Arab Coalition’s efforts in Yemen are continuing at two parallel tracks: the military track in supporting the legitimate forces and the humanitarian relief track to meet the basic needs of the population, both in liberated areas and in areas under the control of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias.
In light of the gradual progress of the legitimate forces supported by the Arab Coalition, there were indications of an imminent return of negotiations between the Yemeni legitimate government and the Houthi putschists. This gives an important sign for the collapse of the Houthis’ morale in light of Iran’s busyness in the past days and weeks following the violent demonstrations that shook the pillars of the Tehran regime.
Reviving Yemeni negotiations also reflect the inevitability of the failure of the Houthi coup and its dead end, which has no future and never been recognized by any country. The confirmation of the imminent return of negotiations came by the UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who announced the acceptance of the Yemeni parties to enter in political negotiations after the failure of two previous rounds, one in Muscat and the other in Kuwait.
Relying on the forthcoming negotiations, whose date and place is yet to be determined, stems from the extent to which the putschists understand that there is no political future for them, no guarantees of their survival even in the narrow geographical area in which they are trapped, and that negotiations are the only way to ending the suffering of the Yemeni people. This does not mean easing military pressure on the Houthis on the hot fronts, especially in the western coastline of Yemen, which is witnessing successive collapses of Houthi forces and mass withdrawals from many areas.
It is noteworthy that the progress in the western coastline of Yemen would not be accomplished without a substantial and effective field military contribution from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has also provided massive relief to restore normalcy and to support populations in all areas cleared of insurgents.
At the beginning of their coup, the Houthis had been so arrogant, however, their morale had deteriorated considerably over time, with the decreased area they controlled. with their death toll increases as well as the difficulties they have faced in recruiting and attracting new elements.
The revival of the negotiation and the Houthis’ consent to join it can be seen as a lifeline for them to save themselves and ensure their political presence in the future. As for Iran, it has achieved its primary goal in using the Houthis and turning them into a tool to threaten the security of the region, undermining stability in Yemen and threatening the security of the Arabian Peninsula countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Along with another goal remained hidden until it was revealed recently after the end of the fragile alliance between the Houthis and loyal groups of the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by the Houthis under Iranian orders immediately after he revolted against them. This Iranian goal behind its intervention in Yemen, was leaked by close associates of the former allies (Houthi / Saleh), and that was in a voice tape of a lecture by the Houthi group’s founder, Hussein al-Houthi, in which he literally exposes the goal of the Iranian intervention and its role in using the Houthis to retaliate, saying: “The Yemeni army participated in large numbers in the fight against the Iranians and the Islamic revolution in Iran, and it is expected to receive the punishment of what it did.” The tape ends with the screams of those who were present during the lecture in support of what he said about the retaliation from the Yemeni army, which participated in the war with the Iraqi army against Iran.
Media sources said that immediately after the Houthis’ coup, they started to search in Sanaa, under Iranian directives, for Iraqi officers who fled and had been living in Yemen since the US occupation of Iraq. Some of these officers had been training the Yemeni armed forces. It is unknow yet what happened to these officers or if they have been found or they have fled Yemen to somewhere else.
But what is certain is that the Houthis have already destroyed, looted, and emptied large military units of the Yemeni army, in response to Iran’s desire of retaliation from the forces that participated with the Iraqi army in the war against it in the 1980s.
If Iran had been able to achieve its goal of destabilizing Yemen, sabotaging and dismantling some sectors of the Yemeni army, the Houthis have emerged from their coup and revolt empty handed, and their only gain was some looted funds and weapons as well as the hatred of the Yemeni people, who have suffered by the Iranian Houthi rebellion.
The Houthis jumped to power in Sanaa by invading the legitimate government, occupying the cities and controlling the Yemeni state headquarters in mid-2014. They had long history in building themselves militarily and engaging in battles with the regular army forces. However, when they felt that they have enough strength to raid the cities, through the betrayals of some and bribing others, and in light of the collapse of the Yemeni political authority and its long transition period following the fall of the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, and with a green light and support from Iran, they did not hesitate in implementing their Coup. And now, after accomplishing Iran’s goals, they want to engage in negotiations to ensure their political presence in the future!
Therefore, negotiations should not allow them to take what they failed to obtain by force. The only goal of this negotiation must be ending the coup and the return of the legitimate government to extend its influence on all the Yemeni areas, and, first of all, confiscating all weapons from the Houthis and not allowing them to form any military force that might challenge the legitimate state, as does Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, in Lebanon.
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre
23 January 2018