Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC
September 15, 2016
Objectives and Impact of the Failing War in Yemen, Blaming America and Honor Killings
CDHR’s Analysis and Commentaries
At What Price Supporting Saudis’ Invasion and Destruction of Yemen?
CDHR Commentary: Motivated to restore US relations with Iran for many reasons, including taking charge of executing American polices in the Arab World directly instead of going through the Saudis, the Obama Administration negotiated a controversial nuclear deal with Iran as a pre-requisite to normalization of US/Iranian relations. Having been accused throughout his Administrations of lacking understanding of and clear direction in the Middle East, President Obama wanted to prove to his domestic critics and staunch opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran that his Administration can initiate and implement pragmatic foreign policies, even when he understands that the outcome is not risk free, but is more desirable than the alternative: war with Iran.
Furthermore, the regional tumult and Iran’s rising influence in the Middle East, prompted the US, its allies and other major powers to reach out to the Iranian theocracy, hypothetically mitigating many of the dangerous threats facing the region and the international community. This shift of global attitude toward Iran shook the foundation of the Saudi autocracy.
Through sheer force and application of a ruthless religious doctrine, the Saudi monarchs created and ruled a compliant society for decades, thus presenting themselves and their high-handedly ruled desert kingdom as a bastion of stability, guardians of Western interests and most fit to mediate conflicts (many of which they create) in the Middle East. For many decades, the Saudi rulers, with unwavering support and protection from Western powers, made sure that their regional competitors were crushed, neutralized or rendered incapable of providing the services the Saudis could deliver. Given this history, the Saudi rulers dreaded losing their regional and global favored position to Iran, reacting with anger and defiance to the proposed nuclear deal. Accordingly, they tried to sabotage the US/Iran nuclear agreement in order to prevent any US/Iran rapprochement.
Saudi opposition to the Iran nuclear deal put President Obama’s Administration in a vulnerable position: either to have the Saudis side with his adamant domestic opponents to the nuclear deal or to yield to the Saudis’ extorting demands to support their catastrophic invasion of Yemen in return for approving the US/Iran agreement. Tragically, the Administration’s determination to conclude an agreement with Iran caused it to overlook the risks and consequences of its endorsement of and provision of material and intelligence support for the Saudis’ invasion of Yemen.
Yemen, with a population of 26 million unruly poverty-stricken tribesmen, occupies a vital trade and strategic security location. It shares rugged long borders with southern Saudi Arabia and Oman, both of which have close ties to the US and its western allies. Yemen sits between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Most importantly, Yemen is located along the narrowest stretch of the Red Sea, known as the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb, through which most of the oil from the Gulf Arab states and Iran is exported to international markets. Yemen is only a short boat ride from Somalia, home to one of the deadliest Wahhabi-inspired terrorist groups, Al-Shabab, which controls most of Somalia and is notoriously known for attacking neighboring African countries and for hijacking ships for ransom. Yemen is also the ancestral homeland of Osama Bin Laden, the founder and financier of Al-Qaeda, which is the most evident beneficiary of the Saudi invasion of Yemen. Prior to the Saudi invasion in March 2015, Yemen was isolated and uninvolved in any of the Shi’a/Sunni conflicts raging in the Arab World.
The Saudi invasion and US support for it will have far-reaching and enduring costly consequences for Yemen, its neighbors and the international community, specifically the US. The costly and unnecessary Saudi invasion of Yemen includes: the pulverization of Yemen’s meager infrastructure and underdeveloped economy; thousands of its citizens, mostly civilians, have been killed, maimed, starved and/or displaced; Yemenis have been turned against each other as they never were before--Sunnis v. Zaidis/Houthis, North v. South and tribe v. tribe. Given the catastrophic destruction of their ancient country, most Yemenis feel they have nothing to lose. Their unbearable domestic conditions created by the war will likely lead millions of Yemenis to intensify violence against each other, to seek revenge against neighboring countries and to join Al-Qaeda and ISIS, which are already gaining swaths of territory and increased membership in Yemen as a result of the Saudi invasion.
Potential regional and global consequences of the Saudi invasion of Yemen include attacks on Saudis’ oil installations and disruptions of shipments through Bab Al-Mandab, which could create economic havoc worldwide.
Finally, despite US, European and Saudi officials’ rhetoric of weakening ISIS and other terrorist groups, one of the major consequences of the Saudi invasion and destruction of Yemen will likely result not in weakening terrorist groups, but in increasing their memberships and expanding their violent activities. It begs the question as to why the Obama Administration endorsed a war whose predictable consequences include amplified terror attacks on the voiceless Saudi people, the US and on other democratic societies.
Saudi Oligarchy: Endangering a Strategic Region and Sacrificing its Large Minority Population
CDHR Commentary: Nestled in the shadows of the mountain chain that demarcates the more than one thousand mile Saudi/Yemeni border, the isolated approximately 6oo thousand Ismailis living in the ancient (3,000 years of thriving Jewish/Christian civilizations before Islam) and agriculturally rich Najran region have become victims of their government’s injudicious invasion of Yemen 18 months ago. Due to Najran’s border-sharing with north Yemen (the Houthi’s region), the Yemenis are intimately familiar with mountain crossings into and from southern Saudi Arabia. This geographic reality and the formidable terrain render the area nearly impossible to defend. Most of the frequent attacks on the Najran region are carried out by individuals and small groups using mostly rocket propelled grenades and other light arms.
While the Yemenis’ intended targets are the Saudi military installations in and around Najran, many of their deadly projectiles miss their targets and inflict death and destruction on civilians. The Saudi war planners must have known and expected that the Yemenis would respond to the destruction of their impoverished country with a vengeance wherever and whenever they could. The planners knew that Najran would be a main target.
Given this reality, it’s safe to assume that the planners of the invasion of Yemen factored heavy shelling of Najran into their strategic calculation, in the hope of achieving two objectives:
To prove to the maltreated Ismailis of Najran that their government will defend them, thus winning the Ismailis’ goodwill and support for a war for which they are paying a heavy price.
To turn the Ismailis against the Yemenis, especially the Houthis with whom they share cultural and tribal ties and the Shi’a offshoot religious orientation.
By creating an environment of enduring hostility between the oppressed people of Najran (due to their religious orientation) and the minority Houthis of Yemen, the Saudi rulers hope to engender a lasting enmity toward Iran, which is supporting the Houthis and whom the Saudis and other Gulf rulers blame for inciting their Shi’a citizens to revolt.
Although strategically useful for the Saudi government’s purposes, the heavy toll the people of Najran pay for their government’s ongoing war in Yemen seldom makes it to national or foreign media. This is partially due to the Saudi government’s censorship of the news and partially due to the Najran region’s geographic and religious isolation. Additionally, most Saudis and other Sunni Muslims consider the Ismailis heretics, who are enemies of the state’s official Wahhabi-based religion, thus not only unworthy of equality or protection, but physically dispensable. This tragic and dangerous attitude is publicly reiterated and reinforced by the Saudi government’s powerbase, the religious establishment.
While the recipients of the Saudi-led and -purchased coalition’s onslaught are the poverty stricken Yemenis, Saudi citizens, specifically the Ismailis of Najran, are paying a heavy price in human and material terms. The Saudis’ objective in amassing the deadly Arab military coalition is not only to dissuade the Yemenis from allying themselves with Iran, as they claim, but to create lasting instability in Yemen, which the Saudis could use to justify their intended occupation of the oil rich and strategic regions of southern Yemen, e.g., Marib and the Bab Al-Mandab waterway.
This strategy is a trademark of external and internal Saudi/Wahhabi survival skills. Description of the Saudis as “Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters” is quite apt. They create hostile and destabilizing situations that they can use to keep their potential enemies or presumed friends mired in internal conflicts, as exemplified by the current struggles in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. Subsequently, they maneuver to make themselves indispensable to solving the crisis they created. Domestically, the Saudi rulers use the same tactics to suppress their citizens in the name of stability and security. This is a tactic that pays dividends internally, as many Saudis credit their ruthless regime for preventing domestic turmoil like that occurring in many parts of the Arab World.
Similar tactics, using the threat of extremism and terrorism, are being directed at the West. The question is, how long can the Saudi regime continue to use these deadly, destabilising and blackmailing tactics before they are dealt a crippling blow in response to their lethal doctrine and military adventures?
Don’t Blame America for Muslim’s Indoctrination
CDHR Commentary: The only people that poisoned Muslim minds and turned them against each other and against non-Muslims are the theocratic and autocratic Muslim governments, their severely censored mainstream media, their zealot clerics and their pre-modern institutions. Muslims, from cradle to grave, are trained into rejecting and spitting on the American democratic values, lifestyle, dress code, foods and into trampling on women's, religious minorities' and non-Muslims' rights.
It does not make any difference what America does, most Muslims will continue to accuse it of every social, political and economic ills that have plagued their societies long before America existed.
The story teller of this exaggerated piece ought to be promoting American empowering democratic values when she visits and dines with absolute Muslim dictators so that the 1.5 billion disenfranchised Muslims can decide for themselves and be the authors of their destiny.
Honor Killings: Murdering Muslim Women Continues
CDHR Commentary: Murdering women for sex before and/or out of marriage continues in all Muslim and Arab lands. In this case, this aspiring 28 year old British citizen was lured to visit her family in Pakistan, then was tortured, raped and suffocated by her family for leaving one brand of Islam (Sunni) and embracing another (Shi'a.)
Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus do not get their heads detached from their bodies for condemning and leaving their beliefs or indulging in human and social activities they desire.
Murdering and marginalizing Muslim women for choosing the lifestyle that suits their social, economic, religious, political and natural needs and desires is an issue that women, regardless of race, status, religion or ethnicity ought to highlight, condemn and pressure their governments and businesses to impose sanctions against and declare countries that continue to employee this savage practice (honor killings) global pariahs.
Women continue to suffer (some more than others) from lack of job opportunities and economic disparity. Improving women’s conditions in any part of the world benefits all women worldwide.
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