Only regional consensus can stop Yemen war, UN resolutions won't

Saudi army artillery fire shells towards Houthi positions from the Saudi border with Yemen April 13, 2015. (Reuters / Faisal Al Nasser)
​Saudi-led military aggression in Yemen is against international law and will not help stop the crisis, former UN spokesperson for Iraq, Said Arikat, told RT, adding that only a mutual agreement of regional powers, including Iran, can stop the violence.

RT:What do you make of this resolution? How effective do you think it will be in stopping the violence on the ground in Yemen? It clearly does not call on Saudi Arabia to stop bombings.

Said Arikat: Well, it will not do much, to answer your question directly. We have experienced similar resolutions in the past, and really when it comes to what happens on the ground, they don’t really do that much. Because all the bombing even, thus far, led by Saudi Arabia has not really changed the calculus on the ground or changed the realities on the ground.

But unfortunately I think the failure to address the humanitarian disaster that is taking place – 120,000 refugees, more than 2,500 civilians injured thus far, no one really knows how many – is I think a major failure on the part of the UN, on the part of the world community. And not addressing that is not going to resolve the issue. You have to deal with it.

There are two sides to this crisis. There are the Houthis of course, but also there is an aggression going on, if you will, from aerial bombardment and that is not helping the situation. It is not going to resolve it unless the UN steps in and says we're going to deal with the issues and brings in all the combatants into some sort of negotiations.

READ MORE: UN sanctions Houthis in Yemen, ignores Russian calls for all-inclusive arms embargo

RT:Well that was Russia’s problem with this resolution. They were the only member to actually abstain from it. What do you think then is the solution, other than bringing both sides to the table? What about the reality, what will stop the violence in Yemen?

SA: Well, I think regional agreement will stop violence in Yemen. Look by any other description what the Saudis are leading is really a form of aggression. So you need to bring in the Saudis, you need to bring the Gulf States that brokered the deal to begin with. It was the GCC resolution, or sort of a solution, that made Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave his position to begin with.

So you need to bring in all those people, you need to bring in Russia, and you definitely need to bring in Iran. Because you see this is the regional instability, and Iran is a major part of it. So you have to bring in all these people, especially under allegations that Iran is helping the Houthis rebels, which may or may not be true. We don't know. But you certainly need to bring them in. That is a very strategic area, Bab-el-Mandeb is one of the major straits in this world. It affects shipping, and affects the transport of oil and all these things. So this is not the area that should be left to the winds of fortune, so to speak, but rather you need to deal with these issues. Yes it can be done as part of a larger regional agreement.

RT:Why bring the UN now? Why was there no vote on whether Saudi Arabia and coalition should intervene in the first place?

SA: Well, it is a very good question. The Saudis took it upon themselves, and apparently they inducted most of the Arab countries there, definitely most of the GCC, UAE, probably Qatar, now the Jordanians, and we hear about the Egyptians even now participating in the aerial bombardment.

They did not go through the UN. There was no call, let’s say even from Russia, to go to the UN for the Saudis. This bombardment has gone on now for almost four weeks. So yes, there needs to be some sort of international community agreement or approach to the crisis.

RT:Does it not make it technically against international law then?

SA: Indeed. I think it is anytime you have a group of countries that decide upon themselves to go to war against a country under any pretext. You know, the Houthis were moving south really, away from the Saudi border, rather than towards the Saudi border. So to say they were going in to protect our borders, as they said to begin with, that was a false argument. Really it is against international law.

RT:The US has been involved in Yemen for years. The Saudi ambassador recently told Meet the Press that they were working very closely with Washington and government agencies there. Saudi Arabia is being helped gather intelligence. Why is US failing to evacuate its citizens from the war zone? Is explanation given by the State Department sound convincing to you?

SA: No. I was there for this particular briefing. We asked the spokesperson and she of course failed to answer as to why. I think they relied on other countries. They thanked Russia basically for helping to evacuate some Americans, about 150 of them. Overwhelmingly these Americans are of Yemeni descent, and Yemeni with dual citizenship and so on. The US probably from a security point of view feels if they sent in an American ship, it will be a big target for hostile groups and so on. So that is probably the pretext, the pretext is a security one.

But definitely failure to evacuate American citizens does not speak well for the US. I followed that line of questioning. What about the ones that already left Yemen and went to Djibouti? And basically they said we’re telling them where to go, what to do, and they offered no transportation. So not only Americans in Yemen are left behind, but also Americans that have left Yemen and gone to places like Djibouti or elsewhere, they may be stranded as well.