‘UN arms embargo on Houthis not peace prescription, US should leave the region’
The UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Russia was the only abstention out of the Security Council members.
RT:How will this decision by the UN Security Council affect the conflict?
Brian Becker: The United Nations Security Council resolution on Yemen, the so-called arms embargo resolution is not a prescription for peace. It is not designed to stop the war. It is designed to assign blame to those who are the targets of the Saudi and other royal families of the Gulf region bombing. You see that the US and its allies in particular Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies are assigning blame through the resolution. What Yemen needs is peace, and what Yemen needs is a stop to the bombing of its cities by foreign powers, and what Yemen needs above all else is the ability to solve its own problems. The UN resolution doesn’t speak to that.
BB: What the Russians were trying to do - as was the Iranian government - is to find a negotiated settlement. The Saudi government, the Saudi monarchy with the support of the US and Egypt is bombing Yemen not in order to do anything but in order to regain control of that country. A real peace settlement would include bringing all the different players to the table. The Russian government abstained - they had their own resolution which had called for an arms embargo on all the different parties involved in the Yemen conflict, not just those domestically but those from the region. Iran too has a peace plan, but that was ignored by yesterday’s UN resolution.
RT:The US obviously supported the resolution, saying it will help end the conflict. According to Human Rights Watch, Washington already made itself part of the conflict by providing intelligence. Isn't it time for Washington to stop interfering?
BB: If you look back at the last 12 years you can come to no other conclusion that it was the US policy in the Middle East - the invasion of Iraq principally that has allowed the fragmentation of the countries of the region including Yemen. This conflict is very good for the US military industrial complex: Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies keep using Arab oil wealth to buy American weapons, to the extent that those weapons are now used in the conflict and then reused again. The military industrial complex in the US is a beneficiary. But for the people of Yemen, for the people who have had their country ripped apart and had it fragmented this is a terrible tragedy. The US needs to leave Yemen; it needs to leave the Middle East. Of course it won’t do so without a struggle. But that’s actually the prescription for peace.
RT:Who's been supplying the Houthis with weapons in the first place? They obviously got them somewhere...
BB: The Houthis and all the different warring parties are getting weapons many of which are manufactured outside. The US government in the media and the Saudi royal family are suggesting that the Houthis are nothing other than a military extension and proxy of the Iranian military. Yes, there are alliances between some of the Houthi forces and the Iranian government. But I think to describe what is going on inside of Yemen as a proxy war by the Iranian government is superficial at the best, and really…nothing other but propaganda.
Saudi campaign not anti-Houthi, but anti-Iran
Max Abrahms from Boston’s Northeastern University gives his opinion on the situation in Yemen.
RT:The Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis is near completing its third week without major breakthroughs. The rebels have been able to even extend the territory under their control. They are still holed up in parts of the southern city of Aden that is torn by fighting. So, are the coalition forces reaching their target?
Max Abrahms: I don’t think the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis is working very well at all. For starters, it is a campaign waged entirely from the sky. We know that in counter-insurgency the requirement for success is to have boots on the ground. The Saudis can continue bomb the lights out of the Houthis, but they are only tearing up the country of Yemen. There have been many hundreds of deaths including hundreds of civilian deaths. There is a huge problem internally in terms of the displacement of people; refugees are fleeing in the hundreds, even over a thousand into the Horn of Africa.
.. Yemen - which already was in deep trouble, was already the poorest Arab country in the world, as well frankly as one of the most corrupt - is spiraling and now the situation is even worse. And despite all this carnage and bloodshed, and pain the Houthis continue to advance. So the Saudis can’t be very pleased with how things are working out.
RT:Do you think Saudi Arabia will eventually launch a ground offensive which its officials have been warning of its possibility?
MA: Yes, it is a very real possibility that the Saudis will come to the conclusion that airstrikes alone are insufficient in terms of beating back the Houthi advance. The Saudis are in conversations with the Egyptians about their placing ground forces… At this point both Saudis and the Egyptians have been very reluctant to use ground forces. Historically in Yemen ground forces have not fared very well. It has been very difficult to gain control over that country. Yet, I think that particularly if the Sunni world, specifically the Saudis and the Egyptians think that the Iranians are supporting the Houthis more and more they may well use ground troops not so much because they are anti-Houthi but because they are anti-Iran.
RT:One of the main objectives of this campaign was to make sure that Saudi Arabia itself would not be affected by the conflict. But if the rebels eventually gain victory how will things change for Saudis with a volatile neighbor country right on its border? Do you see a possibility of a spillover into Saudi Arabia?
MA: I don’t see a real possibility that the Houthis will advance from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. I believe that the Saudis have put some troops and military installations on the border if there might be a Houthi advance. But that doesn’t seem likely for a number of reasons. The first is that the Houthis are indigenous to Yemen where a lot of these Sunni actors are external- they are coming from Saudi Arabia, and then this ten-member coalition...
Because the Houthis are indigenous to Yemen I don’t expect them to be expansionist and to try to push beyond the borders. Furthermore, the Iranians are not encouraging the Houthis, based on evidence that I’ve seen, to expand the operation, that Iranians are basically saying that: “We want a more expansive government that would include the Houthis” – that would essentially grant them more power than they have. Iran is not encouraging the Houthis to escalate but rather Iran is hoping that the Sunni world will roll back the advances of the Houthis on the condition that they will have an expanded role within the government. So neither Iran, nor the Houthis seem to have the ambitions on having this conflict in Yemen spread into Saudi Arabia.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.