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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Houthis seek to impose a new reality on Yemen

What the Arabic media is saying about the situation in Yemen. Translated by Racha Makarem

What the Arabic media is saying about the situation in Yemen. What does it mean that Houthi militias have surrounded the Yemeni capital of Sanaa brandishing photos of Ayatollah Al Khomeini, asked columnist Jamil Al Dhiyabi in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

And what does it mean when Houthis threaten Yemeni tribes and provinces and engage in armed confrontation with the country’s security forces? What’s to be expected of the insurgent militia’s persistence in imposing its terms on all Yemenis?

“If there was any ambiguity about the Houthi insurgents’ intentions and objectives in the past, they have certainly been elucidated in the past few days as militants besieged the capital city in order to forcefully impose a new political reality,” said the writer.

From a military perspective, insurgents are expanding and gaining in power inside Yemen as they take advantage of president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s frail authority and the tribal and political conflict among Yemeni parties since the popular uprising back in 2011.

“The Houthi group’s approach is in many ways similar to that of Hizbollah in Lebanon. Both religiously based, Iran-backed groups follow the same military doctrine and glorify the Khomeini revolution in Iran,” he added.

Their objectives are one and the same: to take power in their respective countries and impose their authority as a fait accompli, paving the way for Iran to step in and distract neighbouring Saudi Arabia and deplete its forces in new border altercations.

Saudi Arabia defeated insurgent and infiltrating Houthis in skirmishes in 2009, but this doesn’t mean that the militia doesn’t have plans to reinfiltrate Saudi territory and pull it into a new battle at the behest of Tehran, regardless of any deals with the government, the writer claimed.

Earlier this week, Yemen’s government and the Shiite rebels signed a UN-brokered peace deal after rebels seized the government headquarters forcing the prime minister to resign. The peace deal ended days of violence in Sanaa that killed more than 140 people.

In comment, the columnist Rajeh Al Khouri wrote in the Lebanese daily Annahar: “The Yemeni president would have been better advised had he read out a capitulation statement rather than announcing successful negotiations among political partners that led to a historic deal that guarantees the country’s survival.”

“Historic deal? Not entirely. More precisely, it’s Yemen that has become a historical relic,” the writer claimed. It is still unclear at the moment whether the deal would bring an end to the crisis or entrench it even further. Only hours after the deal was announced, Houthis sent reinforcements to Sanaa instead of withdrawing their armed militants from the streets.

The forced deal only establishes the Houthi-Iranian hold over Yemen, leading to two new conflict fronts, he opined: one in the south, which would certainly lead to its secession at the hands of active Islamists there, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. He said there was another front in the north of the country that Houthis wouldn’t be able to fully control as its Sunni components would stage resistance.

“It is clear that the rushed invasion of Sanaa to impose Iran’s authority falls in line with Iranian plans to substitute Yemen for Syria,” Al Khouri wrote. “Tehran is wary of losing its grip on the Syrian regime to ISIL and is enraged because of Saudi’s role in the international coalition against the extremist group,” he added.

But Yemen would never be Syria’s substitute for Iran. It will continue to be a hub for conflicts and wars, the writer concluded.

Translated by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae