Iran Faces An Uphill Battle In Yemen: The Bisht Cannot Protect Iran From The Pricks Of The Yemeni Thorns
16 March 2015
By Tariq Alhomayed
The Yemeni crisis has reached a critical moment of truth. The Gulf and the
international community have both declared their opposition to the Houthi
coup, with these stances resulting in the subsequent closure of several
foreign embassies in Sana'a, leaving the Houthi coup without international
cover bar Iran's support. By ''critical'' above I mean that five regions in
Yemen oppose the Houthis coup, with the remaining one accepting it only
partially through coercion, oppression and violence.
Well, what is the mood in the Gulf right now, particularly since it is the
party that is now communicating with the international community and
explaining what should be done in Yemen?
According to reports I have personally heard from several well-informed Gulf
sources, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—which launched the main
initiative that led to Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure from power in 2012—has
resolved its position on the issue and will not tolerate any laxity here.
''Yemen has changed, and we have to think in a different way devoid of
emotions,'' one source said.
According to another source, what happened in Yemen was ''a full-fledged coup
and will not be accepted by the international community or neighboring
''No country keen about its security can accept the presence of a militia
armed with weapons coming from countries with whom it shares its borders,''
the source added.
''The Houthi coup and efforts to legitimize it provide a recipe for a
sectarian civil war. No peaceful solution can be reached without things
returning to normal, and weapons, particularly the medium and heavy ones,
being returned to the state, as well as dialogue being resumed,'' he said.
Of course, the Gulf's view of this dialogue has changed drastically. Gulf
states are seeking genuine dialogue with guarantees, particularly since the
Houthis, according to the source, previously signed ''more than 65 agreements
without complying with any of them, instead using these agreements as a way
to catch their breath before continuing their march towards the other
As such, GCC countries believe the next agreement, if it ever takes place,
will, naturally enough, differ from the previous ones. This is a natural
result, particularly after Iran's involvement in the Houthi coup became
apparent to everyone. It was therefore remarkable that this week's UN
resolution on Yemen, unanimously adopted by the Security Council, called for
an end to foreign intervention in the country—by Iran of course.
So, in case a future agreement on Yemen is reached, will the Gulf again fall
victim to Saleh and the Houthis' machinations? And how will Iran be dealt
with? What I heard was remarkable: reports suggest that Saleh and the Houthis
have sent several messages, all with the same content: ''Rest assured.''
Another Gulf source told me: ''We are confident and reassured as to our
ability to maintain our security and [protect] our borders, and the ones who
should be sent messages of assurance are the Yemeni people, from across the
spectrum. The Yemenis are fed up with Saleh's ploys and the Houthis'
But it was what one source said about Iran that particularly stood out:
''Those who think that the bisht of Qom can protect against the Yemeni thorns
should reassess their calculations quickly.''
The bisht, a cloak worn by clerics from the Iranian city of Qom, indeed
cannot protect Iran from the pricks of the Yemeni thorns. And we should not
forget either that Tehran is yet to get a taste of the Yemeni dagger.
Tariq Alhomayed is the
Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that
position. He holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz
University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards
a Master's degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is
based in London.