Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – Sorbonne
The Yemen is undergoing an inglorious and frightful war. Most of the Yemeni army and population are at this very moment suffering the devastating effects of repeated large-scale bombings and of economic and strategic embargos. The rationing of food, medicine, first-aid products and services is currently a daily reality for the inhabitants of the country’s large cities and small villages alike. Acting now against the censorship surrounding occurrences of such extreme gravity, the PAG remains faithful to its vocation of freely animating debates on current unedited and original themes. The works of the best specialists, on this destabilizing of Yemen within the framework of regional strategies of far larger scope, have been solicited.
Likewise, the question of the status and of the legitimacy of the Saudi and Western intervention has assumed its full import, along with numerous geopolitical analyses on the complete implications of many international actors.
The particular characteristics of this aggression, that saw the constitution of a coalition of petro-monarchies, has been underlined as has the technical aspect of manifest recourse to particularly destructive arms of high technology. True to its habit, the PAG has chosen a pluridisciplinary approach and has benefited from the expertise of top analysts informed on this sensitive dossier. It has been necessary to apply oneself on the decline of the indigenous forces, the conniving States, the financing of the terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida … all these have been covered by the pertinent analyses of numerous specialists, academicians, military personalities, diplomats, journalists, and so on, who participated in this symposium.
Mr. Ali Rastbeen, President of the Paris Academy of Geopolitics (PAG), by way of introduction, addressed the conference room.
Since the month of March this year, Yemen is transformed into a theatre of bloody combats that have already caused numerous victims. An illicit and destructive war is waged by Saudi Arabia and its Western and Arab allies against its neighbouring country, which is surely poor but important from an eventual geopolitical point of view, and this justifies to the warmongers attacking its territorial integrity, flouting there even the very elementary principles of human rights, and thereby providing the ideal opportunity for proliferation of terrorism and smuggling throughout this wounded land and even throughout the region.
In fact, amongst the Arabian Peninsula countries, the Yemen has been distinguished by several important aspects. First of all it occupies a strategic geographic position, at the crossroads of two continents: Asia and Africa, and with sea access. However, the development indicators are preoccupying: Yemen is apparently one of the world’s poorest countries, although it’s the second most populated Arab country of the peninsula.
However, Yemen maintains by its political attitude, the peninsula’s unique democracy, permitting the right for women to vote since 1970, this right being hitherto unknown in the Gulf countries.
Unfortunately, later in the 1990s, Yemen was against Western military intervention in the Gulf, and officially supported Saddam Hussain: just the socio-economic consequences were disastrous for this already impoverished country: some 900.000 Yemenis already settled throughout the Gulf countries, were forced to return to their own homeland, where the fragile political balance was shattered, became easily exploitable by any predating interest. The country mired into civil war in 1994.
With Al-Qaida firmly installed in Yemen since the year 2000, and maintaining there its central secondary base for the entire Peninsula, therefore as from year 2001 the United States and its allies were displaying a particular attention on the country, notably in the wake of the 11th September 2001 attacks. The country was further solicited by Saudi Arabia’s geostrategic interest, along with its allies, creating such anarchy that the country was forced into its 2011 Revolution, whose aims were:
– the fall of the oppressive oligarchical one-family regime
– the construction of a democratic civil State
– the adaptation of national education, to the needs and aspirations of the indigenous population
– a national economic structure incorporating every citizen
– a modern national army that serves the nation
– to guarantee the independence and impartiality of the judiciary power
The recent military attack by Saudi Arabia against Yemen just follows on those perpetrated in 2009 and 2010 that caused 1.600.000 victims, and ended up with the withdrawal of the Saudis, troops and all. This recent war has become a distinct case study, since no modern international principle or military value is accounted for.
If one examines the prevailing situation in Yemen between January and March 2015, we note that President Mansour Hadi’s mandate ended in February, however the latter resigned in January, and took refuge outside the country. Therefore it was apparently a contested exiled ex-President that required foreign military intervention into his ex-country – not from the United Nations of which Yemen is member, but from Saudi Arabia, a repressive country with regards human rights and that to date has exposed no clear peace project to follow up its military intervention.
In point of fact, many incoherencies are noted in the way that Yemen has been treated, singularly, by the UN Security Council that is apparently giving its approval to any and all armies to maintain forced armed crisis throughout the Middle East.
