‘No Arab, GCC country has time or capacity to save situation in Yemen’
Yemen is sinking deeper into political chaos with Shiite Houthi forces advancing to the south of the country, claiming capture of the southern seaport of Aden, Yemeni President Hadi’s stronghold.
RT:The US has been pumping cash and weapons into Yemen - and now it's evacuating its personnel because of the turmoil. What does this tell us about the effectiveness of America's strategy?
Baraa Shiban: I think the US never really cared whether the government in Yemen was democratically elected or if the government is representative of the Yemeni people as long as the government will continue supporting this counter-terrorism operation in the country. And I think this strategy has been followed since the days of [former President Ali Abdullah] Saleh and their main concern when Saleh was changed was whether [President Abdrabbuh Mansour] Hadi will be committed to the drone program, to the counter-terrorism operations. And I don’t see an end to the drone program even if Hadi was gone.
RT:Just six months ago Obama heralded the anti-terror campaign in Yemen as the template for other counter-terrorism efforts. But doesn't the outcome in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya suggest the US doesn't fully understand the countries it intervenes in?
BS: I think what we should learn here is that leaders do come and go, but actually the people on the ground are the people that all the international community should be working with and the people will remain. Saleh was in power for 33 years and then he was gone, now it’s Hadi. But the people who either benefited or got harmed by those strategies are the people on the ground. And I think you should have long-term sustainable programs with people instead of undemocratic governments.
RT:Could the whole situation in Yemen transform into a war?
BS: Unfortunately we are seeing the situation moving towards that direction. Just before this interview, …a number of sources told me that the air strikes have started to hit the presidential compound inside Aden. This means that even the tribal areas around Aden are experiencing right now heavy clashes with Houthi fighters and Saleh loyalists which I think is leading to a long-term unstable situation where more areas will join the fight and then we’ll have a large area on the ground that are entering small clashes that might eventually lead to a full-blown civil war.
RT:There are reports Saudi Arabia is moving heavy artillery and weaponry to its border with Yemen. How do you read this development?
BS: I don’t think this initiative can actually advance any further towards Yemen. They are already too late. And I think any attempt to save Hadi at the moment would be just getting him out of the country. The Houthi forces are moving towards Aden and I expect them to reach it anytime today. Hadi has requested many times the GCC countries to send aerial support to help his forces but I think time has passed now.
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