Yemen: West’s double standards again?

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Followers of the Houthi movement raise their rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)
The international community is extremely concerned over the latest developments in the Republic of Yemen, the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of which Russia has always and consistently supported.

Given the regional and geopolitical aspects, preventing the current crisis from becoming a Sunni-Shia confrontation must be an immediate priority. Those who are deliberately prodding the situation into a hot phase will take upon themselves huge responsibility. We must prevent this, and we must also prevent attempts to turn this situation into an open conflict between Arabs and Iran. Russia has been warning of the serious danger of an inter-Islamic schism since the beginning of the Arab Spring. But our arguments were either not heard or disregarded.

We consider it vital that all the parties involved in the Yemeni conflict and their external allies immediately cease any forms of warfare. The Ansar Allah armed group must stop hostilities in southern Yemen, and the regional coalition forces must stop their strikes. Both sides – the supporters of Yemeni President Hadi and Shia Houthi rebels – must resume negotiations.

Indeed, they maintained contact before the hot phase of the conflict. There is a shared understanding that the talks should be held on neutral ground, as the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Yemen has proposed. No one should doubt that the deep-running differences in this country can be resolved only on the basis of a broad national dialogue. Russia, for its part, will step up efforts towards promoting peaceful solutions to the conflict in Yemen both in its contacts with the parties involved in the Yemeni events, and at the United Nations.

As far as the wider international context is concerned, what we are seeing in Yemen is a clear example of double standards. The United States’ stance on the events in this country is diametrically opposite to its approach towards the events in Ukraine.

In February 2014, the then President Viktor Yanukovich lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the West as soon as he left his capital, despite the fact that his life was under direct and immediate threat. Why couldn’t he be treated in the same way as President Hadi who has invited a foreign intervention after fleeing the country? The violent protest movement in Kiev that didn’t hide either its neo-Nazi credentials or direct foreign support was portrayed as a manifestation of the will of the people, whereas the Houthi movement in Yemen, which for all its shortcomings is genuinely indigenous, is being labeled as foreign puppets.

Ultimately, what is needed is a universal approach to these issues. It is worth mentioning that in September, 2014, during the UN General Assembly session Russia proposed adopting a detailed declaration that would uphold one of the principles of the UN Charter, namely, the obligation of states to prevent interference in the domestic affairs of each other and to highlight the inadmissibility of changing legitimate governments by way of violent coups. Maybe, time has come to do the right thing?


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.