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Sinking feeling in Riyadh over Yemen failure

Yusuf Dhia-Allah

Killing a lot of civilians and destroying much of Yemen’s infrastructure does not amount to a “Saudi” victory. What would the Najdi Bedouins do now?

The Najdi Bedouins have gotten themselves into a royal mess in Yemen. Unable to defeat the Ansarullah fighters who through close links with a number of other tribes have consolidated their position in the country, the Saudis have gone berserk with their bombing campaign. They had announced a five-day hiatus in attacks that ended just before midnight on May 17 but they immediately resumed their savage attacks on the people of Yemen.

What precisely do they hope to achieve by such criminal acts in which almost 4,000 Yemeni civilians have been murdered according to figures released by the Freedom House Foundation (UN figures for the same period give a total of 1,820 civilians killed and 7,330 injured)? Their attacks, launched since March 26, have failed to achieve any of their objectives — Ansarullah fighters withdrawing to their northern base, surrendering their weapons and allowing the fugitive president ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to be reinstated in power — except for killing thousands of innocent civilians and destroying virtually the whole of Yemen’s infrastructure.

The UN estimates that 545,719 people have been displaced because of the destruction of their homes while 12 million people are food insecure. Adding insult to injury and misery — deliberately done, one might add, because the Najdi Bedouins want the Yemenis to surrender — they are preventing any humanitarian aid from being delivered to Yemen. Attempts by the Islamic Republic of Iran to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid using cargo planes have been turned back twice. The planes had prior clearance from Omani as well as Yemeni air traffic control. In one instance, the Saudis bombed the runway at Sana‘a International Airport preventing the Iranian relief plane from landing to deliver such aid.

Determined to help the besieged people of Yemen, the Islamic Republic sent a humanitarian aid ship that left Bandar Abbas port on May 11 to deliver food, water, and medicines. As the ship that had a number of international peace activists on board made its way to the Yemeni port of Hudeidah, the Saudis threatened to stop it. This prompted a blunt warning from Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Masoud Jazayeri, “I openly declare that the self-restraint of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not limitless.” He was quoted by the Arabic-language al-‘Alam TV on May 12, “Both Saudi Arabia and its novice rulers, as well as the Americans and others, should be mindful that if they cause trouble for the Islamic Republic with regard to sending humanitarian aid to regional countries, it will spark a fire, the putting out of which would definitely be out of their hands.”

The Najdi Bedouins’ obstructionist policy vis-à-vis any aid being delivered to the besieged people of Yemen is akin to the Zionist policy of besieging the tiny Gaza Strip. In both cases, predatory powers are starving innocent people for political objectives but without achieving any significant results. There are other parallels as well between Saudi and Zionist policies. Both claim to want “peace” while waging war. Riyadh and Tel Aviv do not have diplomatic relations but that has not prevented them from embracing each other.

It is revealing that on May 17, the Saudis held a so-called peace conference on Yemen in Riyadh while resuming bombing of the impoverished country. The five-day halt in Saudi aerial attacks did not really mean no bombing; instead, there was merely a reduction in such attacks. At the Riyadh “conference,” the principal victims of Saudi aggression — the Houthis — were not present. They boycotted the so-called conference because they said the Najdi Bedouins were not a neutral party in this conflict.

The UN Special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, speaking at the same conference in Riyadh said a halt to bombings should be extended for another five days to facilitate delivery of desperately needed food, water, and medicines to the people of Yemen. The Najdi Bedouins were not interested in such humanitarian gestures; they have gone berserk over their failure to achieve their objectives.

If bombing civilians could achieve military or political objectives, the Americans would have Afghanistan under their boot and the Zionists would be in total control of Gaza. Unlike the Americans and the Zionists, the Najdi Bedouins do not have any strategy apart from causing massive civilians casualties and the destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure. They are also grossly incompetent. The last time they attacked Yemen (December 2009), hundreds of Saudi soldiers surrendered to Ansarullah fighters. The regime had to pay millions of dollars in compensation before it could secure amnesty for its soldiers.