Therefore, before analysing what is really masked by this illegal war in Yemen and that only promises further upheavals for the Arab world, it seems clear that inter-yemeni dialogue must be firmly established as a prerequisite for extinguishing the crisis and for favouring durable stable peace. Then, the formation of a government of national unity is necessary to represent Yemen before the international instances, without foreign interference.
However, in all the present chaos in Yemen, it is convenient to ask oneself where are the international instances who are supposedly watching over justice, liberty, peace … elements indispensable to human dignity at the heart of all nations.
Moderator: Ali Rastbeen, president of the AGP
The moderator of the First Panel then left the floor to the first speaker, General Henri Paris, President of Démocraties magazine, who gave a speech on DAESH, Yemen and the Middle-East.
Early in 2010, the Arab world was shaken by a series of disturbances whose epicentre was in Tunisia. Progressively, agitation won over successive Arab countries, and eventually Yemen where there was already an intertribal civil war since 1980.
And as can be expected in contemporary times, the Yemeni civil war was troubled by foreign intervention, as much by the United States as by Saudi Arabia that was at the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These armed interventions were innovative, in that if the Saudis had already intervened militarily in Yemen, it was indeed the very first time that the GCC was dragged into the conflict and approved massive armed intervention just after having already intervened in Qatar where the question was a small one of law and order “disturbed by a Shiite minority draped in the colours of democracy”.
Unified Yemen has a surface area closely as large as continental France. It is populated by 26 million inhabitants in 2012, half are of the Sunni Chafi persuasion, and the other half are Shiite Zaydis. The immense majority of the country is desert, however petrol reserves are promising, discovered in the 80s and attracting all kinds of covetousness. The country’s chronic political and economic instability imposes permanent civil disturbances. There is no solution, even on the horizon. President Al-Saleh, a Zaydi, was ousted in favour of Al-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, also a Zaydi and back in power since this month, but for how long?
The Salaffis and Wahhabis have added their share of confusion, by episodic armed intervention. The Houtis (named after their first leader), depend on Shiite tribes from South Saudi Arabia who have not hesitated to spread the war into Saudi Arabia. As a result Yemen is the theatre of a war of mercenaries between Saudis and Iranians. Each side supports materially its own, including in weaponry. Americans, in support of Saudis against Iranians, are not outdone in these respects.
This region of the globe offers as of essential interest, the naval base and sea-port of Aden, command over the Bab-el-Mandeb Straits and Djibouti, all giving onto the Red Sea.
The Arabian Peninsula GCC has 6 petro-monarchy members: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. This presents 49 million inhabitants in 2015, and a lot of petrodollars.
Yemen being too unstable and unpredictable is kept out of the GCC whose aim is very exactly to promote and control regional stability. On the other hand, military intervention into Yemen is perfectly in keeping with GCC political ambitions: Saudi Arabia has taken charge of this aspect, under the pretext that the Yemeni Houtis had attacked Saudi Arabia.
On 2nd June 2015, the coalition of 22 States united against Daesh held a meet at Paris and exposed the anxiety felt at Irak’s Ramadi defeat. The Americans are the most reticent, besides, in agreement with the French and other coalition members, they refuse to send in ground troops and content themselves with bombing excessively Daesh positions.
The embroglio launched by Daesh isn’t about to be lifted, especially in Yemen, if all is not done to save this small country of recognized global geopolitical.
Next, Mr. Alain Corvez, Adviser in international strategy, presented his study on the Yemen: Strategic error by Saudi Arabia and injury to the cradle of Arabism.
Last 26th March, by unleashing murderous air-strikes on Yemen without the authorization of any global organization and even, according to reports, without even consulting its great far-Atlantic ally, Saudi Arabia initiated military strikes against a UN member-State that didn’t provoke any claim of violation of international law against the Atlantic camp, whereas Russia and China drew the attention of the UN General Secretary on the dangers and drama that these air-strikes, decided unilaterally, provoke.
The United States, put to responsibility, had to react rapidly by supporting their ally, however General Lloyd Austin, Chief of Central Command at Washington, recognized at the end of March that he had no idea of the goals of the war or of the intended targets. Since then, American cooperation limits itself to information, exposing charitable intentions in the face of bad luck, just not to lose face. It’s clear that at the moment they are ready to sign an agreement with Iran, they want, yet again, to assure their Gulf allies, and without doubt Israel also, that they are not abandoning anyone.
