I find the English proverb “slow and steady” the best way to describe the course of the Decisive Storm and Restoring Hope operations in Yemen as everyone now sees the natural outcome of this war and crisis
A continuous collapse of the Iran-backed Houthi militia is obvious from the outcome of battles, with the advance of the national armies supported by the coalition forces that uphold legitimacy.
One of the most recent important trends is the growing dissent within Houthi ranks over the decision to assassinate former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the assassination of important people in the General People's Congress after the death of Saleh.
Many Congress leaders and members have also decided to side with legitimacy and keep away from the Houthi militia, resulting in the latter’s collapse on almost all fronts. This points to the direction of the war and its final outcome against the Houthis.
The major problem facing Yemen is that many leaders and movements in the country want to settle their scores and secure their petty interests before the war lays down its burden. Each party has set its agenda in accordance with its current needs and priorities on the basis of their own parochial interests, not according to the interests of Yemen. Only Yemenis are capable of resolving their issues.
To achieve very narrow objectives, Houthis took control of Yemen. Their petty calculations could not resolve the issues, but it seems cleansing Yemen of this militia might take time. Does this mean that the Yemen issue is the result of an internal problem?
Of course not! Yemeni crisis has led to several wars between various militia and the Yemeni state, but over the years it has evolved regionally with Iran making long term investment in the Houthi militia. This happened in the wake of the Obama administration’s retreat and withdrawal from action, causing the eventual coup in Yemen that supported the Iranian agenda with Qatar’s unstinted support.
Continued pressure on Iranian means pressure on its terrorist proxies, from Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (including the Houthi militia in Yemen) to al-Qaeda, Taliban, the remnants of ISIS and HamasAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
There is one condition for ending the conflict in Yemen — restoration of the full legitimacy of the state and the reconstruction of Yemen. There is the need to eliminate the militias that have taken control of the state, its political factions and its citizenry.
As Houthi leaders face increasing threat because of the millions of dollars worth of bounty placed on their heads, their rank and file are left with the choice to be either loyal, retreat or die. This was expressed by the Houthi leader Saleh Al-Samaad in his statements last Thursday in his attempt to reconcile with the Congress leaders, whom Houthis have placed under house arrest.
The Houthis only think from the mindset of a militia that is supported by foreigners, not the mentality of popular political movements backed by the people. They deal with all the parties and national forces with the rationale of brute power. Like Khomeini’s Iran, they like to intimidate, threaten and enforce control with excessive power; which is the way a brutal adversary thinks. This is not the way patriots think, even if they are rebellious or overzealous.
Iran’ support for terror
There have been several international obstacles that have prevented the end of the war earlier, but change appears afoot with the Yemeni crisis clearly indicating that the end of war is nigh. What happened to ISIS in Iraq and Syria will also happen to the Houthi militia in Yemen.
The policy to overlook terrorism has now been rejected. It had became scandalous for the most powerful force in US, after Obama's departure and the advent of Trump. Once a unified international policy emerged to confront ISIS in Iraq and Syria the militia vaporized.
It had earlier grown enormously not because of its inherent strength, but because of the international weakness in confronting it. When the time came for serious confrontation, ISIS vanished like any pack of small-time criminals. Houthi militia will have to be ready to face a similar fate.
The Iranian regime is the biggest supporter of terrorism, chaos, drug trafficking and radicalization in the region and the world. It faces major challenges, important and troubling international pressure led by US and regionally led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, topped by the UAE and Bahrain.
Iranian decision-makers are under pressure, no matter how hard they may try to take refuge in the alliance with Turkey and Qatar. They are experiencing internal crises, protests and uprisings, which will continue to rise and ebb. The strength of the regime and of its institutions are being obviously destroyed because of their disputes.
The continued pressure on the Iranian regime means pressure on all its terrorist proxies in the region, from the Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (including the Houthi militia in Yemen) to al-Qaeda, Taliban and the remnants of ISIS and Hamas. When its supporter Iran becomes weaker, Houthis shall weaken as well, especially as Qatar faces the boycott of four countries.
As its financial activities in supporting and financing terrorism are scrutinized, it makes it difficult for it to support the Houthi militia in an unprecedented manner. Finally, only Yemenis can rescue Yemen. With all the great support of the Arab coalition to help Yemen regain its state, security and stability, along with the complete elimination of the Houthi militia and its destruction in a slow but steady process.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.
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