The Intervened Land of Yemen

What makes Yemen somewhat different from other regional conflicts is some direct interventions by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran. What is needed is an international forum that can bring together the parties of the conflict, so here is perhaps a potential role for Russia, said Karim Haggag, professor of the American University in Cairo in the interview to on the eve of the Valdai Club Middle East Conference, which takes place in Moscow on February 19-20.

The dissolution of the alliance between former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi militias did not have any significant impact on the course of conflict. The Houthi retained much of their military strength and therefore there has been no shift in terms of military balance of power. On the contrary, we also see a strain towards escalation: we have seen that with the recent missile attacks perpetrated by Houthi with Iranian weaponry against Saudi Arabia. The other repercussion of the dissolution of the alliance that led to the killing of the former president Saleh – it makes a prospect for compromise much harder. Because now with the dissolution of the alliance we are enforcing a zero some perception in terms of the Houthi alliance, they are now painted as agent of Iran as an extension of its influence in the region, and that makes things much harder.

The present conflict became regional very quickly, and now we have the direct intervention on the part of Saudi Arabia attempting to restore the government against the Houthi alliance, we have an intervention of United Arab Emirates, primarily in the South, and you have clear indications of Iranian intervention, reflected in the recent missile attacks against Saudi Arabia I already mentioned. This clearly leads to greater instability and complicates the prospects for a negotiated solution or for a minimum level of conflict management.

Yemeni Ex-President Killed: Who Will Reap the Political Dividends? Sergey Serebrov
Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in the nation’s capital Sana’a on December 4 following clashes between his supporters and Houthi rebels, former allies in the fight against the Saudi-led coalition. Sergey Serebrov, senior researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, told about the possible consequences of Saleh’s killing. 

We also have an issue of terrorism. Although the Islamic State* has not been able to make inroads in Yemen, as it was in Syria, Libya and other regional conflicts, but we do have serious and growing presence of “Al-Qaeda”*. Therefore, you have a potential for further radicalization and increase of terrorist activity emanating from Yemen, which is a very destabilizing regional effect.

What we see in Yemen now is clearly a mediation effort by the United Nations that has been very problematic, it has not been able to make progress towards a negotiated solution. So we have a vacuum in terms of diplomatic efforts, when it comes to Yemen. What is needed is an international forum that can bring together the parties of the conflict, as in case of Syria and Libya, for example.

That at very least can hold a trend towards instability, and, as I hope, could lead to negotiated solution. Any prospect for negotiated solution have to involve not only the parties of the conflict itself, but also the regional actors who are now intervening directly. So here is perhaps a potential role for Russia, which seems to be a disinterested in the conflict, and perhaps I can constitute a positive Russian role in the Yemeni civil war.

*ISIS and Al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia by court order.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.