However, all the strategy experts know that these strikes that are destroying the infrastructure of an impoverished nation, murdering innocent civilians, depriving populations of basic life support, notably water by destroying dams, would lead nowhere good, indeed only facilitate proliferation of terrorism (especially Al-Qaida, in that region) and anarchy. The war that Saudi Arabia wants, with the support of its GCC cronies, aiming to keep in power its protégé Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi currently a refugee on its soil, can only be won on land, and it is incapable of that. All the more so that revolts in the interior threaten every land tactic.
The Houti “rebels” trying to survive in their own country are allied to the former army of President Saleh who had accepted to retire from power, in the stride of the Arab revolts initiated in 2011, with political compromise, and have shown that they know how to war and have strategy experts better aware than those of their opponents. The bombings of the frontier provinces in South Arabia, territory moreover historically contested by both sides, that they have unleashed in reprisal to air strikes are efficient, and further air strikes won’t put an end to that.
Arabia wants to see in the Houtis the trademark of Iran’s Shiites, that being entirely wrong, but it processes thus Netanyahou’s speech in Washington, to mock his action as a defence for the Peninsula’s Sunnis against Iranian ambitions, whereas the Yemen conflict is not based in religious rivalry.
Negotiations under way at Geneva have little chance of finalizing any agreement, so long as Arabia remains in its indefensible position, especially if the situation on the terrain deteriorates and if the United-States could bring them back to reason. It cannot win this war that results from the Royal Family’s internal rivalries, and can only find a humiliating way out and only after committing crimes against a country it has aggressed.
And bearing in mind that, as from 30th June 2015, if the nuclear agreement with Iran is signed, the main forces in the Middle-East shall no longer be the same.
Mr. Ugo Feracci, Saint-Cyrian and Specialist in Biological and Chemical Nuclear Defence at the National Infantry Installations, thereupon exposed his report on The Yemen War: What are the true causes?
A large amount of information relayed by media has become available since some months. Yemen that had only attracted episodic attention these past years – often upon evoking Oussama Ben Laden – is more than ever before the centre of news in 2015. In effect, war unfurls on Yemeni soil, and its implications are for the least complex and worrisome. What are the true causes of this war? It’s this question that it seems primordial to answer.
If it’s proving possible to determine with precision and intricacy the causes of this conflict, then, to anticipate its consequences on the region and on international relations shall perhaps be less hazardous.
The object of this exposé shall therefore be to attempt to reduce the incertitude and the mist that steals from our sight Yemen’s short and long term future. First, an analysis of space, as much physical as civilizational, shall be the opportunity for presenting Yemen’s North-South contrasts. Second, the road to Islamization of Yemen that set out only in the IXth Century is one side of the complex and structuring history that it is question of reviewing.
One shall then discover particular relations entertained with Persia, or even the economic turbulence ruining an otherwise rich country. Shiism shall be the object of a third subject development in order to have covered the period going from year 897 to 1839: in this part it’s the evolution of Shiite Yemen that shall have to retain our attention: its dynamics and the obstacles to its expansion. Finally, a dialectic section opposing dichotomous theory – whether this be a North/South partition or a Sunni/Shiite partition – and tribal or identity theory implicating several actors shall officialise as conclusion and lead to debate.
So it will be welcome to attempt to answer the following questions:
Is Iran really the key to the conflict?
What place for Islamic State in the Yemen war?
What strategy should Saudi Arabia adopt with regards Yemen?
Does petrol play an important role in the Yemen crisis?
What attitude could the international community adopt, and/or what attitude should it adopt?
Is this war at the heart of 21st Century Western problematics or is it but one of its epiphenomena, one of its collateral damages?
The fourth speaker, Mr. Youssef Hindi, a political writer, has wished to provide his knowledge of The Yemen, Interaction Playground for Regional Powers.
To know the Yemen situation and to anticipate the consequences of its evolution necessitates a background close-up of the entire Near East; likewise, regional power confrontation in Yemen, if we examine closely, offers a key to understanding the future of this Region.
