded in Yemen. Its most powerful manifestation was when Yemeni al-Houthis overran and toke control of state institutions—and in fact the state itself—in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa stepped down on 28 September, and one government agency after another fell to the al-Houthis. Some saw it as grand failure on behalf of Yemeni officialdom. Others claimed that defiance was impossible, so as not to spark off a civil war in the capital Sanaa.
When the UN envoy for Yemen Gamal Benomar arrived in Sanaa to mediate between the government and al-Houthis on 18 September, rather than condemn the al-Houthis, he spoke of the need to reach a political agreement between all sides. His words further confused the situation for Yemeni observers. When President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi announced a “deal” had been in fact reached, he looked more like a besieged man, than a head of state. He no longer had a state, or a government. His supporters and some media sources wrongly portrayed him as having victoriously managed to impose his conditions in the deal hammered out with the al-Houthis. He actually refused to sign the military appendix of the agreement with the al-Houthis and conditioned that they withdraw their militias from Sanaa. This actually made Gamal Benomar’s agreement pointless, if nobody was able to implement its military clauses. One should ask, however, whether those who have just been defeated impose their conditions over the victors?
What happened in Yemen was a dramatic and extremely dangerous development. Without shadow of a doubt, some of the country’s former players will disappear (both tribally and ideologically) and replacing them will be sectarian actors operating freely in an open-ended crisis. Nobody has a firm answer as to how and when it will end, and how? What we do know for now is that the Persian State is the greatest and perhaps only victory from the political and military al-Houthi occupation of Yemen.
According to reports, ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh is clearly implicated in the latest developments of his country. He insisted on destroying the Gulf Initiative for Yemen, which in addition to trying to engineer a serious national dialogue, resulted in his exodus from power three years ago. Additionally, he very enthusiastically bridged the relationship between the al-Houthis and the Persians when their chief, along with 500 Yemeni students, to study at the Shiite religious seminary in Qum, Iran. This is where they received Persian patronage and ideological mentoring, in order to bring down the Gulf Initiative for Yemen. Who are those al-Houthis then, who have just overrun Sanaa and are presenting it as a “cake” to the Persians?
The al-Houthis have been in constant rebellion against the central government of Yemen, armed with a pretext: victimization of the Zaidis, who make up 30% of Muslims in Yemen. The Zaidi imams after all, have ruled Yemen for approximately one thousand years, until the revolution of 1962. After the officers came to power in Yemen, the status of the country’s Zaidis began to hover, as they sunk into ignorance and state negligence. The government today accuses them of wanting to restore their former glory by imposing an imam as head of state.
Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the most famous Zaidi of today, sees himself as that Imam. Some say that they are not Shiites and don’t celebrate Shiite holidays, like Ashoura, as the case in Lebanon and Iraq.
What is noteworthy is that al-Houthi leaders were very careful in dictating their demands, as those demands were not ripe—and thus forced them to resort to arms to make them happen. Never were the al-Houthis peaceful in their requests. During the many stages of their uprising, they rose against ex-President Saleh, raising revolutionary slogans and never resting, shedding doubt over the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) motives in Yemen on 23 November 2011.
The al-Houthis went to the national dialogue with one condition after another, and regardless of their impediments, the dialogue proceeded, although sluggishly. They then waited for the opportune moment to besiege Sanaa, after having overtaken militarily each of Sa’dah (northwest) and Amran (west central) last July. This resulted in loss of life, both for civilians and military officials, and a huge population exodus, where people left their homes and fled to safer places. They are still engaged militarily in al-Jawf. The Yemeni President accused them of being “wild young boys who only want to rule Yemen” and of “not caring for national fundamentals.” Such accusations, of course, fall nicely within the interests of the Persian State.
If we ask ourselves where al-Houthi support is coming from, we will find that President Saleh often said that the Lebanese Hizbullah were the ones to train the al-Houthis how to fire missiles, plant mines, and use various weapons. Other sources confirm that the al-Houthis were trained by none other than the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. In October 2009, Sanaa announced that it confiscated weapons onboard an Iranian ship transferring anti-tank weapons to the al-Houthis. The international intelligence bulletin Stratfor confirms that al-Qaeda’s headquarters in the Arabian Peninsula are in Yemen, and they are backed by Iran. This is the same terrorist group that was accused of trying to down a commercial airplane, Northwest Airlines Flight 253, in Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.
Yemeni President Mansour Hadi has said publically: “The Persian State is interfering in the affairs of Yemen, and it has four proxy channels operating within Yemen, in addition to Iranian advisers to Abdul Malik al-Houthi.” He added that two officers from the Revolutionary Guard wanted to build a missile factory in Yemen, before they were arrested. It must be noted that there are 1,600 Yemeni al-Houthis currently studying in the Persian State.
The situation Yemen, like elsewhere in countries of Arab revolutions, suffers from grave and complex problems, ranging from economic woes to political rivalries and ambitions. In a country torn apart by sectarian, tribal, and regional tension, it is clear that Yemen is heading firmly towards partition.
As talk of separatism gains steam in the south, and while the al-Houthis try to seize power unliterary in the north, Sana accuses outside forces of fuelling the war and meddling in Yemeni domestics to achieve their own political ends, at the expense of the Yemeni people. President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has named them clearly: the Persians, as the main backers of the al-Houthi Shiites in North Yemen. The al-Houthis themselves insist that they will remain an integral part of a united Yemen, although with wider autonomous powers in the north.
The lack of trust between the al-Houthis and Sanaa is clear, especially after the former insisted to still carry arms even after an agreement was reached with the government. This escalation is hard to understand and it truly is invalid. It reflects a strong separatist tendency wanting to tear up Yemen. It threatens unity of the country and destroys all efforts at reaching a political settlement over the past three years.
Only now will the expansion of the Persian State have truly started. But will the Persian dream stop at the gates of al-Yemen al-Said (Happy Yemen)? Or will it expand further? Time will tell and time will be quick—in the age of technology, alas.
Soon, our research and discussion will be about the future of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Original article in Arabic: http://nahedojjeh.com/?p=672