On Thursday, I awoke to news that brought peace of mind and filled my heart with pride, feelings I’m certain are shared by my Emirati compatriots and nationals of GCC states, and all dignified Arabs. Finally, we have taken command of our own destiny and control of our own security. For many decades, I’ve been longing for this very moment. Just when Yemen was going the way of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – all Arab countries under Iranian domination via proxies – the tide is turning in our favour as I write.
It goes without saying that conflict should always be a last option, but there can be no meaningful dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a nation with ambitions of reinstating the Persian Empire and quashing Arabs under its boot, just as it has stamped upon Sunnis and ethnic/religious minorities in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq as well as the long-suffering Ahwazi Arabs.
Perhaps Iran can succeed in pulling the wool over the eyes of the P5 +1 whose representatives are negotiating over Tehran’s uranium enrichment program, but it cannot con its Gulf neighbours, who’ve fallen foul of Iran’s tricks time and time again.
There should be no stopping until Yemen is cleansed of pro-Iranian traitors and the legitimate government is reinstated in the capital, Sana’a. There should be no concessions made to the Shiite Houthi militias; those Iranian operatives have forfeited the right to call themselves ‘Arab’. They are betrayers deserving of the severest of punishments.
Fighters who choose to surrender do not merit trials; they should be shipped to their ideological motherland, Iran. Their actions - dissolving parliament, ejecting the democratically-elected president, taking over government buildings and terrorising Yemenis from north to south - constitute the ultimate betrayal.
I’ve observed Iran’s ideological and geopolitical expansion with great sorrow - and have long feared that without strong actions to thwart Iran’s aims, Gulf States risk being targeted next. But now that Saudi Arabia has launched “Operation Decisive Storm” together with its Gulf allies in Yemen’s defence at the request of the internationally-recognised government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, I feel that a positive new page has been turned. This is what we have been hoping-for; this is what our people want.
Militias who make obeisance to the ayatollahs and have made armed incursions into Saudi Arabia cannot be permitted control over Yemen’s airplanes, missiles, tanks and other military equipment. And neither can they be trusted not to hold siege to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that not only connects the Red sea with the Indian Ocean but is also a link to the Suez Canal.
We don’t require a green light from anyone to defend our land
Kudos to those GCC leaders who were courageous enough to take the right decisions! History will record this brave stance you have taken to defend Yemen’s sovereignty and our region’s security. Today, we have leaders willing to lead rather than follow diktats from big powers. Your names will be engraved on monuments and will remain in the hearts of our children and grandchildren. Bravo! May God help you always to do what is best for our Arab nation!
Defensive military intervention
‘Decisive Storm’ is the perfect name for this defensive military intervention taken by the descendants of some of the greatest Arab leaders beginning with the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), whose victorious mantel was adopted by the second Muslim Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab, commander of the Muslim armies who defeated Khosrau, King of Persia and Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor.
We are showing Iran and the world that we will no longer bury our heads in the sand while keeping up the pretence that all is well. We are displaying our strength with a massive show of military might thanks also to staunch backing from our allies – Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan, which have all pledged to contribute to this righteous battle. Thank you to all our friends who didn’t hesitate to stand with their Yemeni brothers in their hour of need.
It is my hope that the Arab League Summit to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh on March 28-29 will be just as decisive in its backing of a Joint Arab Force able to tackle any emergency in our part of the world. We can no longer rely on our western allies to do the job for us, especially when their foreign policies are muddled and incoherent. The U.S. is courting Iran in Switzerland and sharing intelligence with the Iranian military supposedly ‘advising’ the Iraqi Army in its campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), even as it supports the Syrian opposition battling Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah defending the criminal Assad regime.
I must admit that I’ve been irritated watching Western and Arab analysts discuss Yemen on various television networks. Invariably, presenters all ask the same question: Was ‘Decisive Storm’ launched with approval from the Obama administration? What kind of question is that?
Treated like underage children
We don’t require a green light from anyone to defend our land, the safety of our peoples or our collective dignity. As a nation of 367 million, acknowledged as the birthplace of civilisation, we resent being treated like underage children. We neither need nor should seek permission from anyone.
It is my fervent hope that once Yemen is delivered from the Houthi epidemic, this Saudi-led coalition made-up of ten likeminded countries will be preserved and will turn its attention of freeing Iraq from Persian occupation. Iraq must be ruled by loyal Arabs, whether Sunni or Shiite, not those on bended knee to a foreign state working against Arab interests.
And, God willing, the day will come when our beloved Lebanon and Syria will no more be enslaved to Iran’s bullying proxies, provided our leaders keep up this historic patriotic impetus. If we don’t free our Arab territories from the silent diseases tearing them apart, the peoples of the Gulf and those of our allies will remain in constant danger.
Lastly, I must congratulate our GCC leaders. You have made us proud. Your firm action permits us to hold our heads high; I pray that you will continue to defend our nation, our independence and our dignity. And to our armed forces, especially our pilots that risk their lives during every mission, I wish you every success. Keep safe and may God strengthen you in your task of protecting our Arab soil, our Yemeni brothers and sisters and our honour.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and the has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad.
Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books.
Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.