Iranian retreat in Yemen… and an American review

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In the past few days, very important developments have occurred on the Yemeni scene. It is not excluded that these developments have dimensions at the regional and international levels, as well as in the Yemeni interior itself. The city of Marib is no longer threatened with imminent fall, despite the siege of the Houthis (Ansar Allah group) from several sides. Iran is no longer in a position to go to negotiations regarding its nuclear file with the US administration in Vienna while holding the Marib city card. Such a paper could have allowed Iran to confirm that it had been able to establish a viable political entity in northern Yemen, with its capital in Sana’a.

This entity has, in theory, the ability to be an independent state with a presence on the Red Sea through the port of Hodeidah and great wealth in light of what Marib possesses. Most important of all is Iran’s endeavor, through the presence of a Houthi entity in northern Yemen, to prove that it has become an integral part of the Arabian Peninsula. Just as the happy-go-lucky Soviet Union had its foothold in the past. This was by laying hands on the regime in South Yemen and turning the “People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen” into a mere extension of the Soviet Union and its policies.

The Houthis, i.e. Iran, have been making huge efforts for several months to seize the city of Marib. Iran does not care about the number of Houthi deaths that fall in Ma’rib and other than Ma’rib, as long as an achievement is required in the interest of the “Islamic Republic”.

But the recent transformations in the course of the battles suggest major changes. The most prominent of these changes may be the beginning of the emergence of an American awareness of what is at stake in Yemen and the consequences of a trend that began to remove the Houthis from the US terrorism list. Shortly after the latter entered the White House, Joe Biden’s administration hastened to remove the Houthis from the US terrorism list. She thought that this would make it easier for “Ansar Allah” to sit at the negotiating table on the one hand, and participate in reaching a settlement that stopped the fighting in Yemen on the other.

The next few days will show the depth of the change in the American position and whether there is awareness of the danger of the Iranian expansionist project. More clearly, the next few days will show whether Washington has begun to realize that the problem with the “Islamic Republic” is not only its desire to obtain nuclear weapons, but that the real dimension of the problem also lies in its behavior outside its borders and in the ballistic missiles and drones that Iran deploys in Region. In Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen… and in Gaza as well. These drones were behind the British decision to declare Hamas a terrorist movement in light of its “clear terrorist capabilities.”

There is also another very important change at the Yemeni level. This change is represented in the transformation of the Marib war into a war of attrition between the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by the Yemeni Congregation for Reform Party, the main partner in “legitimacy.” Islah, which controls most of the forces affiliated with the “legitimacy”, has moved from a position that refuses to involve more forces in the battle of Ma’rib to a party that considers itself in a battle of a fateful nature. There are those who believe that the Arab coalition, which is making great efforts to prevent the fall of the city of Ma’rib, pushed in the direction. In any case, turning the battle of Marib into a long war of attrition between the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood seems beneficial. It is a war between two parties benefiting from the continuation of the Yemeni tragedy after they concluded agreements under the table between them.

It remains that among the other most prominent changes in Yemen, the entry of southern and northern forces led by Tariq Muhammad Abdullah Saleh on the line of defense of Marib. These forces moved from the vicinity of Hodeidah and from other locations in the south to the Marib fronts. This means that there is southern awareness of the danger of the fall of the city of Ma’rib. The fall of the city will open the doors to a Houthi incursion into the southern governorates through Shabwa governorate. Southerners do not want to return to unity at all. The Yemeni unity project has become a failed project since before the fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh, so what if the Houthis, who do not have any political, economic or civilizational project of any kind in Sanaa? The Houthis have nothing to offer but backwardness, ignorance and worn-out slogans such as their well-known cry “Death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory for Islam.” Does the “Scream” feed the Yemenis with bread, and does it bring them medicines that prevent the death of thousands of Yemeni children?

The Iranian expansionist project appears to have reached the stage of beginning to decline. We may be facing an Iranian retreat and a review of American policy. The big breakthrough for this Iranian project was from Iraq in 2003. It is clear, in light of the results of the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections, that the Iraqis are not eager to remain under Iranian tutelage, either directly or indirectly, under the sectarian militias sponsored by the Revolutionary Guards.

Much will depend on whether the Houthis will capture the city of Marib. It will become clear whether the US administration has begun to understand the meaning of what is going on in Yemen. What is happening in Marib will mean that “legitimacy” is beginning to discover that it really needs to be reformed and that it cannot be left to act without accountability or oversight. Everything that this “legitimacy” offers is pathetic, nothing more, at a time when Yemen seems to need a different approach. This approach is based on the fact that there is no point in any goodwill gesture to persuade “Ansar Allah” to negotiate, especially since they are linked to an Iranian agenda that has nothing to do with the interests of the Yemenis. This is evidenced no more than the storming of the US embassy in Sana’a and the detention of Yemeni local employees of the embassy. Does the Biden administration finally understand that this is the only response the Houthis have to removing them from the US terrorism list?

Quoted from “Al Arab Newspaper”

*This article expresses the opinion of the author



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