Al-Sharq – June 17, 2018, issue 10958
After a relative lull in the war in Yemen, the sounds of the weapons returned again. The goal this time was Al-Hudaydah and specifically its harbor. Some may see it as a reasonable and anticipated move, but looking at the details of the conflict in Yemen with its international and regional complexity, it knows that this movement has causes, motives and agreements the details of which I will explain.
It is important for us as political researchers to follow closely the causes of international crises and wars. Oil and gas are always the focus of international forces. Maritime corridors have been and remain of great importance for trade and the economy, and therefore have political importance. Due to the strategic geographic location of the Arabian peninsula and Yemen in particular, the waterways surrounding it are more or less the focus of an undeclared conflict.
Regional economic conflict in Yemen
Yes, it is a regional conflict on the territory of Yemen whose victims are the oppressed and suffering people of the country. Iran supports a militia that is not accepted by the people and organized a coup against the legitimate government, trying to impose its control on a poor agricultural country, albeit rich in geography. Bab-el-Mandeb is a commercial gem. The other side was divided into three sections according to their interests in this war:
The first is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which sees Tehran’s the expansion of the influence at its southern border a direct threat to its national security. Therefore, its role in this conflict is limited to the removal of Iran’s allies, Houthis, from its southern borders.
Secondly, the United Arab Emirates, which view Yemen as an important strategic financial pie. All exports and imports from the UAE to and from the European Union and America go through Bab-el-Mandeb. Therefore, its control by Abu Dhabi will reduce the cost of its transactions and passing ships will bring to ti enormous benefits. Abu Dhabi does not see Houthis’ survival in northern Yemen as a threat and does not see the end of the crisis as necessary. This is evident by monitoring the movements on the ground. The forces of the UAE fully moved into the battles of the Yemeni ports while they were completely absent from the internal ground battles.
The third is the rest of the participating countries in the Arab Coalition whose role is limited to fighting alongside Saudi Arabia by creating ex ante obligations in Riyadh to be paid in the future through financial contracts or financial assistance and in fact they do not affect the line of the conflicts there.
With the political horizon in Yemen being hindered for various reasons, with the most important being the serious problems within the Arab Coalition on the one hand and on the other hand that Tehran is working through Houthis to keep the fire in Yemen lit as pressure card on regional and international negotiations, and for many other reasons, military option remains the only one on the table.
Since the beginning of this year, changes have taken place in the region that prompted one of the major Arab Coalition leaders to withdraw from the support line and continue the conflict in another direction. Abu Dhabi, which sees sea routes as the only target in the Yemeni conflict, has faced successive failures in this area. It was dealt a painful blow for its plans because of Qatar’s and Turkey’s increasing influence in Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia. These losses prompted Abu Dhabi to revise its plans in Yemen.
The port of Al-Hudaydah port is of great commercial and human importance rather than military. The sea lanes that pass through it make it one of the most important ports in the world. Also, the humanitarian situation of the Yemeni people and the ban on flights in the region have made this port the only gateway to the United Nations humanitarian aid. For these reasons, a military action will complicate things, something that the West has categorically rejected in the past. However, a Western diplomatic source confirmed to me that during the previous month, unprecedented talks took place between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia with US officials focused on the port of Hudaydah. The US side gave the green light to this oepration and promised Washington’s support through intelligence exchange and unmanned aircrafts.
Militarily the battle is almost conclusive. The balance of power confirms the superiority of the Arab Coalition. The British-led European move through the United Nations to exert pressure to halt the operation is likely to not affect its course. Therefore, the battle of Hudaydah is pre-eminent. But the most pressing question is what will follow. What happened in Aden, where one side of the Arab coalition divided the city according to its commercial interests, and then avoided completing the action in the field, puts us in front of a big crime in the coming days that is the same party to end the battles because it will decide that its own battle is over, so millions of Yemeni citizens will face the danger of starvation and the closing of the last gateway of hope for them.