To sow in Yemen and reap in Jerusalem

The Middle East’s most important agenda is U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewing support for the attempt to make Jerusalem Israel’s capital. What’s more critical is the provocation to do this on the 100th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire losing control over Jerusalem. Of course this intention and the statements are not new. Everybody knows that this is what the Zionists have been aiming to achieve since 1917. The Muslim world is also a mere spectator in this development. Jerusalem is not only a part of the Palestine-Israel issue. It should be known by all that if Jerusalem falls, the world will fall too. If Muslims are unable to protect Jerusalem from these Evangelist-Zionist projects, sincere Christians will also certainly become involved. Let us leave this hot topic for the next article and remind you that what they are trying to reap in Jerusalem was sown in Yemen. Because the intention behind recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city at a time that Arab countries are focused on Yemen is to create the war anticipated by the messianic mindset.

 What’s left of happy Yemen?

Yemen, which has a strategic position at the junction point of the African and Asian continents, used to be called, as a result of the advantages of the cohesion between ethnic cultures along its trade route, adding a rich culture to the country, “Yemen el Said,” meaning happy Yemen. Yemen, which overcame numerous obstacles throughout history, but mostly enjoyed great experiences, has always been able to continue its existence as a self-sufficient region.

The resilience and patience offered by the region had allowed it to receive the false “Arab Spring” that started in 2011 through peaceful means. The civil disorder that erupted against Yemen’s authoritarian modernist or dictator, then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had carried on in a way worthy of the Nobel Prize. However, Yemen was unable to reach a national consensus and encountered both civil war and, eventually, foreign intervention.

The killing of former President Saleh following the calls to stop the unjust war ongoing since 2015 and pave the way to dialogue has dragged Yemen and the region into a new chaos.

Saleh was involved in every process, every local and international deal in Yemen since 1978. Despite being sidelined with the Arab Spring, he was able to continue his influence by relying on his tribe and supporters. He formed an alliance with the Houthis, which he opposed in the past, and caused the extension of the resistance against the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and, according to another view, the continued influence of Iran in the region. However, his murder on the day after he made a call for peace is no coincidence, but striking. Even though some said in reference to his death that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” this is a completely invalid idea. Because Saleh was the sole person who could make a deal with the clashing sides in Yemen and all countries of the coalition.

Yemen bleeding since the Ottoman era

Following the Ottoman Empire’s withdrawal from Yemen, the Zaydis’ leader, Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din, gained authority over the entire country – with the exception of South Yemen. This experience demonstrated that the Sunnis and Zaydis can co-exist without the control of an outside force. However, after Imam Yahya’s assassination in 1948, Yemen was once more open to foreign interventions. The declaration of the Republic of Yemen in 1962 and the founding of the Yemen Arab Republic in South Yemen in 1962 were not enough to end the interventions.

During the Cold War years, Yemen was also heavily subjected to the competition between the U.S. and Soviet Union. This competition further deepened the problems between the two parts of Yemen and led to new regional problems.

Through reunification in the 1990s, Yemen started to form a new center of gravity in regional balances. This was welcomed by neither the regional powers nor the global powers. It all happened after this. While al-Qaeda settled in Yemen’s inaccessible areas, the Houthis, which control a small area in the north, took action – or were instructed to take action – leading to the grounds of the current war. Just as Saudi Arabia, leading the war that started in 2015 with the encouragement of arms traders that wanted to test their new weapon technologies, made no progress, it caused a major humanitarian plight in Yemen. Losing great prestige, Saudi Arabia, whose economy was also shaken, has been wanting to end the war since last August despite objections by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the most persistent force behind the coalition. Yet, it wanted this demand to come from Yemen.

Who killed Ali Abdullah Saleh?

A day before he was killed, Saleh announced to the sides that he wanted to end the coalition with the Houthis and stop the war. It is likely that the Saudis were in support of this and Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who lives mostly in Riyadh, knew about this.

Was such an attempt possible?

Saleh making this announcement a couple of days ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit shows that he wanted this to be discussed and that he had hope. But he was killed, leading to the failure of this attempt.

 So, who won? My readers know I do not like to discuss conspiracies, but I do like to ask questions:

The Houthis say they did not start the war, therefore, we can assume they will not stop the war. Hence, they were not happy about this attempt. However, they needed Saleh, who was an important actor in the transition phase, alive rather than dead.

Iran is the ghost in this war. It supports the Houthis, but it would not be right to assume they are as involved as it is claimed. Iran, rather than ending wars, likes ongoing wars that give the sense that it is involved in it. Hence, this war coming to an end, with all attention turning directly to itself, will not serve its purpose. Meanwhile, if we assume that Saudi Arabia sincerely wants the war to end and that it will bring the topic up in the GCC summit, does this mean there is another country behind Saleh’s assassination in the region that has bitten off more than it can chew?

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