Seen from one angle, the conflict underway in Yemen informs us more about the regional geopolitics of the situation than about Yemen itself. The current crisis in Yemen being a miniaturization of the local geopolitical chessboard implicating on the one hand Saudi Arabia – with Israel and the United States in the background – and on the other Iran and its allies, with Russia in the background. The main motivation behind the “Nato-style” Arab coalition aggression led by Saudi Arabia is the following: to bring the Yemen back into the Atlantic and Zionist bosom, just as the Saudis had done to Qatar and also Bahrain where they crushed the anti-regime revolt in 2011 because the United States had been granted an army base on the island.
The Arab coalition action is conform to American geo-energetic interests in the region. Moreover, from the Saudi point of view, it’s vital to prevent the Yemeni revolution from succeeding totally, as it would have a contagious repercussion in the Saudi Kingdom that is already threatening to implode, not only because of power struggles within the reigning family, but also because of the profoundly tribal nature of Arabia that threatens to reappear.
The Yemen revolution represents a danger for the Saud Family, which would become again what it was before having conquered Arabia: just one tribe among so many others. We can therefore, as from now anticipate the bursting of Arabia into tribal sub-regions.
The two main powers confronting each other in Yemen are Saudi Arabia and Iran (the latter actively supporting the Ansarrulah revolutionaries in Yemen). This confrontation enters into the Middle-East chessboard framework, in particular in Syria where Assad, an ally of Iran and of Russia supported by the Hezbollah, combats Daech that Iran is fighting directly in Iraq. If Saudi Arabia loses control of Daech, one must nevertheless not overestimate the autonomy of this State qualified as Islamic that the United States and the government of Maliki (Iraqi Prime-Minister till 2014) have let come about by voluntarily retreat of the Iraqi national troops.
The Saudis have certainly advanced one of their pawns in Yemen, but have let their guard down. An opportunity for Iran, by Ansarullah’s arm, to inflict on them a resounding defeat that would redesign the map of Arabia’s and thereafter redefine the relationships between forces throughout the Middle East.
The last speaker of this First Round Table was Jean Michel Vernochet, journalist, writer and recognized political scientist, who enriched us with his particular perspective on The Silence of the West in the face of Saudi Arabia and Al-Qaida hostilities against Yemen.
As is eminently exposed by the introduction to this symposium: “Yemen is undergoing an inglorious and frightful war!” A war all the more frightful that these events “of extreme gravity” are ceaselessly censured by Western Chancelleries in the international press. In consequence of which it’s always with some sort of wonder that one notes – in the context of wars in the Middle-East – the differences in information-processing from case to case.
Thus have we not all been witness to the anxiety and commotion that overwhelmed the media when Daech troops approached then seized the elegant Palmyra ruins. Or when, in the case of Hatra south of Mossoul or of the Mar Benam monastery (containing one of the most exceptional Syriac libraries) near Karakosh north of Mossoul, destroyed in mid-March by the Islamic State (The Independent, 21st March 2015) … or yet again of the Armenian sanctuary of Deir Ez-Zor (custodian of the Holocaust archives of 1915) that was annihilated a month later, in April, to the tune of the most absolute indifference.
One must, moreover, seek well on Google to locate any trace of these demands mostly revealed by discrete involvement of social networks. It is ensured that this information has evidently not done more than graze the more superficial and best-informed levels of opinion.
The same is true for Yemen, where Western television teams are not prevalent. So for the Yemen conflict we have a sort of geopolitical blind-eye, a shady area barely perceptible in the margin of misadventures affecting the World Football Federation … a blind-eye whose treatment and damage can at no moment compare to exposure consecrated to Royal births!
Certainly to illustrate the enormous information void – a lack that most of the time is evidently deliberate –we have begun by taking three examples primarily to illustrate a general attitude that cannot totally ignore criminal facts related to world archeology and heritage. Likewise the Yemen, otherwise forgotten, has in recent days been rather fleetingly propelled into media theatre because of bombs that apparently Riyad aviation dropped on a Sanaa neighbourhood registered on the Unesco inventory of humanity’s archeological treasures [nytimes.com/2015/06/13]. An eminently prejudicial fact that has crossed media space like a meteor. A fact that a fortiori hasn’t raised any inopportune indignation amongst those who just yesterday feared the Islamic State advancing through fields of old rocks. It’s true that a discreet veil – ignoring the dead and the devastation – surrounds Yemen events since the opening of this new war front.
