We can only hope the parties meeting in Jeddah will seriously discuss the nature of their relations with the central Yemeni state.

August 21, 2019 17:55

A YEMENI soldier eyes a poster portraying Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Yemen’s President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi outside a hospital renovated by Saudi Arabia in Aden, Yemen, last December.. (photo credit: NAEL SHYOUKHI/REUTERS)

Asharq al-Awsat, London, August 19
Last week, we found ourselves facing another serious crisis in the region – perhaps one that could ignite fighting in Yemen for at least 10 more years. Thankfully, at this wonderful moment we see that this was avoided by prudence on all sides. Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) announced its willingness to join a conference in Saudi Arabia to discuss the future of Yemen.
Everyone is going to Jeddah to seek durable solutions. The STC has retreated from its takeover of Yemeni government institutions and issued statements confirming its acceptance of Yemen’s legitimacy as enshrined by the United Nations. Indeed, the STC reassured the Saudis, relieved the UAE of great embarrassment and, more importantly, saved itself and its people, the citizens of the South, and the entire region from more bloodshed.
But the debate, of course, will not stop. I have read articles by Dr. Mohammed al-Rumaihi and Dr. Saad al-Ajmi on the dispute. In short, they believe that the independence of southern Yemen is the best solution. Even educated Saudis believe that the Saudi interest is to carve out two or three Yemeni states, and not one united Yemen.
This is especially true since the experience of dealing with a unified Yemen ruled by the regime of the late president Ali Abdullah Saleh was difficult and harmful for Saudi Arabia. But it is dangerous to tamper with the political entities of states. I tell Dr. al-Rumaihi and Dr. al-Ajmi, these two esteemed Kuwaiti intellectuals, that delegitimizing and dismantling a state recognized by the UN threatens all countries in the region, including Kuwait itself. Accepting illegal separation is exactly the same as illegal annexation!
I am never against the right of southerners who want a separate state or the establishment of a southern republic, but they must achieve it by legitimate means, either by reaching understandings with the Yemeni state when its institutions return to functioning, or through the UN. We can spend the coming days talking about past mistakes, but this would be futile.
None of us truly believe that the southerners can reach a consensus on who should be their leader, let alone on the name of their hypothetical state, its government structure, and its laws. Instead, there are political strongmen with various allegiances fighting over the ability to lead the southerners in their quest for sovereignty. We can only hope that the parties meeting in Jeddah will engage in serious conversation about the nature of their relations with the central Yemeni state, leaving the talk of separation for the future, or assuming control of the narrative through the appropriate international legal channels. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed


Al-Etihad, UAE, August 17
In Idlib, the last rebel-held Syrian province, nearly four million citizens are trapped, with many fleeing the shelling and destruction that previously forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes throughout the country. Some residents of Idlib might have preferred to avoid the destruction that surrounds them, but the Russians did not keep their promises and turned their backs against the Syrian people.
Had the Syrian regime presented a clear vision for the future of Syria and engaged the people in direct, genuine dialogue aimed at stopping the fighting, then maybe the bloodshed could have been prevented. But the regime’s insistence on crushing the opposition using military force has only exacerbated the war, threatening to make it last for a few more decades.
A senior Syrian official once asked me, “Why do the people of Idlib hate us?” I said, “Maybe because you never gave them any opportunity for a better future.” Idlib has been deprived of any economic opportunities for several decades, even though more than 93% of its youth hold university degrees. Had it not been for the labor migration to Greece and Cyprus, as well as to some Gulf countries, the people of Idlib would not have been able to find sources of livelihood. What is important is that I do not know what is the plan of Al-Nusra Front, and whether it will succeed in defeating Russia, Iran, and Damascus.
I regret the suffering of the inhabitants of villages and small towns destroyed by hundreds of thousands of raids and bombs. While they are recovering from one massacre after another, the whole world stands idly by, watching. Meanwhile, the Astana peace process is clearly aimed at enabling the Syrian regime to retake Idlib by military force. But the truth is that people prefer to die than to surrender.
The real question, therefore, is whether there is a sincere international initiative that brings life to the Geneva negotiations, opens a new page for the Syrian people, and shelters millions of Syrians from a major humanitarian disaster that is about to happen. –Riad Naasan Agha


