Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

It’s a war of a coalition made up from more than a dozen countries (plus mercenaries from South America and Blackwater that are recruited by Saudi Arabia, and there are Al-Qaida terrorists join the Saudi coalition) against this poorest Arabic country. Yemen resisted against the installation of a Saudi stooge.

The wealthy prince-playboys in Riyadh claim they only target the resistance group of Ansarullah and its positions while media reports suggest otherwise. The Saudi airstrikes, in alliance with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt, include civilian targets. So far, they have killed and injured thousands of civilians, mostly women and children.

Israel is allied with the Saudi bloc, which is supporting Al-Qaeda and ISIL. The new Israel-Saudi bloc sustains the terrorist groups and their crimes against humanity. Israel assists the Saudis in the illegal war on Yemen too. These strange bedfellows identify Iran as their chief regional adversary and support proxy wars against Iranian allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

While on the surface Saudi Arabia and its US-allied cohorts repudiate terrorism, they are the ones that are providing overt and covert support to Al-Qaeda and ISIL to advance the cause of breaking the so-called “Shia Crescent.” They have been joined by Israel, which has taken the position that Iran and its allies are more dangerous than the terrorist goons. This is while there has been no Iranian march of conquest into Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut or Sanaa.

Reflecting the interests of the Israeli-Saudi bloc, the United States provides direct support to the aerial campaign against Yemen. They openly help the Saudi bloc bomb the impoverished nation and commit atrocities with little care for international law. All this and many others suggest that the ICJ probe should also include the top leaders of the Saudi bloc, the US administration and Israel.

At a general level, the Saudi bloc has linked their futures fatally to ISIL, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They claim they are bypassing Yemen’s sovereignty to protect its people but prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country – while Red Cross officials express growing alarm at the number of civilians being killed and wounded in the attacks. Worse yet, these war criminals appear ambivalent about the civilian death toll.

The case is indeed noteworthy, as in many respects it represents the closest the International Court of Justice has come to actually basing its judgment on the enforcement of a nation’s interest. That’s the only way to generate far-reaching legal effects and be true to its own traditions.This is as it should be. The greatest tragedy is to be a reluctant guardian and delay justice for the victims of this condemnable criminality, which is not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council.

Yemen’s Houthis and the ‘Iran versus Saudi Arabia’ false binary

By : Agha Hussain

Notably in Pakistan, the notion of a regional ‘Iran versus Saudi Arabia’ struggle for influence is a popular framework adhered to by global affairs analysts. It holds that Iran and the Saudis involve themselves very proactively in the affairs of Middle East states with the goal of thwarting the other’s objectives, causing proxy wars and military conflicts.

However, the approach falls short in numerous ways of explaining contemporary turmoil in the troubled Middle East region. The Yemen War, ongoing since March 2015, is the most recent and striking example of the ‘Iran versus Saudi Arabia’ framework applied onto a major conflict in contradiction of both its basic facts and broader regional and global relevance.

With special regard to the origins and motives of Yemen’s Houthis, the ‘Iran versus Saudi Arabia’ label when applied to the Yemen War produces factual errors and fallacies. Behind these errors and fallacies lie crucial facts about the armed group and political-religious organization without which its true contemporary geopolitical significance cannot begin to be understood.

The Houthi uprising: Iranian proxies or independent actors?

The idea that the Houthis’ September 2014 takeover of Sanaa from Saudi client President Aburrabuh Hadi was an Iranian move is fairly entrenched among analysts. The Houthis are portrayed as mere sock puppets in this regard, armed and directed by Tehran. However, this contradicts revelations made during the early days of the war regarding the Houthis.

US and European career intelligence officials and diplomats immediately voiced skepticism about Saudi claims that the Houthis acted on Iran’s behalf. Pointing out that the Houthis did not follow mainstream Twelver Shi’ism as did Iran and its allies, they also added that the Houthis were not reliant on Iranian weapons for their military campaign which given the large quantity of weapons already in Yemen was easily self-sustainable.

Additionally, Huffington Post reported in April 2015 citing US officials familiar with the Houthi movement that Iran had even warned the Houthis against taking over Sanaa. Despite the US condemning the Houthis and military assisting the Saudis, there was not acknowledgement by countries aside from the Saudis and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that the Houthis were Iranian proxies.

In fact, as far back as 2009, Wikileaks-obtained cables from the US State Department described the Houthis’ weapons source as the Yemeni black market – and not Iran.

If not Iran, then who caused the Houthi uprising?

After the Yemen War began, the Houthis established ties with Iran and began receiving weapons from it. However, given the lack of serious ties with Iran prior to the war beginning, the question arises as to what motives drove the Houthis to seize Sanaa.

The answer lies in the mass discontent against leaders propped up by the GCC despite repeatedly making a mockery of the Yemeni reforms process.

As a major Zaydi politico-religious entity in Yemen founded in the 1990s, the Houthis were a significant part of the overall Yemeni mass-protests of 2011. Directed at then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled for over two decades, the protests induced a GCC reaction who then introduced the November 2011 GCC Initiative for power transition in Yemen. Both government and opposition approved of it.

The UNSC-backed Initiative mandated Saleh step down and handed Hadi, his vice president since 18 years, presidential duty. Hadi was tasked with holding presidential elections within 60 days, setting up a committee to draw a new referendum-approved constitution with parliamentary elections then following for a new Yemeni government.

However, Hadi held a rigged, one-man ‘election’ with himself as the only candidate and became the new president in February 2012. This caused opposition resentment to fester further, with intra-factional and government-protestor violence erupting frequently as Hadi secured two-year term. The Houthis and protestors affiliated with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who opportunistically decided to join the opposition, had called for a boycott of the election.

Even at the end of his term, Hadi who enjoyed GCC backing refused to relinquish his post and the GCC Initiative-mandated elections for a new parliament never took place. The Houthis together with Saleh loyalists – now dominating Hadi’s own ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC) – stormed Sanaa in September 2014 and established full control of the city by January 2015 with the seizure of the presidential palace.

Hadi resigned, but ‘retracted’ the resignation after managing to flee south to Aden city in February. Exemplifying his lack of domestic support and legitimacy, the GPC which possessed a majority in Yemen’s Parliament declared its refusal to accept him as president again.

Hadi then fled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the Saudis initiating an aerial bombing campaign against the Houthis on 25 March 2015.

The Houthis as an Iran-aligned but functionally independent new regional player

As the Yemen War finally shows signs of winding down, the Houthis can lay claim to a victory of sorts while the ‘coalition’ which sought to crush them has failed. Through years of massive aerial bombardment and ground assaults led by GCC-hired foreign and local tribal mercenaries, they impressively sustained control of Yemen’s major population centers and strategic assets such as its Red Sea ports.

To go with this, the Houthis have made unmistakable steps toward assuming a broader regional profile. Their offer to release captured Saudi airforce personnel in exchange for Saudi Arabia releasing imprisoned members of the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas resident in the kingdom is a prime example of this and was received positively by the Palestinians.

The Houthis’ rhetoric regarding Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians along with a general emphasis on the issue of al Quds (Jerusalem) is also poised with major momentum given the ongoing alliance of Israel with their GCC adversaries.

All in all, the Houthis are a reality in Yemeni politics not reliant on Iran for their objectives, but aligned with it now more so than ever – and thanks largely to Iran’s rivals.

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