Moderator: Christophe Reveillard, research director at the Sorbonne’s National Center for Scientific Research
Since 26th March last, the Saudi Army has been bogging down in military confrontation against Yemen nationals, and within the framework of a regional military coalition has been bombarding this territory of a neighbouring country, provoking material and human destruction.
This military intervention offends two principles of public international law: that of non-interference, and that of no-force treatment of international relations.
Article 2 Paragraph 7 of the United Nations Charter expresses: “No disposition of the present Charter authorizes the United Nations to intervene in affairs that are essentially of a State’s national competence, nor obliges Member-States to submit this kind of matter to s settlement procedure in the terms of the present Charter; all the same, this principle bears no prejudice against applying coercion measures foreseen in Chapter VII.”
This disposition ensues from the jus cogens principle: an imperative standard that is imposed on the international community in its entirety.
Any intervention or intrusion in the internal affairs of another State transgresses the jus cogens principle; including intervention labelled as “humanitarian”. Thus, the theory of humanitarian interference (or “humanitude”) has been rapidly invalidated by the doctrine upon the cited grounds.
International practice has shown that even the application by another State’s authorities in order to intervene militarily on another’s national territory is illegal in cases of contested legitimacy (eg. Soviet military intervention in Hungary). In consequence there is no interest in examining the legitimacy of the resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi. The latter, whose election in 2012 within a civil war context is contested, has effectively resigned on 22nd January 2015.
Moreover, in the Cypriot Affair of 1974, it has been established that military intervention by Turkey was illegal. However, Turkey had been motivated by the dispositions of Article 4 of the Guarantee Treaty signed by Cyprus, Greece, Great Britain and Turkey. This Article permits any of the three powers (Greece, Great Britain and Turkey) named as guarantors of Cyprus to intervene when the Cypriot status quo is in peril. Therefore this Treaty has been invalidated because of this principle that violates the jus cogens principle.
The United Nations Charter has treated intervention into a State’s internal affairs. Article 2 Paragraph 7 quoted above refers in this effect to the dispositions of the Charter’s Chapter VII which delimits the intervention procedure in case of “threat to peace, peace break-up and act of aggression”. Only the United Nations Security Council is entitled to authorize coercion measures to bring about the end of a manifestly illicit act that is threatening international security.
This stems from another recognized and decreed principle of the dispositions of the Charter’s Article 2 Paragraph 2, that of the principle of not using force in international relations. The paragraph stipulates: “The Organization’s Members abstain, in their international relations, from having recourse to threat or to the use of force, whether against the territorial integrity or the political independence of any State, or of any other matter incompatible with the goals of the United Nations.”
In consequence, the intervention by Saudi Arabia and the coalition of participating countries in the aggression violates these two principles.
This intervention into Yemen’s internal affairs, characterized by the use of force, excluding any prior authorization by the Security Council as foreseen in the dispositions of the United Nations Charter’s Chapter VII, in the absence of any attack against Saudi territory therefore excluding the self-defence argument (in which case the reprisal should be in proportion to the attack and controlled by the United Nations Security Council as foreseen in the Charter’s Chapter VII) is therefore considered as an aggression in the sense that public international law attributes to this type of intervention (Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of the United nations General Assembly of 14th December 1974, Article 5 of the 1998 Rome Statute by the International Penal Court: the aggression is qualified as “crime” in the light of the latter definitions).
The next speaker was Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, Director of the Department of Public International Law and of Dispute Settlement at the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) and Official Lecturer at the FALCO, who examined The Questions of International Law Raised by the Saudi Invasion of Yemen.
If, in respect to international law, one seeks to pronounce oneself on the legality of the military intervention directed by Saudi Arabia against Yemen, it is of primary importance to qualify the acts by examining the nature of the conflict and the forces involved. It is equally of import to examine the juridical justification invoked by the States participating in this military intervention.
The regional authority known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) approved that several member-States invade Yemen militarily, upon the basis of several arguments invoked in the Common Declaration by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, made on 26th March 2015. Two arguments specifically authorize the armed invasion:
1) the invading coalition invoked self-defence covered by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, but more precisely a particular case of “collective” self-defence (intervention “upon invitation”, or “solicited” intervention) in favour of Yemen and of its legitimate government that had supposedly been “aggressed” and whose territorial integrity remained “threatened”; these arguments were justified by the aggressors, on the basis that on 24th March 2015 President Hadi had formally petitioned for the intervention.