Al-Ayaam, Ramallah, August 15
Russia had a presence in a number of Asian countries before the fall of the Soviet Union, whether through invasion – as was the case in Afghanistan – or through the delivery of weapons and training of troops, as was evident in the cases of India and Vietnam, for example. But this presence began to decline gradually after the end of the Cold War for two main reasons: First, most of the Soviet Union’s proxy countries began opening up to the West and adopting free markets; second, Moscow became too preoccupied with its own domestic politics and the need to address the failing economy.
Today, we are witnessing something like a Russian awakening in terms of the need to return to the Asian theater, particularly in terms of not leaving it up for grabs to US or China. This is being achieved through Moscow’s same old tricks; that is, by signing extensive arms deals. This has been the case with Vietnam, when, in September 2018, Hanoi and Moscow signed a $1 billion military deal. Previously, the two countries had signed a $2 billion contract to provide Hanoi with six submarines, the first of which had already been sent to Hanoi in January 2017.
What happened between Russia and Vietnam was repeated with India, a former strategic ally of the Soviet Union. In October 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited New Delhi for the signing of a $5 billion military deal, under which the Russians would provide the Indians with sophisticated Russian S-400 missile defense systems. Analysts say India had to buy weapons to protect its territory from potential threats following the incursion of Chinese forces into the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan.
Moscow’s return to Asia comes at a time when the Asian geopolitical landscape has changed, with the advent of the Chinese dragon as a politically, militarily and economically vigorous force with ambitious targets in the Indian and Pacific oceans. But Moscow appears to be sticking to its ambitions and betting that its policies will parallel Beijing’s policies to counter US and Western influence in Asia. The most recent evidence is an unprecedented joint air exercise between the Russian and Chinese air forces over the Sea of Japan, not to mention a joint military exercise last year – for the first time since the 1960s – involving 300,000 Russian troops and about 3,200 Chinese Red Army soldiers. However, Russian-Chinese cooperation could be undone by suspicions and concerns in Beijing. The Chinese are alarmed by the military agreements Moscow has concluded with two bitter rivals (India and Vietnam).
So it is said that Moscow is trying to satisfy Beijing by exporting its sophisticated weapons to China as well. In 2017 alone, Moscow sold Beijing $15 billion worth of weapons, including advanced Sukhoi fighter jets, air-to-air missiles. Moscow is also courting Indonesia, with which it signed weapon deals amounting to $2.5 billion at a time when Washington and the West banned weapons sales to Indonesia because of Jakarta’s crackdown on East Timor. What happened in Indonesia also applies to Myanmar, which, after facing a Western arms embargo due to its repressive policies, has become dependent on Russia for arms and diplomatic support. –Abdallah al-Madani

Al-Arab, London, August 17
After four decades of Iranian meddling in its neighbors’ affairs, we can now confidently say – based on historical evidence – that Tehran’s actions amount to real war crimes. Sadly, however, the international community has refused to punish Iran. Indeed, the majority of countries who proudly claim to fight terrorism have left Iran unscathed, dealing with the mullahs opportunistically – by embracing them when there is a financial interest and reprimanding them when there isn’t.
No city or village in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan, nor some is East Asia, Europe, and Central America have been spared the evils of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Iran’s strength stems from two main sources. The first is its weaponry, whether these were inherited from the Shah’s regime or later obtained from North Korea, Russia and China.
The second is the parties, organizations and militias that have been formed by the Iranian regime and used to spread its influence to neighboring countries. These include sleeper cells and proxy mercenaries, which are moved from time to time in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the regime. Thankfully, this status quo, which lasted for some four decades, began to change slowly thanks to US President Donald Trump and his decision to confront Iran.
Now, the mullahs face two problems. Their use of battleships, aircraft carriers and intercontinental missiles and satellites have effectively rendered the mullahs’ physical weapons ineffective. Second, Iran’s armed wings in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen can no longer do anything of real military value in support of the regime due to a lack of funding and arms. As for the dormant cells of the regime, their dismantling, one after another, is well under way. Similarly, international travel has become one of the most difficult things for anyone suspected of association with the Iranian regime. To put it more clearly, all of these Iranian proxies are like flies trapped in a glass bottle, seen by others but unable to hurt anyone but themselves. They will eventually get burnt out and lose their wings. –Ibrahim al-Zayadi

The Media Line

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