It's time to end the bloodshed in Yemen
When we think about the ongoing war in Yemen, we have to think not only about the Houthi rebels but also the Iranians and Hezbollah, who engineered the conflict and have been fuelling if for years.
There are no limits for Iran and Hezbollah in Yemen. Their aim is to create deep ethnic and sectarian divisions not only in this poor country but all over the Arab World. Had the dispute in Yemen been a local affair, without the intervention of Iran and Hezbollah, the war would have ended a long time ago. The Yemeni people are the biggest victims of Tehran's aggression against their country.
The spokesperson for the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki, said this week that the Houthis had fired 430 ballistic missiles and 851 armed drones at Saudi Arabia since the war started in 2015, killing 59 Saudi civilians. "The Houthis do not have the ability to make the decision to be part of the political solution in Yemen," he said. He also presented videos that he said showed Hezbollah military advisers training Houthi fighters.
In an important recent development, a Hezbollah military leader working with the Houthis was killed during a fight in early December with government troops in Marib governance, central Yemen. According to a message posted on Twitter by Yemeni Information Minister Moammer Al-Eyriani, Akram Al-Sayed, a Hezbollah military adviser to the Houthis, died as they attempted to take control of Marib City.
This week Saudi Arabia launched an attack against a Houthi camp outside the capital Sanaa. Officials said it involved aerial bombardment and resulted in the destruction of weapons stores. "The operation in Sanaa was an immediate response to an attempt to transfer weapons from Al-Tashrifat camp in Sanaa," according to an official statement, which added that it "destroyed weapons warehouses."
These critical events have important strategic consequences. Iran and Hezbollah remain the aggressors in Yemen, and the Saudi military action is in self-defence. Saudi Arabia does not want to escalate the strife; it strives to end it. The Houthis have many fighters from Iran and Lebanon, which confirms the direct engagement of Tehran and Hezbollah in the fight.
US President Joe Biden's administration is not standing tough against Iran and if Washington signs a bad nuclear deal with Tehran, most likely the war in Yemen will result in more crimes by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Biden administration has employed much rhetoric about stopping the war in Yemen but has not come through on any of its pledges to end the fighting. The administration's decision to remove the Houthis from Washington's list of designated terrorist groups for sure encouraged the rebels to be more destructive in Yemen. It is time the US Congress heard testimony from eyewitnesses about the atrocities committed by the Houthis.
It is also time for the independent media to publish the secret history of the war in Yemen. This will reveal the complicity of many in the West in failing to confront Iran and force it to cease its Hezbollah-supported assault on the country. There is a need for a strategic assessment of how Hezbollah can continue to manage its armed disruption on many fronts, including Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as Yemen. There must be encouragement for those voices condemning the policies and actions of Hezbollah in these countries.
Saudi Arabia should continue its strategy of pre-emptive strikes in an effort to destroy the Houthi-Hezbollah nexus of terror. A military operation to regain control of Sanaa airport could be devastating to Hezbollah and the Houthis. Such an operation is feasible, logistically and strategically. Iran denies that its government and its ally, Hezbollah, are part of the war in Yemen but they can no longer conceal the evidence. Aid officials should reveal how Hezbollah and the Houthi militias have been confiscating huge shipments of humanitarian aid intended for the innocent, suffering Yemeni people.
Operation Restoring Hope, the second phase of the Saudi-led intervention, was officially requested by Yemen's president. The Biden administration should endorse it, enthusiastically and unhesitatingly. It should also boost the efforts of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen. Unfortunately, during recent important meetings, the American media ignored it totally. Ultimately, the Biden administration must understand that the Houthis, Hezbollah and Iran will lose the war in Yemen. Now is time to take decisive action against them, to prevent the shedding of more blood among the people of Yemen.
Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese
publisher and writer