Achievements from the Sa’ada war [Archives:2008/1175/Opinion]

July 24 2008

By: Muneer Al-Mawri
This article is a modest attempt to touch upon achievements reached during the lengthy Sa'ada war in the strategic, political, human and financial spheres, plus the strategic risk of the war to stability and national unity. In the strategic sphere, the regime managed to mobilize away certain military units for a long time period and engage them in the Sa'ada fighting between the government and Houthis because these units may constitute a real threat to the plan of power bequeathal.

In the political sphere, the regime exploited the guise of fighting terrorism to dispatch more troops and artillery to Sa'ada and wage a war against Shia citizens chanting the slogan: “Death to America eath to Israel”. In the meantime, those, who raised or chanted such a slogan, have nothing to do with the American interests, nor they have a desire to attack Israel.

They simply wanted to exploit hostile feelings and sentiments against the U.S. following its war against Afghanistan and prior to its invasion of Iraq in order to create relation between Yemen's regime and the U.S. Administration. On its part, the regime used this slogan to allegedly show the international community that it defends Jews in Sa'ada and the U.S. interests in the region. This allegation, however, was not communicated to the new U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, who called for a peaceful dialogue between both conflicting sides.

The material sphere constituted one of the main reasons why the war still is going on. Like it attempts to gain money from donor countries under the guise of counterfeit democracy once and fighting terrorism at another time, Yemen's regime decided to benefit from the Sa'ada war in a similar manner.

This regime works on arousing fears among Saudi officials, and therefore insists on them to provide money to its empty treasury in exchange for serving and protecting their interests in Yemen. It began this shrewd tactic by exploiting the tense relation between Saudis and the Libyan leader Muamar Al-Qadhafi to extort the former.

Prior to Yemen's presidential and local council elections in September 2006, President Saleh gave the phone number of Parliament Member Yahya Al-Houthi to Al-Qadhafi, demanding the latter to communicate with the former, residing in Germany, or summon him to come to the Libyan capital Tripoli. While doing so, Saleh believed that communications with Al-Houthi and his movements were being recorded by the Saudi intelligence.

Saleh also believed that Al-Houthi's communication with the Libyan leader would help shift Saudi oil pipes toward Sana'a's regime in order to rescue Saudi Arabia from Libyan conspiracies. However, Al-Qadhafi revealed these details during a live-aired interview with Aljazeera Satellite Channel, adding that he only learned about Al-Houthi from President Saleh.

Afterward, the regime exploited the Qatari government's mediation to reconcile between both conflicting sides with the hope of getting money from the rich Gulf state under the guise of reconstructing war-affected areas. The Qatari officials have not understood the Yemeni regime's intentions, which is why the Doha-brokered peace deal failed to end the fighting.

Wait for money-generating opportunities:

As Yemen's regime is known for its tolerant wait for money-generating opportunities, it found a new opportunity following political developments in Lebanon last May. Therefore, it exerted great effort to raise concerns among Saudi government officials once again over the Iranian threat. It succeeded in doing so and received large financial support, the scores of which may not be less than those of the financial pledges made by Saudi Arabia at the Donors Conference, held in London two years ago.

The financial aids have not changed, but were transferred from the item of reconstruction to the item of destruction. Under all circumstances, these aids fit the high level of military action for the sake of alleged settlement of the conflict. They also fit the fifth Sa'ada war that has expanded to other areas outside the Sa'ada governorate.

What arouses curiosity is that the regime claims that Houthis attempted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen in the 1980s, however, Houthis had no organized presence during that time period. The 'Faithful Youth Organization' was founded after Yemen's National Unity in May 1990 through support from President Saleh depending on recommendations by the late Yahya Al-Mutawakil, former General People Congress (GPC) leader, Ahmad Al-Kuhlani, a current GPC leader, and Abdulkarim Al-Eryani, Political Advisor to Saleh.

In the 1980s, Sa'ada had been an emirate affiliated with late Muqbel Al-Wadie, who transferred from Zaidism to Salafism during his stay in Saudi Arabia. He was subsequently arrested by Saudi authorities on suspicion of having links with Jihaiman Al-Utaibi Organization in the kingdom before his return to Sa'ada to found Dammag Center.

Despite the fact that Saudis understand well intentions and objectives of the Yemeni regime, they have seemingly provided lavish support to this regime to wage the fifth Sa'ada war due to their own reasons, of which future consequences may evidently appear in South Yemen not in the North.

As Saudi huge returns from oil stunned senior Yemeni leaders and increased flow of their saliva, they mobilized their troops and artillery once again and returned to ancient records containing names of Islamic Front members, who were involved in central lands' fighting in the eighties of the last century. These leaders also summoned any Islamic Front remnants from Taiz, Ibb and Al-Beidha to come to Sa'ada in order to be added to those summoned from South Yemen as 'a source for fueling the war'.

Unaware policy meant to bring money

Such an unaware policy, based on doing what may brings foreign financial support, has been interpreted as an open call and good opportunity for the Iranians to intervene in Yemen's internal affairs. Until now, no one could have figured out the size of Iranian intervention, but in case large sums of money flowed into pockets of non-corrupt individuals, Houthis may utilize this money to transfer allegiance of tribal leaders and military units to their advantage.

As a result, we will face an ethnical-tribal civil war, of which breakout and aftermath are impossible to be predicted. Certainly, Houthis will not be able to rule Yemen, but their firm resistance to the government's repeated attacks will likely encourage other multiple forces to stand with them. Here the threat lies.