Yemen: the result of disastrous Saudi policy

Yemen: the result of disastrous Saudi policy
3 min read
15 Apr, 2015
Comment: The war in Yemen is the result of an overlap of Saudi-funded counter-revolutions and Iranian ambitions in a weakened Arab World. We need negotiation, not bombs, says Taoufik Bouachrine.
Huthi supporters on the march [Getty]
If truth is the first casualty of war, then it fell even before the Saudi planes starting dropping bombs in Yemen.

The truth of Yemen is that it is the result of an overlap between the counter-revolutions against Arab Spring and Iran's ambitions in a weakened Arab world. This is the real backdrop of the situation in Yemen. But you won't hear it for the bodyguard of lies surrounding it.

The disintegration of the state we see in Yemen today, the slide into civil war, the rise to power of the Houthis with support from Ali Abdullah Saleh, are all the natural outcome of the conspiracies hatched against the Yemeni revolution and the youth-led protest movement.

Today's war is the product of the Gulf's fear of democratic transformation in Yemen.

The Houthis could not have seized the levers of power if there had not been a huge political vacuum to fill. Saleh would not have dared undermine the political process had he not seen how the Saudis panicked at the rise of the Islah party, and how they would accept anything but a political process with a democratic prospect.

     If the Gulf countries had read the situation better, they would not have had to wage a costly and dangerous war in Yemen.

If the Gulf countries had stayed on the fence over Yemen, accepted that the post-Saleh political process was the only recipe to maintain what was left of the state there, if they had read the situation better, they would not have had to wage a costly and dangerous war in Yemen to overturn the Houthi takeover and reverse Iran's encroachment.

If war is the continuation of politics by other means, it should serve a political and strategic function, it should not just be fire, explosions, death and destruction.

War should be the last resort for politicians when they can no longer defend their interests any other way. Even then, they should have a destination, with defined boundaries and terms, in order to give their opponents the chance to backtrack, to negotiate and compromise, whether they prevail or whether they are defeated.

Yemen's pot is boiling over

Weeks have passed since the start of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Is its goal to force the Houthis to sit at the negotiating table with their opponents? If so, then how and when? And what will be on the table?

Or is the goal to crush the Houthis and the army forces on their side? Is that even possible in a country where there are more arms than people?

Is the goal to encourage the tribes to rebel against the Houthis with all the arms they possess? What if this deteriorates into a civil and sectarian war, the ingredients of which are all there, in the boiling Yemeni pot? Is fragmenting Yemen the solution?

No, the solution is to reconsider the Gulf position, specifically the Saudi position, on the Arab Spring. Decisions taken to finance counter-revolutions and wager on the return of the military to power out of fear of the Muslim Brotherhood and their ambitions must be reconsidered too.

Those decisions have had disastrous results.

Negotiations with Iran, not bombs, are the only solution in Yemen.