2) there was also the element, invoked in particular by Saudi Arabia, of “preventive legitimate defence” because of direct threats by armed Houthi forces along Saudi frontiers.
I shall attempt to determine the pertinence of each of these two excuses, in the light of rules emanating from the United Nations Charter, from jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice.
Then Mr. Ali Al-Yaqoobi, Lawyer, Research Associate at Auvergne University’s Michel de l’Hospital Centre, felt he should ask the question: Is there any constitutional or other internal Yemeni basis for the petition made by Hadi for Saudi intervention into Yemen?
At the time it became a conflict arena competing for international influence, the most important question remains: Is there any constitutional or legitimate internal Yemeni basis for the petition made by Hadi and that became the argument upon which Saudi Arabia leaned in order to justify its intervention into Yemen?
Hadi was installed as Yemen’s Transition President, by decision of the “Gulf Initiative Council” composed of several countries though not Yemen democratically speaking. Hadi was at that time limited to a 2-year mandate.
However, his “petition for Saudi intervention” was made three years after the start of his 2-year non-extended mandate, indeed Hadi had already resigned and was hotly contested by the majority of the Yemeni populace.
So the question arises: can any citizen require armed foreign intervention into his/her country against the majority of his/her compatriots?
In the light of these three points alone, we can note unequivocally:
1) Hadi’s petition for Saudi intervention was illegitimate
2) Hadi’s petition for Saudi intervention was unconstitutional
3) Hadi’s petition for Saudi intervention into Yemen was non-Yemeni
4) Hadi’s petition for Saudi intervention was not in conformity with any international law
Although these two axes – war crimes, and the humanitarian situation – in Yemen are very important, they have still not been treated sufficiently.
First of all, in what consists the “Saudi military intervention in Yemen”? Well, according to international law precepts, and following on the stipulations of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter: “any and all military intervention must be previously approved by the United Nations Security Council”. This condition has not at all been respected in the case of Yemen.
Sentencing remains one of the most complex problems, because of numerous factors of which the different and differing political positions taken by the “Great Powers”, in particular the United States of America and its hegemonic impact on the Security Council: in fact, all processing of war crimes and crimes against humanity becomes more political than juridical.
In fact, war crimes are function of two facts:
1° the fact of being at war – which is indeed the case in Yemen
2° the fact of committing any of the acts forbidden by modern laws and customs of war – this is very clearly the case in Yemen
and function of three main elements:
A- The material element. Amongst the most important material acts constituting war crime are:
-serious breaches of the Geneva Convention
-intentionally causing great suffering or seriously compromising physical integrity or health
-the destruction and misappropriation of the “enemy’s” belongings
B-The moral element:
-The appreciation of the general intention criterion suffices for crime to exist: general intention is said to exist by knowledge, awareness and intention or will.
C-The international element: for example an armed conflict between two or more States and threatening international peace and security. Yemen has been being bombarded horizontally and vertically: 15 city electricity and gas stations, various petrol stations and food-transporting locomotives, some Institutes, faculties and other teaching establishments – some of these targets were populated, for example the Hodeidah University Medical Faculty in which the bombing killed several dozen students and staff.
Also bombed: vital commercial ports and terminals, civilian airports (including 10 civilian aircraft), 32 civil commercial installations and factories, food reserves, 92 popular markets, 11 media establishments, 55 bridges, some public places, poultry-raising farms, communication towers and centres, sports clubs and youth installations, gardens and parks … all bombed by Saudi air and land craft.
In UNICEF’s last report, the casualty inventory showed 2 288 persons killed of which 279 children, and 9755 injured of which 402 children.
And on our side, at the International Alliance for the Defence of Rights and Liberties, we have warned against pursuit of civilian bomb targets and have demanded an urgent international inquiry considering that the acts perpetrated by Saudi Arabia constitute grave offences against Human Rights, this has reached the level of war crimes and even genocide.
The list of Saudi crimes and aggression is long and varied, and we shall soon manage to publish all of it in a detailed report, because we at the International Alliance are working on collecting traces and compiling files in preparation for the integral crime dossier to be presented before the International Penal Court with the petition to inquiry and pursue the criminals.
According to the UNICEF report
a)over 80% of the Yemeni population are currently afflicted by great shortage of medicine, food, drinking-water and energy
b)over two and a half million persons of which 15 000 children suffer from malnutrition
but we have reason to believe that the damage is far more than that.
