It really is not that difficult to solve the problem in Yemen. The operation led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been ongoing for six years. The reason this operation has become so prolonged and increasingly complicated is neither because the Houthis are very powerful, nor because the coalition is weak or incompetent, but solely because the coalition has substantially deviated from the objectives it declared when it first entered Yemen.
The specified goal was to prevent a Houthi coup in Yemen aimed at a fait accompli to establish sovereignty over all elements. Of course, the evaluation of Iran’s intervention had a role behind the Houthi coup and its expansion. Thus, in terms of Yemen’s population, Houthi expansion also signified an Iranian invasion. Yet, despite the small Houthi population, they were a part of the Yemeni public, and if they had not attempted such a coup, they comprise a significant element in the reconstruction of Yemen.
When the coalition decided to intervene six years ago, it declared that its objective was to empower the legitimate government in Yemen, and bring stability to the country. Yet, neither the legitimate government could be empowered, nor was the unjust sovereignty of the Houthis put to an end. Thus, Yemen remains unstable.
The reason is simple. The UAE, in particular, completely disregarded its aim to save the country from the clutches of the Houthis and strengthen the legitimate government as soon as it entered Yemen. Instead, it started to pursue its own interests by conducting its own coup and establishing sovereignty in areas not occupied by Houthis, by invading Yemen’s territories, ports, and airports. It destroyed Aden port to in a bid to suffocate the legitimate government by closing off its exits. It destroyed Aden Airport in such a way that international flights were rendered impossible. It spread chaos in Aden through its militia in efforts to pave the way for its own arbitrary interventions. Yet, Aden was already in the hands of the legitimate government. It established countless assassination teams here and had important opinion leaders and political figures killed. It banned Yemen Airlines aircraft from parking at Aden Airport overnight, destroyed Al Rayyan Airport in Mukalla, and converted it into its own military camp and prison. Mocha port is still under UAE invasion, and by preventing the export of Yemen gas and oil, it continued the real war against Yemen’s legitimate forces.
As if that did not suffice, it invaded Socotra Island and encouraged its armed militias to take over the local administration there, while deporting its official, legitimate governor. It has no way to justify this intervention in the name of fighting against any element causing instability there: the Houthis for example, because there was no element there apart from the Houthis and Socotra residents anyway. Hence, it is a complete occupation.
Meanwhile, its relations with the Houthis is in complete betrayal of its own coalition partners. Its provision of various weapons, including UAVs, and money to the Houthis has been proven; it supposedly accidentally attacked the Yemen army, which it is “officially” supporting, on several occasions, killing and wounding thousands. It is such a coincidence that every accidental bombing has prevented the Yemen army from making a crucial move against the Houthis.
The small partner of the coalition in Yemen is much more active than its bigger partner and is contributing to exacerbating the problem there. While doing this, it is also driving Saudi Arabia deeper into the quagmire in the long term, and betraying it in various fields. However, Saudi Arabia, the big partner, carries the moral and legal responsibility for all that is happening in Yemen. Whenever the legitimate government requests that the Security Council ousts the UAE from Yemen, Saudi Arabia always mediates to have that demand withdrawn. The UAE could not have occupied Socotra without Saudi Arabia’s permission, because, as per an agreement, it was under Riyadh’s control. Frankly, there are many developments that were guaranteed according to the latest Riyadh Deal, but since Saudi Arabia did not insist on the implementation of these articles, the current situation continues as is.
Yet the current situation constitutes increasing human rights violations daily on the account of the coalition. The UAE may be seriously benefiting from this situation in terms of its own policy, but Saudi Arabia is amassing grave problems, which it will encounter in the future.
If we were to refer back to our initial question, ending the problem in Yemen is really not that difficult. Especially now since all sides in Yemen are much more eager to build an integral, independent, stable and reconciled Yemen among themselves. The first condition to ensuring this stability now is nothing other than saviors rising from among them.
The pro-legitimacy groups in Yemen, the Houthis, Zaidis, Al-Islah, or Al-Mu’tamar, are all true elements of the country, and it is possible for all to gather under the umbrella of a national dialogue, recognizing the rights, laws and presence of each other.
It is not possible for one to destroy the other. Everybody is aware that one faction establishing forced dominance over another will lead to nothing but instability and autocracy. The solution is all parties recognizing one another and accepting the other’s laws and rights, laying the foundation of a national dialogue in Yemen within the frame of mutual respect.
As far as we can see, all sides in Yemen, including Houthis, are ready for this solution.
The first step is for the Saudi-led coalition, which entered Yemen to be its savior, to return to its initial pledge, and not stand between the parties of this dialogue.