Russia has vetoed a western backed UN Security Resolution seeking to condemn Iran over downright bizarre allegations that it has supplied Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) Movement with modern missile systems. Forgetting the fact that no one has presented any meaningful evidence regarding the claims, as Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said at the UN, there is another fatal flaw to the claim.
Since the beginning of the present Yemen conflict in 2015, the Saudi navy has blockaded all sea access to the impoverished state, thus making international deliveries to Yemen near impossible. Even aid ships have at times had difficulty securing Saudi permission to deliver much needed medicine and foodstuffs to a country where a Saudi-made famine has resulted in a widespread cholera outbreak which even mainstream media had to acknowledge as the ‘worst in history’.
If food and medicine are frequently disallowed from travelling through the Saudi blockade, how could large Iranian weapons get through? The answer is that this is impossible to any logical mind, which helps explain why only Nikki Haley and her UNSC partners still couch their argument around this illogical premise. The only other equally bizarre theory that some Saudi pundits have asserted is that Iranian supplies are arriving in northern Yemen via Oman. Omani officials have rejected these claims outright and there is zero evidence pointing to the fact that a GCC ally of Saudi Arabia is doing any secret deals with Iran. If Muscat was doing such deals, one could be certain that Oman would be facing the same kind of pressure from Riyadh as Qatar has been since 2017.
For Saudi Arabia, it is clear why they too stick with the ‘Iran theory’. While the Saudi military is the most expensively armed in the Middle East, it has little to show for it. After three years of fighting a Houthi resistance whose most sophisticated arms are a combination of decades old North Korean missiles in addition to a few more outdated Iranian made missiles delivered in legitimate transactions to Sana’a long before the present conflict, the Saudis are still losing. In fact, they are losing so poorly that after an embarrassing friendly fire incident, Riyadh’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has fired the country’s main military leaders.
According to Sputnik,
“Fayyad al-Ruwaili will replace General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan as chief of staff, while the heads of the kingdom’s ground and air defense forces will be replaced as well”.
While Saudi is certainly losing the war by the standards it has set, no one is winning a conflict which is increasingly becoming one where the contact lines and political alignments remain frozen in spite of frequent skirmishes and even terrorist attacks.
At present the following factions are competing for influence in Yemen:
–Ansar Allah/The Houthis have stabilised their control over Sana’a and areas generally corresponding to the pre-1990 borders of North Yemen, in spite of continued Saudi airstrikes and other provocations.
–The General People’s Congress, the party of slain former President Saleh have mostly reconciled with the Houthis in the north, even though some GPC members have defected to the Aden government of President Hadi.
–The Hadi government continues to be formally recognised as the de-facto ruler of the former South Yemen, while claiming legitimacy over the entire country.
–The Southern Transitional Council, a group arguing for the re-independence of South Yemen has come to control many of the daily functions of a ‘South Yemen’ while aiming to become the recognised government in Aden.
–Saudi Arabia backs Hadi while its UAE ally backs the Southern Transitional Council, but nevertheless, this has not yet lead to any kind of dispute between the allies that many had thought it would have done. Both the Saudis and the UAE continue to oppose the Houthis in the north.
–Iran offers political support to the Houthi government in Sana’a but can offer little in terms of material support due to the blockade and international sanctions against the Houthis.
–In spite of a fake news barrage, Russia remains neutral, recognising Hadi as the official president, while calling for international peace processes to be put in place in order to end the conflict.
–The US and EU allies unilaterally support the Saudi agenda in Yemen.
This is where the conflict stands at present. As I wrote previously,
“In a pragmatic world, this [political juncture] could be an opportunity for the Resistance to extend a cautious olive branch to the Southern Transitional Movement and agree to either divide or federalise Yemen with the Houthis forming a government along with remnants of the slain President Saleh’s General People’s Congress in the North, while the Southern Transitional Council could form their own sovereign or federal government in yjr South.
Of course, this would face resistance from both Saudi Arabia and Iran who both want Yemen to remain a unitary state, with Iran recognising the factions in Sana’a as the soul legitimate political leaders of the entire country, while Saudi Arabia recognises Hadi and his dwindling number of loyalists as the legitimate political leaders of the entire country. Because of this, an ideal agreement to divide the country and drive Daesh out of each part (they are almost all in the south as it is), will likely not come to pass at this moment because both Saudi Arabia and Iran dream of a country remaining united, even though at present the only thing united about Yemen is that it is united against itself on multiple fronts”.
Thus, because of the inability of western powers to think pragmatically on Yemen, an opportunity to call for a genuine peace process aimed at federalisation, has amounted to yet another lost chance to help a fractious Yemen.