The end of the Yemenis’ peaceful uprising and the beginning of the war was marked by the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s takeover of the Yemeni capital Sanaa through the power of arms.
So writes Abdulrahman al-Rashed, former General Manager of Al Arabiya News.
He writes, “I was certain that the war be will long and tough for several reasons. For instance, former president, Saleh, was still in control of the armed forces and the Houthi movement is a group that takes orders from Iran. This is in addition to the lack of a central authority in Yemen and the country’s rough terrains.”
Iran’s links to the war can be traced since Iran did not hide them. It viewed the war as regional. Opening a front against Saudi Arabia in Yemen is part of the geopolitical balance in Syria and Bahrain’s conflicts, according to Iran’s beliefs, although many observers deny this possibility. However, they later admitted Iran’s involvement.
He says, “What’s interesting is that Tehran had not even bothered to hide it.”
The only option for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ in Yemen was to confront the Iranians, who were using the Houthi and Saleh’s forces. Arrests of Iranian military men who were present in the war zones were reported and documented. The war seeks to defend Gulf countries against Iran.
Fear that Saleh and Houthis have a missile system that threatens Saudi Arabia’s security was confirmed by those Yemen fired deep into Saudi Arabia. International navy inspectors also found missiles in Iranian ships heading to Yemeni ports. Similar missiles were used by the rebels to shell southern Saudi areas.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed writes, “The war in Yemen, just like other wars in the region, is not a mere dispute among local groups. It is planned and funded by regional powers, mainly Iran, which appears determined to expand its influence and besiege it neighbors.”
It is important to remember the facts often forgotten amid the developments of war, two years after it began, according to al-Rashed. He writes, “First of all, it was the Yemeni people who ousted Saleh and established a new political situation. The people revolted against Saleh as a result of his failure in governance. Saleh was the longest-serving leader in the world and the most unsuccessful as well.”
He says that the desire of Gulf countries was not to alter the regime. “It was a result of the Arab Spring, which toppled several rulers – Moammar Qaddafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia.”
The UN sought to organize the situation by assigning an envoy whose task was to maintain civil peace and propose a political plan which the GCC, the US and Europe agreed to, after protests erupted in Sanaa. A democratic system was established, through which a president and a parliament could be elected. All of the Yemeni parties agreed, and a temporary transitional government was formed for 18 months. A constitution was supposed to be drafted, and preparation made for the elections.
“However, Saleh and the Houthis planned the coup, seized the whole of Yemen and arrested most ministers and political leaders,” writes al-Rashed.
The rebels rejected international efforts that endeavored to convince them to retreat, and after they rejected all other concessions, “military response was the only solution,” writes al-Rashed, and he adds, “The rebels had thus insisted to be in command and maintain their arms in what resembles Hezbollah’s situation in Lebanon.”
In this way, war was imposed on the Yemenis and the Saudis.
According to al-Rashed, “It is unacceptable to let the Iranian regime use Yemen as a base to attack the latter’s neighbor without militarily confronting it.”