Yemen’s Ansarallah fighters have proved more than a match for the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen. Together with their allies they have forged ahead to establish a governing council in Sana‘a, the capital.
On August 20, Yemenis took to the streets of the capital, Sana‘a in an unprecedented show of force and solidarity with the resistance movement led by the Ansarallah (aka the Houthis). The resistance has stood up to the Saudi-led aggression, which was launched in March 2015, defying all odds.
If anyone still wondered where the Yemenis’ loyalty really lies, the million-man march and rally should have settled that. Further, any lingering doubts about the Houthis’ legitimacy, and their right to govern the embattled country should be laid to rest.
Both the carrier and representative of popular will, the Houthis have long drawn their strength from the religious tradition they not only embody but actually safeguard. For all the lies the mainstream media have been keen to perpetuate about the Houthis in order to delegitimize the resistance, one ought to remember that it is the Houthis who acted as a barrier against the dogmatic Wahhabist Bani Saud, long before its planes invaded the skies of Yemen and started to bomb the poorest country in the region.
For decades it has been those proud tribesmen from northern Sa‘ada who called on the Yemenis to defend their country’s sovereignty against Saudi imperialism and its army of Wahhabi zealots. “We won’t bow down to the House of Saud,” chanted the massive crowd.
“We will never bow down to the criminal House of Saud,” the millions repeated in unison, braving the threat of Saudi bombs and missiles. To the sound of explosions and screaming warplanes overhead it is as a sovereign and united people that the Yemenis stood their ground: the coming together of a multitude under the banner of resistance.
Never before did Yemen witness such a coming together of tribal factions and political parties. For the first time in its history Yemenis looked beyond their immediate loyalties to celebrate, and express pluralism. If the Saudi regime wanted through its military aggression to fracture the impoverished country and divide its people, it failed miserably.
If Bani Saud thought they could subdue a people by destroying their country thereby preparing the ground to impose their own will on them, the Saudi-led war of aggression has actually succeeded in igniting the Yemenis’ determination to resist. Yemen could prove the spark that may set the Kingdom on fire. Bearing in mind that the Resistance forces have already carved a path through Saudi Arabia’s southern provinces of Najran, Asir, and Jizan, such an eventuality may not be too far fetched.
If Yemen entered this imposed war a broken land, it has now arisen as a sovereign and pluralistic society. Its people have been empowered, awakened to their true identity of independence with dignity. War has transformed Yemen into the very republic it once desired to be.
Yemen’s rally also came to usher a new political era as it marked its divorce from the tutelage of both foreign powers and Saudi Arabia. Away from the diktat of Riyadh and its allies, Yemen proclaimed its own future through the declaration of its Supreme Political Council. With Yemen’s political transition complete, it will now work to reclaim its land, its institutions, and its political narrative.
What lessons can be taken away from the August 20 mass rally? Muhammad Asiri, a Yemen-based political analyst noted in an interview for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, “Yemen reinvented itself that day. For the first time in the Republic’s history all political persuasions and tribal factions came together under one banner. The Southern Movement was there, Ansarallah was there, the General People’s Congress was there, tribal leaders were there, religious clerics were there; the military was there… the people were there. I don’t think that many countries can claim to have witnessed such national unity under such duress! Yemenis braved [Bani] Saud’s bombs to express their right to political determination. This is unprecedented! Yemen came into its own this August and there will be no turning back from this point on.”
Indeed, Yemen is no longer waiting on outside powers to determine what future it should embrace. Beyond a grand proclamation of popular legitimacy and sovereignty, Yemen also singlehandedly demolished Riyadh’s sectarian narrative, proving once and for all that whatever sectarianism had existed in Yemen, it only emanated from Riyadh. This was yet another manifestation of the asymmetrical warfare of neo-imperialism.
What about peace negotiations? In light of Yemen’s determination to navigate its own political and institutional waters, and largely safe from the possibility of a mass genocide, external powers will have to eventually capitulate to Sana‘a’s will, and come to terms with Southern Arabia’s new order. The dark shadow of Bani Saud will no longer blot Yemen’s skies. “Our hands are extended not in surrender but in peace with the entire world,” said Saleh Ali al-Sammad, president of the Supreme Political Council, during the rally. Even as Yemen remains at war, one that is imposed upon it, it is already planning its future. Who can deny the people such a right that have stood up to military titans?
While signs of acceptance of this reality on the part of outside powers are still faint, the writing nevertheless has begun to appear on the wall. How else should one interpret Washington’s recall of its military advisors from Riyadh?
The dynamics of this war of attrition against Yemen are quickly changing. Against all odds, Yemen is winning. Many experts would argue that it already has since the resistance has forced the US and the UK to retreat both politically and militarily.