The day I learned that Saudi Arabia took the initiative to rescue the people of Yemen from a belligerent pro-Iranian minority in partnership with GCC countries, I experienced a great sense of relief. At last, Gulf States and their allies proved they were capable of solidarity, independence and commitment to rid Yemen of this malevolent Iranian proxy threatening not only Yemen but also the Kingdom and beyond.
‘Decisive Storm’ was a source of pride for all nationals of GCC countries and their friends in the Arab World, considered as a first step in ridding our Arab lands of Iranian influence.
Sadly, however, the operation was not as decisive as its title promised. Rather than a short, sharp campaign, using our combined air and naval power to back up ground forces, it has mirrored the half-measures that have marked the ineffective efforts of the US-led coalition in Iraq. Airstrikes are just one tool in our extensive armoury, yet for some reason – probably due to unrelenting international pressure – it is the only one that been utilised.
But my disappointment with the campaign has been greatly compounded by the news that the United Nations has launched an initiative “to restore momentum towards a Yemeni-led political transition process” to bring together the legitimate government and all other parties, including the Houthi devils responsible for igniting the bloodshed.
When the Houthis have broken all previous agreements made with the government and rejected the terms of a UN resolution adopted last month as unjustly supporting “murderers and vampires”, they cannot be trusted to keep their word and moreover they deserve punishment not appeasement.
This wrong-footed peace initiative is scheduled to be discussed at a conference later this month, due to be attended by government officials, rival Yemeni parties as well as representatives of the Houthis and that traitor former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
At the time of writing, the legitimate president in exile, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, insists he has no intention of negotiating with Iranian backed rebels “more dangerous than Al Qaeda”. He maintains that the only reason for government participation is to discuss the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which demands that the Houthis withdraw from seized territory. Frankly I will believe it when I see it.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon has made it clear that talks must be held without preconditions, a stipulation the Houthis have agreed to abide with. Why wouldn’t they, when they have never stuck to any of their pledges! Does anyone seriously imagine that they will merely shrug their shoulders and bury their ambitions to rule the country on Tehran’s behalf? Is it even within the realm of possibility, let alone probability, that they will simply throw their weapons into the sea and become models of respectability?
No, of course not! They are cleverly playing along with the UN game and the international community’s unrealistic peacemaking goals. They will say anything expected of them to get the bombing to stop; then they will bide their time for a while before repeating their land-grab when I fear that Saudi will hesitate to get involved on the grounds ‘once bitten, twice shy’. Ban Ki-Moon must be terminally naive if he seriously thinks otherwise; he is not a politician, he is not a political strategist and he does not represent the interests of leaderships within our region; rather one could be forgiven for believing that he is more interested in representing Iran’s bands of terrorists.
President Hadi is being ambushed; he will find himself in a very lonely corner and may be pressurised to go with the flow aimed at resurrecting the Houthis as a respectable partner in the political arena. That would be a grave mistake on his part and to keep him resolutely fixed on his position of no compromise, Saudi Arabia and Gulf States must strongly reinforce his stance.
Firstly, GCC leaders should reject outright any participation in the Geneva talks or acceptance of any outcome that leaves both Yemen and surrounding Gulf Countries vulnerable to Houthi aggression.
Secondly, they must not agree to any communiqué that empowers or legitimises Houthis or allows them any participation in the political process going forward.
Thirdly, they must state in advance that they will not consider any agreement signed in Geneva as binding and they will continue with ‘Decisive Storm’ as long as it takes to ensure the safety of the Yemeni people and the security of our own borders.
If GCC States cave in, they will be perceived as weak and their military intervention will be seen as a failure. The whole world will note that we threw our hands up waving a white flag handing victory over to our enemies – and, more crucially, to Iran. We will look like weaklings and losers still taking orders from western powers, which have kept us under their thumb for as long as I can remember.
The US and its European allies want to keep us controlled and feeble, our sophisticated airplanes and missiles just for show to be paraded during national holidays. They have long had a plan to carve up the Middle East into easily manageable slices and given the Obama administration’s rapprochement with America’s sworn enemy, Iran, we must be alert for any whiff of bargains or plots.
Our leaders or their representatives attended Barack Obama’s calculated charm offensive in Camp David orchestrated to woo them into accepting the Iran nuclear deal, which I believe was a mistake. And I can only urge them not to be conned into giving up their right to self-defense again.
If they go along with this UN attempt to appease Iran and its band of Houthis, they might as well invite ‘Caliph Baghdadi’, Hassan Nasrallah, Naim Qassem and the head of the Badr Brigades along for the ride. Let us all have a jolly party with those people who all share the same aim – to weaken the Arab nation so as to empower Iran and its Persian agenda! Giving up the fight; giving in to groups whose mission in life is to harm us would result in disaster and if that is the road we are going to take, we will find a dead end – in more ways than one – without any return.
I can only urge GCC leaders to reconsider and take note of the messages underlying many of my columns warning of the dangers of leaving the Houthis unpunished and unrestrained in Yemen as a stepping stone to Iranian regional domination.
We must say a loud ‘No’ to the Geneva talks and give President Hadi every support, whether morally, militarily or financially. And finally, we must send the message to Mr Ban and the White House that going behind our backs to cook up schemes running contrary to our interests, is not only grossly insulting but dangerous.