This explains why the Najdi Bedouins asked Pakistan and Egypt to send troops to help fight their war on Yemen. While both can do with some cash from the petrodollar stuffed monarchy, neither is prepared to risk their soldiers in an unwinnable and immoral war. The Egyptian regime of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is embroiled in suppressing a determined political opposition on the one hand and an insurgency on the other. Besides, the last time the Egyptian army was involved in fighting in Yemen in the early-1960s, it lost nearly 50,000 troops. This contributed to Egypt’s humiliating defeat in the June 1967 war against Zionist Israel.

The Pakistan army is overstretched fighting terrorist outfits on its own soil. These terrorists are the product of madrasahs that have polluted their minds with the Wahhabis’ hate-filled ideas. These madrasahs are funded by Saudi petrodollars and have penetrated Pakistani society over several decades, turning the once tolerant country into a hotbed of hate and murder. It takes gall for the Najdi Bedouins to now ask the Pakistan army to fight their war in Yemen while they are the principal sponsors of the terrorists that have caused so much mayhem in Pakistan.

The Najdis’ worries are understandable even if completely unjustified. The war on Yemen is the responsibility of King Salman and his young upstart son Muhammad bin Salman who is the country’s Defence Minister. The young “prince” is in his early-30s and is known to be brash and arrogant. This was supposed to be his moment to make his mark on the political stage. Instead, the Yemeni imbroglio is likely to prove his undoing. That is why signs of panic are so clearly visible in Riyadh.

In the snake pit of the Najdi Bedouins’ inner sanctum, some “royals” must be chortling at the misfortune facing Muhammad bin Salman and his demented father. This is especially true of the sons of the late King Abdullah many of whom were unceremoniously dismissed from their posts even while their father’s body had not yet become fully stiff. The curved daggers must be out. Infighting cannot be ruled out even if publicly the Najdi Bedouins maintain an artificial air of civility and unity.

Salman has one foot in the grave; even if he is alive, he is incapable of making coherent decisions. Insiders say that he forgets what he had said merely five minutes earlier. Almost all decisions are made by the brutal Mohammed bin Nayef, who is both Crown Prince and Interior Minister, and Muhammad bin Salman, the deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister. Unlike bin Nayef, bin Salman has little experience. He has picked up a hot potato by launching the war on Yemen and then demonstrably failed to garner external support from those the regime has traditionally relied upon. Even the Americans have given largely rhetorical support, but do not wish to get embroiled in another ill-conceived and ultimately futile war.

Aware that they are staring into an abyss in Yemen, the Najdi Bedouins have resorted to crude propaganda on television, radio, and in public statements. Marshal music and extreme forms of jingoism accompany such claims. Artists have been given free rein to make murals, some bordering on blasphemy. One shows King Salman, with Muhammad bin Nayef and son Muhammad bin Salman slightly behind him against the backdrop of white wings! This was quickly dubbed the “unholy trinity” (the wings depicted angels). The Najdi Bedouins are no angels; they are mass murderers and war criminals. What is quite revealing is that the Kingdom’s court ‘ulama who are quick to denounce others even over perfectly legitimate matters, have issued no fatwas of bid‘ah.

Murals, marshal music and rhetoric, however, are no substitute for fighting a war on the ground. The Najdi Bedouins are incapable of doing so and even their close friends have turned down their repeated requests. There is only one way out of their self-inflicted predicament: a UN-sponsored conference at which all political factions in Yemen should participate. This cannot be held in Riyadh or the capital of any other aggressor country; it must be held in a neutral capital, as suggested by Dr. Ali Akbar, foreign policy advisor to the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, during a conference in Beirut on May 18. He said that a permanent cessation of bombing of Yemen was a pre-requisite for any peace in the war-torn country.

International law experts are of the opinion that Saudi officials could be hauled before the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Yemen. If the Najdi Bedouins had any sense — a big if — they would heed this suggestion and stop their murderous assault on Yemen that is taking them deeper into a quagmire. But one must not assume that they will act rationally; they are like a wounded beast thrashing about, causing more harm both to itself and others. Ultimately, they will cause their own downfall. Their Yemeni misadventure may be one too many for the crude Bedouins.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 4

Sha'ban 14, 14362015-06-01

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