During six decades of Saudi-Yemeni relations following the coup against the imamate of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, Riyadh dealt with the two sides, Sanaa and Aden, with wisdom, tolerance, and patience. Saudi Arabia did not alter its attitude even though the north and south of Yemen, with their different ideological references, stood many times against Saudi Arabia and were even involved in extremely hostile activities. Despite all that, Riyadh handled every situation on a case-by-case basis and with great sapience.
Even in the first 2009 war waged by the Iran-backed Houthi militia, the Saudi response was restrained for a clear reason; there was a strong central government in Sanaa that Saudi Arabia can directly deal with. This meant that responding to Houthi terrorism did not necessarily require declaring a war against the Republic of Yemen.
However, the situation changed after the Houthis became a hostile entity, occupying the capital and attempting to abolish the Yemeni republic to establish a new Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist) that answers to Iran. And for the first time in modern history, a militia has come to possess state-level capabilities in terms of weapons and money, with no political experience that enables it to deal with its rivals with diplomacy and tact, because of its allegiance to and reliance on others.
Riyadh, with the authorization of the international community, supported the Yemeni government and its army in their war against the Houthis. Saudi Arabia’s result came as an answer to the call for help from Yemen’s legitimate government, on behalf of its people, in order to protect the country from abuse, vandalism, and the forced disappearance from the Arab space and international community, as well as from being under the influence of Tehran.
Saudi Arabia would not have taken this costly position on behalf of the international community if it decided to shirk its national duty and give up its sacred position in the Muslim world. Riyadh refused to turn a blind eye to Tehran’s actions, which is a Saudi position that has not changed since day one, despite the opposition and the lack of understanding from the international community at times. However, everyone knows that, at the end of the day, this Saudi position is the right one, especially when they know about the conspiracies and hidden agendas of Riyadh's opponents.
Thus, the legitimate Yemeni government, and not the Saudi army or the allied forces, is the one concerned with achieving military and political victory in Yemen. Suggesting that the Saudis have not achieved victory is a huge deception promoted by the Iranian media and its remnants that are spread in Arab and Western media. Riyadh did not promise to defeat the Houthis, nor did it legitimize war. The Saudi government does not adopt a military doctrine, so much so that many are amazed by Riyadh’s patience in dealing with its conflicts.
Since the war began in Saada, and then extended to Sanaa, it has been waged between the Yemeni army, led by President Abdrabbuh Hadi, and a terrorist organization, led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps through the Houthis. This is the reality of what is happening on the ground in Yemen.
The Saudis do not seek to achieve a military victory whatsoever; rather, it seeks to aid the legitimate government to achieve victory and spread peace in Yemen whenever it so decides, so that it can return to ruling Yemen from its capital; Sanaa. Riyadh did not enter this war, which killed, injured, and harmed its civilians, in search for glory; Saudi Arabia got involved in this war in support of a nation wronged by the Houthi militia and the international interventions that do not care about the Yemeni people’s suffering as much as they care about achieving victories and implementing their agendas in the Arab region. If Saudi Arabia was looking for a victory and it did not care for the mass slaughter of Yemenis, then the battle would have ended in its first month.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi newspaper Al Okaz.
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