Iran’s coup in Yemen: what does it have to do with Turkey! - İBRAHIM KARAGÜL

Iran’s coup in Yemen: what does it have to do with Turkey!

On the day that President Tayyip Erdoğan embarked on his trip to Africa, an Iranian coup, in every sense, was carried out in Yemen. The Shia Ansarullah Movement (Houthis), which is backed by Iran, took over the presidential palace and critical cities, including the capital.

Erdoğan is set to visit Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. If you carefully look at a map, you will see that Yemen is located just across the countries Erdoğan is scheduled to visit.

What is the reason behind the strife in Yemen; why does Turkey place so much importance on Somalia that lies just across Yemen; and why is a Western joint naval taskforce based in Djibouti? What is the link between the strife in Lebanon and that in Yemen?


We are a society incapable of reading maps. When it comes to geopolitics, we are a country and state, which lags miles behind the Ottomans. Even today it is not fully clear to us why the Ottoman Empire showed extraordinary resistance in Yemen and a few other places despite facing defeat on all fronts.

Upon examination of the analyses and strategic evaluations of the commanders and intelligence personnel of that period, it will become clear how shallow our current approach is, compared to the past. Even the outlook on world affairs of a collapsing state was miles ahead of the outlook present-day Turkey has.

It is an opportune moment for me to say this: The reason we are currently faced with so many domestic and external attacks is because of the emergence of a Turkey, which is seeking to reestablish that vision of old, and, after the lapse of a century, is giving prominence to geopolitical calculations.

Let me get back to the topic…


The Houthis, who for years have been fighting the Yemeni administration and Saudi Arabia, play the same role in Yemen for Iran that Hezbollah plays for it in Lebanon. The Houthis are Shia who comprise one-third of Yemen’s population and are mostly located in the north of the country. They receive direct support from Iran. The latest development means Iran has won a very crucial strategic victory along the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

The Saudi administration, which was busy crushing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and attempting to cripple the Muslim Brotherhood in the entire region, lost out to Iranian influence. From now on it will have to deal with an Iranian outpost just across its border. Furthermore, this development will seriously embolden Saudi Arabia’s Shia population, which resides in the country’s oil-rich eastern regions.

Following this move, the Middle East map for Iran is as follows: Baghdad is under Iran’s control. If the Syrian administration manages to remain on its feet, it will be completely under Iran’s control. This is already the case to such an extent that even Bashar Assad’s army is managed by Iranian commanders. Iran also has the strongest presence in Lebanon via Hezbollah. Whenever Tehran finds itself cornered, it will push Hezbollah into Israel and will deflect any crisis far away from its borders. Like Lebanon, Yemen, too, has now become an Iranian outpost, or to be more precise, a shield for Iran.


While all this was happening, an Israeli attack was carried out on a patrol vehicle in Syria’s Golan region, part of which is occupied by Israel. Gen. Mohammad Daadi, a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was killed. Jihad Mughniyeh -- a commander in Hezbollah whose father was also killed by Israel -- and five other Hezbollah members also lost their lives in the attack. The warning issued to Israel after this attack by Hassan Nasrallah was striking: “Ready your shelters!”

It is odd that the al-Nusra Front broadcast a statement saying that the general in question was killed by them and not Israel. There is no need to even mention that the presence of al-Nusra, just like ISIL, overlaps nicely with Saudi Arabia’s regional calculations. The same applies for Al-Qaeda in Yemen, which is said to have accepted responsibility for the Paris attack… It should not be forgotten that the Houthis accused the Yemeni administration of supporting Al-Qaeda and arming it to attack them.


Hezbollah warned Israel, but Iran attacked from Yemen. Take note of a statement by Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to Ali Khamenei, who said, “I hope that Ansarullah (Houthis) takes on the role in Yemen that Hezbollah has taken on in Lebanon.” It has all become very complex. We are seeing an amazing game of chess being played. There is a possibility of clashes in Lebanon and a new war in Yemen as well.

We are witness to two types of power struggle. Both of them are leaving marks that could even alter the map of the Middle East. One is the power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the other is the international attempt to divvy up regional spoils on the basis of the above-mentioned struggle.

I personally think this is how it has been ever since the Gulf War of 1991. All the occupations and civil wars experienced to date, including the 1991 Gulf War, have basically, at their core, been an Arab-Iranian war. In recent times this incredible tussle has been based along sectarian rather than ethnic lines. The Arab-Iran war has been transformed into a Shia-Sunni war.

How strange that this war is largely being fought by resorting to illegal organizations; and leads to mass slaughter and results in a horrific death toll.


The region in general is also witnessing a type of international power struggle such as Russia’s support for the Damascus administration, or the Russia-Iran strategic partnership. Now think of why Djibouti has been transformed into a joint naval base of Western navies. Also think about why every country is trying to establish an outpost in the vicinity of the Red Sea, which includes the Suez Canal, and accounts for the transit of a large amount of the world’s energy supplies.

Alongside all this, think also of why democracy in Egypt was put on hold, why the Muslim Brotherhood was eliminated, what the link between a coup-instated administration and the energy corridor is, why Israel and Saudi Arabia backed the coup in Egypt, and why a moderate and democratic structure like the Muslim Brotherhood was eliminated throughout the region and structures like ISIL brought to the fore.

For the most part, this war, which has interlinked many issues, is being fought on the basis of authoritarian regimes and organizations. A map is being created in this manner. We can only observe this struggle. As much as Saudi Arabia is blind in regard to this war, Iran is ill-intentioned to the same measure.


So, what do developments in Yemen have to do with Erdoğan’s visit?

Turkey has been providing strong backing to Somalia for years. It is trying to create a presence in the region as part of its state policy. Although humanitarian reasons take prominence, it is a geopolitical step for Turkey. Just like it is trying in all of eastern Africa, Turkey is also trying to establish a foothold along the shores of the Red Sea, at the location where this energy corridor meets the ocean.

Yemen is located right across the place Turkey is trying to establish a foothold. Turkey’s presence in the region should be evaluated in light of Iran’s geopolitical calculations. You can continue to deem as a coincidence the timing of Iran’s coup in Yemen that occurred on the eve of Erdoğan’s visit!

It is because Turkey has started thinking about such things that it was dealt a blow by the West in the form of Gezi and the Dec. 17, 2013 coup attempt; and by the East in the form of terrorism exported to Turkey from Kobane. To the same extent that there is German involvement in Gezi, there is Iranian involvement in the Kobane events. You already know the people behind the Dec. 17 intervention.


Let me add this as a final thought. There might be extraordinary developments along the Yemen and Lebanon fault line in the coming days. The situation in Yemen might not stay confined to a coup, and could be transformed into a war involving countries. An attention-diverting clash might start between Hezbollah and Israel along the Golan-Syria-Lebanon axis as well.

We shall have to wait and see…      


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