What’s Happening in Yemen?
Shia rebels known as Houthis, took the capital city of Sanaa and ran president Hadi out of the capital and into exile in the southern port of Aden. The conflict between the Houthis and the government of Yemen is “seen as part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia” wrote BBC when reporting the news. In reaction, Saudi Arabia mobilized 150,000 troops and 100 US supplied fighter jets and began bombing the country and the Houthis. According to reports, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Pakistan have joined the Saudis in the war and the US is aiding them by providing intelligence on the rebel locations to maximize the effects of the bombings.
Houthis also known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), practice a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism and constitute about a third of the population of Yemen, living mostly in the North. They take their name from Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi who led an uprising of the Zaidis in 2004, in which he was killed. Since then, they have had a few more revolts against the central government.
The political conflict unfolding in Yemen, which is the poorest nation in Middle East, is nothing new. The country has seen decades of civil strife and unrest due to poverty, uneven access to resources by different sectors of the society, corruption and political instability. According to the same BBC report, “unemployment, high food prices and limited social services mean more than 10 million Yemenis are believed to be food insecure”.
One of the byproducts of such inequality, poverty and political instability has been the active presence of an Al Qaeda associate group known as Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is opposed to both the toppled president and the Houthis. Bring in imperialism headed by the U.S. to this mix, which as usual, sees the solution to just about every situation in bombing attacks against those it sees as its enemies, and we get the chaos we see in Yemen, today. The Obama Administration has for years conducted bombings by unmanned drones in Yemen, supposedly against AQAP forces in the country, which they determine who is and isn’t an Al Qaeda supporter in this nation of constant civil war, unrest and imperialist intervention.
As the US continued its drone attacks, supposedly against AQAP, however, it has remained mum about its close allies, the Saudis, as they continued to finance and promote Sunni jihadis, including what gave rise to Al Qaeda and its latest variant, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to promote the extremist and fundamentalist version of their Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam.
As the Houthis advanced and took the capital, the U.S. pulled its special operations forces out of the country, but it didn’t quit its intervention; it just left the job of pushing back and defeating the Houthis to the Saudis, who in recent years have taken a much more aggressive posture in the region. The purported reason for the Sauidis’ involvement is to counter the supposedly growing influence of Shia Iran in the region. However, the situation and alliances being formed isn’t entirely along religious lines. The Saudi ruling dynasty has long aligned itself with imperialism in order to maintain its grip on power and the wealth it enjoys by selling its vast oil reserves. More and more, this alliance has meant intervention in the political strifes in the region on behalf of imperialism, a role Israel has played even more prominently. When a pro-democracy uprising broke out in 2011 against the US backed kingdom in Bahrain where the US has a large naval base, right at the doorsteps of Iran, the Saudi Kingdom sent troops to crush it. They have also been one of the main supporters and financiers of the terrorist groups, including the ISIS that are fighting the Syrian government, which the U.S. and its allies want to see overthrown. They have also gone against the demands of other member nations of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to dramatically increase their oil supply in order to lower its price and hurt Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan economies. Saudi Arabia has also taken a position in support of the military dictatorship of General Al Sissi in Egypt, the kingdom in Jordan and the despotic sheikdoms in the Gulf, all US puppets and allies, all complicit about Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians. Saudis themselves have been a silent partner of Israel, as they both try to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. Against this pro-imperialist alliance which besides Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and Egypt, also includes Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Turkey, stand the governments of Iran and Syria and the Hezbollah of Lebanon. Although Iran herself has a medieval and autocratic government and Syria is by no means a model of democracy, they’re not politically and militarily allied with imperialism. They do not allow military bases and advisors of the US to decide for them their politics and policies, from how they vote in the UN to which nations they form and maintain relations with to who they sign their oil contracts with to what trade agreements they get into and who they buy their weapons from to how they relate with and treat multinational corporations. It matters not to imperialism who their allies are and what they do to their people. They can be the most brutal and misogynist dictators who cut the arms and legs of people for petty crime and jail, torture and execute journalists who criticize the corrupt leadership and who deny women even the right to drive. They can even help and support terrorists. None of that matters, as long as they cooperate with imperialist plans for world domination and crush their own pro democracy and anti imperialist uprisings and revolutions, which would be a barrier to imperialist exploitation and plunder. Just look to see which countries are on the US list of states sponsoring terrorism. You will not see Saudi Arabia, which is a big sponsor of Sunni terrorists or Israel which routinely assassinates Palestinian leaders, but Cuba, which has not committed a single act of terrorism, unless one considers helping repel the occupation forces of apartheid South Africa from then newly independent nation of Angola in early 1960’s, an act of terror, for which Nelson Mandela couldn’t thank Cubans enough. Really, he couldn’t have thanked them enough.
The reason the US sells the Saudis some of its most advanced weaponry, which they have been buying in the billions, funneling some of their oil money into the coffers of US weapons manufacturers, isn’t just economic, but also strategic. Same is true about their so-called “economic aid” to Egypt, which is mostly to the Egyptian military to the tune of $2 billion a year to buy US weapons from US weapons makers – money that goes from US taxpayers and makes a trip back to weapons makers. Again, that’s just a side benefit; the real purpose is strategic: to expand the reach and hegemony of the collective of the corporate empire.
if you read or watch the news in empire’s media, what you learn is that Iran is causing the unrest in Yemen by supporting a rebellious Shia group and that Saudis who are Sunni and want to limit Iran’s influence decided on their own to bomb the rebels and reinstate the “elected president”. In other words it’s all about religion, Iran’s interference and Saudis “reasonable” bombing reaction. Nothing about poverty, unemployment, corrupt leaders tapped and kept in power by empire’s military support and empire’s pact with the most depraved, corrupt and brutal despots found on Earth for the long term interests of multinational corporations and their empire.