Yemen After a Year- Victory or Defeat?
10 April 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
A year has passed since the Saudi-led Arab coalition launched a war in Yemen
after the legitimate government was overthrown!
The question ''What is the result?'' arises. Do we say that Sana'a was not
liberated and that the coalition did not eradicate enemy forces? Or do we say
that the coup and Iran's project to create a state south of Saudi Arabia which
would threaten the entire Gulf and change the regional balance equation were
Let us compare the war in Yemen to the war in Afghanistan. The United States
declares war there after the September 11 attacks that took place in 2001,
i.e. more than fourteen years ago. One can say it destroyed Al-Qaeda and
removed the Taliban government during this period. By the standards of the war
in Afghanistan, Arab coalition forces have achieved more in one year than the
Americans did in a decade and a half. The forces have accomplished similar
results and in addition to this they actually seized more Yemeni areas and
provinces than their opponents.
This does not mean that the forces annihilated the former President Ali
Saleh's forces or Houthi militias. In addition to this, Al-Qaeda who has been
established there since before the war, is still alive and is attacking
legitimate and coalition forces. A year later, there is no doubt that the
political and field gains reduced the number of dissenting and sceptical
voices as it is natural that people hate wars in our region that is afflicted
When the first air strikes took place this time last year, the Houthis and
Saleh's forces had captured all of Yemen. The rebels announced the formation
of their government and their rejection of Security Council resolutions. Their
existence had nearly become a reality for everyone to accept. The nightmare
became a reality and Yemen became part of Iran's orbit, besieging the Gulf
states from the south after they were besieged by Iraq and Syria from the
north. All arsenals seized from the Yemeni army including Scud missile systems
capable of threatening Saudi cities fell into the hands of the rebels.
However, the war immediately destroyed the political system established by the
Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh, and prevented Iran from creating a
situation similar to Iraq and Syria where it sent forces belonging to the
Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah militias and Iraqi rebels.
The coalition besieged Yemeni airspace and ports which have relied on
international inspection forces to be effective, and during the last year
American, French and Australian naval units turned away ships loaded with
weapons from Iran to its allies but did not prevent ships carrying
humanitarian aid from reaching Yemeni land.
Those who monitor the regional situation believed that war was the only option
to prevent the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah from occupying Yemen and
turning it into a large regional war front between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The reclamation of most Yemeni provinces during the war this year is a major
military achievement in a rugged country where tribal subdivisions exist and
the terrain is similar to that of Afghanistan. The war is not over and
continues at a slower pace as the legitimate government forces advance upon
the capital Sana'a. This is the final battle and it is for this reason that
Saleh and the Houthis have agreed to negotiations in Kuwait and sent a
delegation representing them to the Saudi capital.
Everyone hopes that there will be signs of a political solution to end the
war, that everyone will work towards restoring legitimacy and implement
Security Council resolutions.
Before the coup, the Yemeni people had realised their political project under
the auspices of the UN. They had also approved the election of a transitional
government and had started to write the constitution. That was until the
ousted president and Houthi militias dared to occupy Sana'a and arrest members
of the elected government.
It is hoped that the negotiations will turn the clock back, adopt the
international solution and complete the political transition in order to set
up a parliamentary system that represents everyone and that will later elect
its leadership under the auspices of the United Nations once again. Then the
Yemeni crisis will come to an end.
The rebels thought that they could seize power in Yemen and believed that
Saudi Arabia and its allies would not dare to deter them by military force.
The fact of the matter is that the rebels were not only mistaken in their
calculations, but were the cause of alarm bells ringing in the Gulf region
where the governments of the Gulf met and agreed to confront Iran and its
allies in Yemen, and to send a clear message to the Iranian leadership and the
international community, that they will not accept the policy of thuggery
practiced by the Iranian government in the Middle East.
Many were surprised by the military capabilities of Saudi Arabia and the UAE
that allowed them to fight a full-scale war whilst they worked on the ground
to rebuild and train Yemeni forces at the same time.
For this reason, the war in Yemen represents multiple confrontations with
different aims; the first is to prevent the establishment of a militia system
in Yemen that is similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The second is to protect
southern Saudi Arabia from a hostile front which would extend the duration of
the war to years or decades to come. The third is to send a message to large
countries to resist submitting to the Iranian expansion project in the region.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.