Voices from the Arab press: Who said Saudis want victory in Yemen?

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world

NSPECTING A home damaged by an intercepted missile in the aftermath of what the Saudi-led coalition said was a thwarted Houthi missile attack, in Riyadh on February 28. (photo credit: AHMED YOSRI/ REUTERS)
NSPECTING A home damaged by an intercepted missile in the aftermath of what the Saudi-led coalition said was a thwarted Houthi missile attack, in Riyadh on February 28.
(photo credit: AHMED YOSRI/ REUTERS)
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, March 26
Throughout history, Saudi Arabia maintained a positive relationship with the Republic of Yemen. Even when the country was divided into two states, Riyadh managed its intricate relations with each capital, Sanaa and Aden, with balance and wisdom. All of this took place despite the two sides’ ideological differences, which meant that Saudi Arabia often had to practice restraint and self-discipline. Even during the first Houthi war of 2009, the Saudi response was tame. Riyadh wanted to protect the central government in Sanaa and knew that Houthi terrorism doesn’t necessarily require a full-fledged war with the Republic of Yemen. 
But all this changed after the Houthis occupied Sanaa and tried to topple the central government, replacing it with a Tehran-backed authority. This became the first time in modern history where an armed militia took power over state institutions, including a state-backed military, state-backed financial institutions, and a state-backed political apparatus. Because of the dire situation – and the desperate cry for help by the ousted Yemeni government – Saudi Arabia had no choice but to intervene. 
Its military operation was meant to prevent the Yemeni people from falling victim to abuse, theft and forced killings. Furthermore, Yemen was becoming another Iranian statelet in the Middle East. This costly action taken by Riyadh was a noble act, since it spared the international community the need to intervene in the war itself. Saudi Arabia fulfilled its duty as the leader of the Arab world to stand up to Iran and step into the war. Therefore, from the very outset, Riyadh had no military ambitions in Yemen other than restoring political order and pushing Iran away from the region. 
Those who portray Saudi Arabia’s military operation as a failure are simply promoting Iranian propaganda. In reality, the war is between the Yemeni Army led by President Abd Rabbo Hadi and a terrorist organization under the leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Saudis are not interested in achieving a military victory at all. Rather, they’re interested in ensuring peace through whatever compromise or resolution the people of Yemen reach. 
Riyadh’s intervention in Yemen didn’t come out of a search for glory. Rather, it came out of the inability of the international community to take action against the terrorist regime in Tehran. Riyadh’s only motivation is to help alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, who have been living under atrocious conditions for over seven years. – Muhammad Al-Saed 



Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, March 25
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently announced that the Biden administration has chosen Sen. Chris Coons as its special envoy to Ethiopia. According to Sullivan’s statement, Coons was due to arrive in Addis Ababa within days in order to hold meetings with Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister. 
When I read this news, I was elated. I was immediately filled with optimism and joy – hoping that the arrival of the new envoy would imply that the Americans are finally exerting pressure on the Ethiopian government, pushing it to reach a resolution with Egypt and Sudan on the Renaissance Dam issue. However, my optimism quickly evaporated with the arrival of the envoy. 
The senator came to Ethiopia not only to meet with the Ethiopian prime minister, but also to hold meetings with officials of the African Union, whose headquarters is based in Addis Ababa, in order to “enhance” American-African relations. One would think that the envoy’s first visit to the region would revolve around the most burning regional issue of our time, but this wasn’t the case with Coons. Instead, the envoy focused his visit on demanding an investigation into human rights violations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. 
This is all that mattered to Coons and, one can only imagine, to President Biden, who sent him there. Apparently, the issue of the Renaissance Dam, which threatens the lives of 130 million people in Egypt and Sudan, isn’t a major concern for the Biden administration. In fact, it turns out that the Biden administration refused to stop aid to Ethiopia until the latter took positive steps on the issue of the dam. Certainly, the Biden administration seems determined to make every possible mistake in the book. Since their logic is far beyond me, perhaps we need a cup or palm reader to try and decipher what exactly the Americans are trying to achieve in the region. – Suleiman Jawda



Al-Etihad, UAE, March 27
Israelis went to the polls last week for the fourth time in two years. Certainly, they are strange elections, partly because some consider them very important, while others view them as insignificant. Perhaps the only suspense that this election entailed was whether or not Binyamin Netanyahu’s political life would come to an end. Given the fact that Netanyahu has been prime minister for 15 of the past 25 years — and for the last 12 years in a row — one could argue that these elections were really a referendum about him. 
Americans also followed the election closely. Netanyahu’s policies over the past 25 years have frustrated the Democratic administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Instead of cultivating bipartisan support for his country, the Israeli premier focused most of his energy on cultivating close partnerships with the key figures in the Republican Party, as well as neoconservative right-wing Christians. This partisanship only worsened over the past four years thanks to Netanyahu’s complete embrace of Donald Trump. Many liberal supporters of Israel in the United States hope to see Netanyahu go. This is the only chance, in their eyes, to restore Israel’s ties with the Democratic Party. 
One thing that’s clear is that these elections had nothing to do with peace. Netanyahu and his political opponents alike all view Israel’s control over the occupied West Bank and the expansion of Israeli settlements as a legitimate policy. Therefore, the Palestinians will continue being deprived of a homeland regardless of who ultimately forms a government in Israel. The truth is that the Palestinians and their supporters are baffled when they hear and read commentators in the United States referring to these elections as elections that bring together the right-wing (Netanyahu and religious parties) against a coalition of what might be called the “Center-Left,” because the Israeli political scene has tilted so much to the right. 
The real Israeli Left — the one that believes in ending the occupation and reaching peace with the Palestinians — doesn’t represent more than six seats in the Knesset. With such a small share of power, these voices are highly unlikely to influence the policies of the next government, whether it is led by Netanyahu or one of his rivals. What the Palestinians fear the most is a new so-called “liberal” government that will improve Israel’s public relations around the world without changing any of Israel’s stance towards the Palestinians. Israel will gain meaningful diplomatic breathing room while the Palestinians will remain oppressed and disenfranchised. – James Zogby 



Al-Qabas, Kuwait, March 27
The latest trend in the world of social media is called Clubhouse: a mobile app that facilitates audio-only discussion rooms. In Kuwait, the popularity of this app has skyrocketed over the past few weeks, with notable politicians, celebrities and influencers launching discussions on the app while the public listens and engages. However, with the rapid spread of that app, voices have started calling to block Clubhouse in Kuwait for its potential harm to society, security and education. 
Some countries have already blocked the platform – including China, Jordan and the Sultanate of Oman. Allow me to weigh in on this debate for a short while. At the outset, let us all agree that everything in our world has both advantages and disadvantages. For example, a car or an airplane can both be means of transportation, but may also be killing tools if and when they are misused. Indeed, most things in life are potential double-edged swords. The idea isn’t to ban them, but rather to regulate them. 
The idea that every new technology that emerges must be blocked or banned to protect our youth is absurd. What about our freedoms? What about our ability to keep up with new developments in our world? Our younger generation must be exposed to all means of expression, both good and bad. Control over who uses the app and how much must be done on the individual, not national, level. Once the government makes a decision instead of the people, personal freedom is encroached. 
Furthermore, I think that the fascination with Clubhouse will gradually disappear. Unlike other apps that allow users to comment and share at whatever time he or she chooses, Clubhouse allows users to engage with content only when live conversations take place. Therefore, it is a true waste of time – and most Kuwaitis are likely to continue using traditional social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram instead. – Bassam Al-Asousi 
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.