There is also a dearth of medical surgery, because of lack of equipment and medicine. Also, 53 dialysis centres have closed down. Many deaths are thus caused.
The United Nations describes the situation in Yemen under embargo, as catastrophic. Various international organizations qualify it as dangerous and tragic, it is therefore urgent to mobilize for return of peace to Yemen.
Baptized “Tempest of Firmness”, the war led by the Arab coalition and piloted by the Saudi Kingdom against Yemen, all decided in concert with the United States, is submitted – as all conflicts in this part of the world – to a confessional reading grid and analysis. In effect, Yemen is divided into a Shiite North of Zaidi obedience, and a Sunni South of Chafeite obedience. Between years 2004 and 2010, the regime of former President Abdallah Saleh led 6 wars against the Houthis accused of trying to establish a Zaidi Imamate and of playing pawn for the Iranians to progress in the country.
Pro-war media propaganda denounces the rise in power and influence of a Safavid Iran with hegemonic ambitions and about whom Mohamad Ali Jafa, Commander of the Guardians of the Revolution, bellows that “Tehran controls 4 Arab capitals: Beirut, Damas, Bagdad et Sanaa!” and concludes: “The question as to who should lead the Moslem community (oumma) need no longer be asked!” Henceforth, Zaidism is part of a conflict that aggravates the split between Sunnis and Shiites, and relegates to the back row all political and geopolitical analyses that issue therefrom.
One question: What is Zaidism?
A ramification of Shiism, Zaidism is a current of thought whose disciples believe they are following Zayd, the True 5th Imam in line from the Prophet Mohamad himself, and the man who has “split the atom of knowledge”, leaving his mark and his way as the bases of what becomes “imamism”, Shiism’s orthodox majority tendency.
Venerated by Shiites for his erudition and great pity, the Sunnis call on him as the Great Master of their Abou Hanifa, founder of the Sunni rites of his own name. And upon ceasing he too all political activity, he advised his brother Zayd not to revolt against the Umayad Caliph Hicham. At that juncture, Zayd had to decide between two challenges:
– unceasing pressure from Ali’s partisans to revolt against a tyrannical dynasty
an elder brother – Mohamad Al Baqir who had already abandoned politics, shrouded himself in imamism theory, was already recognized as an Imam (spiritual guide) and could no longer assume any other activity
Whilst Mohamad Al Baqir as recognized Imam devotes himself to theorization of the cult of secrecy in the Koranic message, Zayd moves into Mutazilism from which he borrows rational methods of argumentation. Defenders of the divine transcendental that nothing can alter, rejecting all pantheism consisting in identifying God to his emanations, the Mutazili also adopted the Theory of the Five Principles: Unicity of God, Divine Justice, Threat and Divine Promise, the Intermediary situation and the order to do well.
Zayd is quite seduced by these theses, and calls upon the right to armed revolt as condition to lay any claim to imamship. Nevertheless, having reached a recognized mastery in religious science, one can already claim imamship. The candidate must declare himself before some believers by launching the da’wa (sacred call) to jihad (holy war) against injustice.
The political theology of Zaidism presents itself as a theology of power that operates a rational incursion into Shiism. Its conception of the wise-warrior Imam decomposes Imamism, imposes itself as rational criticism. It appears as the first schism in Shiism opening the way to reconciliation with Sunnism.
So is one not to see in the Houthi revolt an attempt to rehabilitate the Zaidi spirit? Is it not a theological weapon against Wahhabism? There is the base problem that has been persisting for centuries in Yemen.
Thereupon intervened Mr. Faiçal Jalloul, Lebanese journalist who enriched our interventions with his detailed report on The Al-Houthist Ansarallah Movement: What is Yemen’s political project for the Yemen?
Contrary to expectations, the Houthi program for a State and for Yemeni society has no contact has no monarchical objective, nor Iranian hegemony calling for a Zaidi system. Houthis want their own local, national, regional and international identity, and distinguish themselves in this sense, in every dimension.
For example, at the social level they have replaced Saturday as day of rest, by Thursday, and still keep Friday as Day Off. They have also demanded that public singing volume even at marriages must not disturb, also “decent clothing” must be respected, especially in Sanaa and in the North Zaidi. They have succeeded in imposing prayer, by a “religious police”.
