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Analysis: Bombs against the Rich Neighbor: What is Yemens Huthis doing?

2019-09-18T15:56:27.921Z

TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates


Jeddah / Sana'a (dpa) - Yemen was once a country where foreign powers could make a fiasco. In the 1960s, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sent troops to the south of the Arabian Peninsula to support putschists. The operation ended in defeat known as Egypt's "Vietnam."

About half a century later, Saudi Jets regularly fly air raids against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But even for the royal family, the mission is not at all in his favor. On the contrary, the bombing of the Saudi oil facilities over the weekend has suddenly made the Saudis aware of the evil consequences of the intervention for the country. Finally, the Houthis took responsibility for the bombing - which was also on Wednesday on the agenda of a meeting of the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have been.

With the military operation in Yemen, the rich Saudi Arabia wants to fight the Houthi rebels, who in 2014 overran large parts of the poor neighbor and also brought the capital Sanaa under her control. The Houthis are from the north of the Yemen. For a long time they saw themselves marginalized. The former long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh fought them by force.

When, after its overthrow in the wake of the Arab uprising in 2011, a national dialogue conference wanted to turn Yemen into a federation of six regions, the Houthis coveted, not least because they were dissatisfied with their assigned territory without access to the sea.

In league with other opponents of the new state model - including the overthrown Saleh - they pushed forward to Sanaa. Internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

For the Saudi leadership at that time one of their worst threat scenarios seemed to come true. The Sunni kingdom sees the rebels as close allies of its Shiite archenemy Iran. The Houthis belong to the religious community of the Zaidites, a branch of Shiite Islam.

Suddenly, the worst rival, according to Saudi interpretation, was standing right on the border. In response, in March 2015, Saudi jets at the head of a coalition first launched attacks against the Houthis, officially on Hadi's request. The Saudi propaganda reported around the clock "the production of legitimate rule," as Riads official slogan is called.

However, according to observers, the rebels only expanded their wires to Tehran in response to Riad bombings. The Houthis would not have turned against Saudi Arabia before the intervention, says author Said AlDailami, whose book "Yemen - The Forgotten War" comes out in October. "The Saudis have created their enemy with the intervention."

The Saudis have hardly been able to push back the Houthis so far. Rather, the rebels have consolidated their rule in Sana'a, while the internationally recognized president has little support in Yemen and is mocked there as the ruler of a five-star hotel in Riyadh, financed by Saudi Arabia.

With Iranian help, the Huthis also expanded their arsenal. A few months ago, in a video, they presented their latest military products, which they solemnly unveiled. For example, a drone named "Samad-3" was built to cover distances of up to 1,500 kilometers - allowing it to penetrate far into Saudi territory. UN experts have come to the conclusion that the Huthi drones are virtually identical to Iranian models. The rebels regularly attack Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis see the attacks as retaliation for the Saudi "aggression" in Yemen. They want to continue to send drones and missiles to Saudi Arabia until the kingdom ends its use in the civil war country. "We assure the Saudi regime that our long arm can reach any location we want, at the time we choose," a Houthi spokesman threatened.

However, Yemen expert AlDailami does not expect a quick end to the conflict. "The war will take a long time, because all conflict parties can live well with it," he says. All efforts by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to initiate a political process have so far yielded little tangible results.

Victims of the conflict are the Yemenis who suffer from violence. In the Saudi air raids many civilians die again and again. After five years of civil war, hundreds of thousands of people are starving. The UN accused the Houthis of blocking relief supplies for those in need. According to the United Nations, around 24 million people depend on humanitarian aid - around 80 percent of the population.

Yemen experiences, according to the UN, the biggest humanitarian crisis of modern times. Aid organizations complain that donor countries like Saudi Arabia have not yet fulfilled their financial commitments this year, so important aid programs have had to be stopped.

UN report on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

UN Emergency Relief Agency Ocha to Yemen

Video of the Houthis to new weapons

Book by Said AlDailami

Analysis SWP to the advance of the Huthis

European Council on Foreign Relations on the Yemen conflict

Source: zeit

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