‘There can be only homegrown political solution to Yemen Houthi crisis’
RT:The Arab League has agreed to create a joint military force. What does that mean? Are they preparing for a ground invasion of Yemen?
Ibrahim Alloush: I really suspect that a ground invasion is off limits right now because Yemen is a very complex situation, the terrain geographically as well as demographically is so intermingled that a ground war basically means a war of attrition. So should that happen, the war would be long, protracted and it will foment unrest within Saudi Arabia itself. Already what Saudi Arabia is doing threatens the internal stability of the country because some of the people that Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen have extensions and kin within Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Middle Eastern studies professor at University of the San Francisco comments on Yemeni crisis: “There are legitimate concerns about the Houthis advance; they’ve gone well beyond what could reasonably be a considered a legitimate defense of their rights as a minority… At the same time I think the main problem with Yemen, what sparked this crisis, is that when you have that broadly based non-violent pro-democracy movement with literally millions of people on the streets demanding greater democracy and accountability, you had the Saudis with US support coming in to basically manage the transition, not including the civil society groups that work for democracy, but instead brought on by the vice president of the authoritarian president that had been overthrown… The only political solution I see is going back to square one, and include not just the elite forces of the former regime and their armed opponents and the Saudi and US appointed replacements, but the people representing the majority of the Yemenis themselves”.
RT:Is there a military solution to the situation in Yemen?
IA: I do not think so. There is only a political solution to the situation in Yemen. The intervention of Saudi Arabia on behalf of what it calls the legitimate government in Yemen stands against the policies of Saudi Arabia - in the past four years in Syria it was supporting the so-called rebels against the legitimate government of Bashar Assad. The same story is told all over the place as far as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states lending support to Islamist jihadists throughout the Arab world. So that…claim that it is supporting the legitimate government stands against the very policies of Saudi Arabia. I think the political solution is the only one that could be imagined within Yemen. Such a political solution cannot be produced in Riyadh, it cannot be produced outside Yemen, it has to be a homegrown political solution, and otherwise it has no future. As we have, Hadi does not have enough strength within Yemen to tip the balance in his favor, even to stand his ground and defend his little enclave in Aden. So we need to speak about the major players in Yemen…The main players on the ground in Yemen today are not just the Houthis but also the army sections that are loyal to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. There are plenty within the Yemeni army - the Special Forces, the Air Force and many sectors of the military - that are still loyal to Saleh and they are the ones spearheading the fight right now against Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not only attacking the Houthis its attacking civilians as well as Yemeni troops, the legitimate Yemeni troops.
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Middle Eastern studies professor at University of the San Francisco comments on Yemeni crisis: “When it comes to democracy, human rights, when it comes to armed opposition and etc. the US, like a lot of major powers, sees it in terms of which party more represents their interests not necessarily who is legitimate and who is violating human rights.”
RT:The head of the Arab League says international intervention in Yemen will help restore Arab security. What are your thoughts on this?
IA: Well, we have seen what international intervention can do. Wherever there was an international intervention in the Arab world, such as in Libya for example in 2011 or elsewhere, basically that has led to the dismantling of the central government and the rise of sectarian strife, prolonged civilian unrest, the emergence of little enclaves controlled by al-Qaeda and ISIS and similar groups. So international intervention in fact is already underway because the US is lending logistical support to the Saudi and allied intervention in Yemen. These might be planes carrying the Saudi flag, but they are American planes, run under American command basically, under political cover from the US government. This is no different than the invasion of Libya, this is a violation of the sovereignty of another state and the US and NATO looms large in the background in this invasion.
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Middle Eastern studies professor at University of the San Francisco comments on foreign intervention in Yemen: “Whenever you have foreign intervention especially by authoritarian regimes, whenever you try to impose a solution from the outside by force it almost inevitably leads to greater instability. And again the only real hope for stability is to have a solution that includes as broad representation of the civil society as possible. Again despite the stereotypes that people often have of the Arab world, particularly in poor countries like Yemen, people there like everywhere else do want representative accountable government. They do not want to have governance imposed on them by armed factions or by foreign intervention.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.