It’s not that probable that these Houthi distinctions disturb Saudi Arabia or the Sunni zones in the South, or even the North of the country. However, their project for State implies massive adhesion to different institutions and engaging directly in the exercise of regional power – but that is straightaway rejected by the Saudi State.
It’s clear that the Ansarallahi aspired to recover the Al-Zaidi influence in Yemen, after having been threatened and marginalized throughout the Republican era – there subsists the proof that Wahhabism has been installed by force in their Saada stronghold, which just pushed several tribes to leave the Zaidi sect for the Wahhabite orthodoxy, thanks to Saudi support and to that of the former Yemeni regime.
The most important part of their economic development plan and of their aspirations to measures of a protest nature and far from being revolutionary, is situated in general in the domain of services and infrastructures – there yet again they are far from the Islamic economy program that their opponents suggest. All they really want is to integrate a market economy with a trend reform close to socialism.
The Houthis insist on reconstruction of their Saada stronghold infrastructure, after long years of isolation and deprivation that today resemble more punishment than anything else…. And on the other hand, they intend to tolerate frontier smuggling with Saudi Arabian counterparts.
The Houthis reject the Yemen province project, they are afraid to be fragmented and isolated on mountain territory and without access to sea.
The Ansarallahi have chosen the democratic system to replace the current regime, one can find all these claims in the peace and partnership agreement they had signed with President Hadi and the Yemen parties shortly after their control of Sanaa in September 2014.
In the field of foreign policy, the Houthis are close to the dissident and resistant axis englobing Syria, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollahi Resistance. In brief, one can say that the Houthi project in Yemen implies a forceful religious return of Yemeni Zaidism to the centre of power, as it was for over a millennium.
The Ansarallahi would love to get their country into a market economy on their own conditions that are closer to socialist democracy coloured by some Zaidi principles – in all that they are closer to the Lebanese Hezbollah than to the Iranian model. That means that this movement’s political project has nothing to do with the Puritan image exploited by their foes in the media.
The last lecturer was Jean-Maxime Corneille, recognized specialist of the Arab World and well-versed in the geopolitical implications of petroleum history, and he did not deceive at all with his eloquently and brilliantly rendered speech on Saudi Arabia, Next Victim of World Upheaval: Towards a Thousand Years’ War for Mecca?
I- Saudi-Iran Rivalry across another war by proxy…
A- Glorification of Useless Conflicts
To understand the Yemen situation beyond the Sunni-Shiite conflict: convergence of two distinct factors (Iran/Saudi Arabia) that confront each other in the framework of the great world war against terrorism (Oxymore), and in a context of defective State. Same two types of artificial extremism: reservist Shiite militia who have inherited the Iranian Revolution, also: the Wahhabi monarchy after recent Palace disturbances.
B- Simplistic vision of the world: perpetual war as goal?
Beyond the illegibility of American alliances, the American “Gun & God” culture only leaves chaotic situations, mythified and that permit endless conflicts that prosper on State demolition: this tradition is British, not American. Rather than Manichaenism, one must talk of encouraged Balkanization: no winners, no losers.
II- Saudi Arabian abandon in Yemen … related sabotage by the United States
A- Alliance overthrow in favour of Iran against the Saudis
Saudi fervour tempered by convergence of Americano-Sino-Russian interests: return of Realpolitik and index of world upheaval, in cooperation with other Sunni States. Notable indices of imminent abandon of Saudi Arabia, which requires that we ask ourselves: Whence cometh Wahhabism?… in fact it’s just a historically British tool to conquer petroleum access.
But one does not yet measure the movement of the scales in an opposite direction, parallel to Iran and America coming closer together: extremists on both sides are going to serve as “fuel” for the Balkanization of the Middle East, and those things can go very far.
A major background element: the new silk route across Eurasia: a new promise open to all countries, an accessible pacific world metamorphosis, and at the same time revenge on the “German model”. The big lesson in all that? Hegemony implies conflict prevention – a lesson that the United-States lost out on….
B- Change in nature of the United-States – Renewal of the Crisis Arc
America uprooted by its own private interests: the ruin of the State created by modern capitalism: a system that generates incompetence, crises and war.
An influence-struggle at the highest level between America’s patriots and grave-diggers: the same who deliberately Balkanize the Middle-East.