The return of the times of the “happy Yemen” will not be easy by any means after what the Houthi militia inflicted upon the country, after the Yemeni legitimate government failed to find a way out of its years-long crisis, and in light of the Houthis’ insistence on expanding in Marib - where oilfields and the Saudi border are located. All this, as well as other reasons, prompted the Arab coalition to retake the initiative with qualitative operations and all-inclusive strikes that reshape the scene anew.
The operations were marked by the integration required to rearrange priorities politically, humanitarianly, and militarily. The airstrikes dealt a fatal blow to the Houthi militia and to its increasing trespass and insistence on targeting Saudi Arabia, its security, stability, population, and civilian facilities. The Houthis are not concerned with the Yemeni state in any way whatsoever, nor with the Yemeni people, as they are a pawn to the Iranian project and to the directives issued from Tehran.
Multiple factors have allowed the Houthis to persistently target Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles and booby-trapped drones. The most important of these is the conflicting international stance towards Iran and the Houthi militia’s role as a bargaining chip at the Vienna talks, as well as the West’s willingness to turn a blind eye towards all the crimes committed by Iran’s lackeys in order to resume negotiations over the flawed nuclear agreement - even at the risk of undermining Saudi Arabia’s defense capabilities in confronting the Houthis. However, the Kingdom has overcome all of that by initiating direct negotiations with Iran after the latter refused to join the Vienna talks, and through qualitative, multisource, effective, and deep-impact rearmament in a wide-ranging process that rearranged international complexities, as a prelude for political action in support of the Saudi initiative towards Yemen.
Another issue that Saudi Arabia successfully addressed is Yemeni internal contradictions within the legitimate government, which were dealt with by careful planning coupled with wisdom and patience according to a results-oriented policy, notwithstanding that the road ahead is long. Training the Yemeni army, qualifying its leaders, and arming its members required time that was well-spent and has begun to bear fruition.Another factor worth mentioning is corruption, which is a crime that strikes at the very foundations of stable and powerful nations, let alone a state that is hijacked by the Houthi militia and held hostage to the Iranian occupiers. Corruption, in this case, spreads more rampantly and becomes far more detrimental. Some Yemeni political parties and figureheads harbor ideological and regional loyalties that do not necessarily serve the interests of the Yemeni people or end the Yemeni crisis. Some of them have gotten used to living a lavish lifestyle and to the unlimited Saudi support for the Yemeni people, which some misuse to further personal or partisan interests, under a profit-generating umbrella of corruption. Therefore, the continuation of the unresolved crisis best serves their interests - irrespective of the interests of the Yemeni state and the Yemeni people and regardless of the limitless costs incurred by Saudi Arabia and the countries forming the Arab coalition.
Iran’s proxy wars through armed militias and terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have affected a number of Arab countries. It relies upon a policy of patience in penetrating societies followed by extreme cruelty after subjugating these countries to its control. Iran also exhibits flagrant disregard for human beings and their lives and adheres to a strategy of ideological stubbornness and religious and sectarian promises, coupled with the use of narcotics, to encourage armed elements to commit foolhardy suicidal acts when fighting military battles, which is an unwavering Iranian approach. The Houthis in Yemen follow the same path and the same approach.
Figures do not lie. The scale of the Houthi militia’s losses is huge, far-reaching, and influential. The coalition’s strikes that affected all areas of Houthi deployment focused on the headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Lebanese Hezbollah, missile installation and drone factories, and all planning, manufacturing, and training headquarters. It also targeted Houthi militia leaders, military vehicles, fixed and mobile targets, and Houthi air defense systems. The Coalition to Support Legitimacy has pledged to further weaken the sinister capabilities of these militias. The Coalition’s spokesman reminded Houthi leaders of the fate of their leaders who previously insisted on targeting Saudi Arabia, and that those who insist on the same approach will meet the same end.
Saudi aid and relief campaigns for the Yemeni people are incessant and have become a steady and stable methodology that strives with all its might to provide the foundations for a decent life and full care for all spectrums of the Yemeni people, in order to alleviate their suffering as much as possible while constantly defending their rights in all international forums and exposing the practices of the Houthi militia - many of which amount to war crimes against humanity punishable under international law.
The Houthi militia only understands the language of force and weapons and is completely deaf to the language of diplomacy and politics. The clearest example of this is that America deals with them as a Yemeni political actor, while overlooking all their blunders and sins. The United States has revoked their designation as a terrorist organization at the beginning of this year, which was met by the Houthi militia storming the headquarters of the US Embassy in Sanaa, stealing supplies and equipment, arresting dozens of Yemeni workers in the embassy, including guards and civilians, and arresting their families, in flagrant defiance of the insistence of international organizations, from the United Nations to the Security Council, on dealing with them as a Yemeni political actor that can be reasoned with. It is cynical to attempt to remind these terrorist militias of international agreements and of the sanctity of protecting diplomatic premises.
Remembering some historical examples helps us better comprehend the current scene; at the end of the 1970s and after the Khomeini revolution, the US embassy in Tehran was occupied during the term of Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Embassy employees were arrested and taken hostage in an unforgettable story. Whoever observes what is unfolding in Sanaa today can only recall the adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
History teaches us that generations that lose wars without a logical justification and are unable to develop themselves, correct their mistakes, review their structures and institutions, and hold their leaders to account, find it difficult to return to winning wars. The easiest way is to support new generations that are unsoiled by the sins of their predecessors and by the disparities of the past, and give them the full opportunity to correct, build, take responsibility, and assume leadership. At the time being, the Yemeni legitimate government is in dire need of this, with the full support of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen. Some problems can only be resolved by a complete restructuring of the scene, its formulas, and balances.
The Houthi militia is completely obsequious to the Iranian regime and Iran does not seem eager to rejoin negotiations with the West in Vienna. It is being led by the hawkish proponents of the Khomeini revolution and appears more eager to push forward with its nuclear weapons project. All current Western escalation and statements are mere rhetoric intended to pressure Tehran into accepting to return to negotiations, and the countries of the region will not remain silent in the face of a nuclear Iran.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.