Categorized | Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

Yemen Crisis: Destabilizing the Muslim World


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By Sajjad Shaukat

Yemen crisis cannot be seen in isolation, as it has provided the anti-Muslim countries and

lobbies with a golden chance to destabilize the Muslim World.

It is of particular attention that faced with an unending resistance in Iraq and other volatile

Islamic states, the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias. In this

context, a study of a leading think tank Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim

World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force.

The report of the Rand Corporation which was released on December 27, 2004 advocated that

Sunni-Shia sectarian division and Arab-non-Arab ethnic differences should be exploited to

promote the US objectives in the Muslim World.

The report of the Rand Corporation was first implemented in Iraq where American CIA fuelled

sectarian violence. In 2004, major terror-attacks were carried out against the Shias in Karbala

and Baghdad. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis,

targeting each other’s mosques and religious leaders through bomb blasts, suicide attacks etc.

After experiment in Iraq, more deadly pattern of sectarian violence was conducted in Pakistan

which still continues.

As a matter of fact, by acting upon the old formula of ‘divide and rule’, some US-led western

countries including Israel and India leave no stone unturned in creating disunity among the

Muslim countries. In this regard, by availing the international phenomena of terrorism in the

aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, some American and western lobbies have joined the Indo-Israeli

lobbies, and are collectively working in America and other European countries by equating the

“Global War on Terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda with all the Muslims.

Pakistan, being the lonely atomic power in the Islamic World irritates the eyes of the anti-

Muslim entities. If India considers Pakistan as its enemy number one, Israel also takes it and Iran

in the same sense. Recently, Tel Aviv has strongly opposed the nuclear deal between Tehran and

the US. However, all these similarities of interest have brought various western countries—Israel

and India to follow a common secret diplomacy with the tactical support of Washington to target

Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc. in one way or the other.

However, in the backdrop of forced ouster of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Yemen and

seizure of power by armed Houthi (Zaidi) militants led by Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah

Saleh, a joint aerial operation code named “Decisive Storm” is being conducted by Saudi Arabia,

United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan etc. The joint action has

endorsement of Arab League and support of many Muslim and Western countries. It is being

highlighted that Turkey which also considers providing logistical support to the Saudi-led

operation is reluctant to do so. Some of the opinion makers are also suggesting Pakistan to insert

its forces into Yemen.

It is notable that Yemen has an area of 5, 27 829 Square Kms., and a population of 2, 3833 000.

Out of this population about 40% belong to Houthis. Yemen is largely a tribal society with

dwindling natural resources, which has contributed to rise in tribal conflicts from time to time.

In Yemen, no matter if you are rich or poor; you must have guns as part of culture. Therefore,

instead of shopping for food or clothes, customers prefer to buy weapons and arms.

The terrain of Yemen is mountainous with some patches of desert and a strategically important

coastline. The area is generally acknowledged as Afghanistan of Middle East. The country is

facing internal strife since 1926. Undoubtedly, the nature of conflict in Yemen has been socio-

political. While, now it is being presented by the anti-Muslim countries and their media as

sectarian mainly because of the alleged Iranian support to Houthis.

In the 1962 civil war, republican revolution of Yemen was supported by seventy thousand troops

from Egypt. In that conflict, Houthis were secretly supplied weapons by Israel to fight against

the Egyptians. Since then, religio-political movement of the Houthis took a violent shape under

title of Ansarullah (Partisans of God). It has created a space for local, regional and extra-regional

forces to play devilish politics to destabilize the Islamic countries. Most of the Middle East

countries have already been weakened by world powers through economic sanctions, civil strife

and military attacks. The only country which has so far remained stable is Saudi Arabia.

It is mentionable that some anti-Muslim entities are trying to create fissures in Pak-Saudi

friendship since April 10, this year when through a unanimous resolution, Pakistan’s Parliament

urged the government to stay neutral in the Yemen conflict and refrain from getting embroiled in

any military offensive due to its drastic implications in the region. Parliament called upon

“warring factions in Yemen to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue.”

The resolution noted that the war in Yemen “is not sectarian in nature, but has the potential of

turning into a sectarian conflict which will have critical fallout in the region including Pakistan.

It said that in the case of “any violation of Saudi Arabia’s territorial sovereignty and any threat to

Harmain Shareefain (Holy places), Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia.”

Calling for unity among Muslim countries, the resolution urged Pakistan to play a diplomatic

role to end the crisis—also through the UN Security Council and Organization of the Islamic

Conference (OIC) for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen. On the same day, a corps commanders’

meeting presided over by Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif expressed similar thoughts. On

April 13, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also held a high level meeting with civil and

military leaders, and reiterated Islamabad’s similar stand, mentioned in the Parliament’s

resolution. Earlier, in a meeting with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad

Zari, Prime Minister Sharif sated, “Besides the loss of innocent lives, the Yemen crisis can

undermine the unity of Muslim world.”

And, during a joint press conference in Tehran, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and

Iranian counterpart explained on April 8, “We talked about Iraq, Syria, Palestine…had a long

discussion about Yemen and agreed for political solution of the crisis…we both think war and

bloodshed must stop in this area immediately and a complete ceasefire must be established and

the strikes must stop” in Yemen.

Meanwhile, same lobbies which are destabilizing the Muslim World exploited the statement of

the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash who warned

Pakistan of having to pay a heavy price for ambiguous stand—Tehran and Ankara seem to be

more important to Islamabad and than the Arab-Gulf countries—the vague stands of Pakistan

and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security—from Libya to Yemen—is the

responsibility of none, but Arab countries.”

Besides, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz who visited Pakistan

termed the Parliament’s resolution as its Pakistan’s internal matter, elaborating, “Saudi Arabia

has strong ties with Islamabad, and we expect an encouraging response from Pakistan.” While,

Saudi Chief Adviser for Religious Affairs, Dr Abdul Aziz termed the mediation talk about

Yemen crisis a joke.

In fact, Islamabad has always played a key role in unifying the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia is a

brotherly country and people of Pakistan hold them in high esteem. Pakistanis are ready to

scarify their resources for the safety, security and integrity of Saudi Arabia. At the same time,

they do not wish that Riyadh gets weakened in a protracted war having serious consequences.

Pakistan has suffered the cost of such wars in last three decades. Muslim World has also seen the

destruction and weakening of Iran and Iraq through such stratagem of world powers.

Hence, Pakistan’s approach to solve this issue is based on attaining the political objectives

through other than military means. Anyhow, this does not preclude the military support to Saudi

Arabia, if situation demands. But, fact remains that the territorial make up of Yemen and the

groups involved in destabilization would embroil anti-Houthi forces in a prolonged war which

the US-led NATO powers have been experiencing in Afghanistan for 14 years. So, it will

consume the military muscle of the Muslim countries.

Houthi activists and forces of the ex-President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi supported by the

regional and extra-regional powers are exploiting the Yemen war by projecting it as a Sunni-Shia

conflict, whereas the conflict is politically motivated.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has analyzed the Yemen situation realistically and adopted a course of

action best suited to and other Muslim states. Islamabad’s support to Riyadh is unequivocal,

unflinching and traditional. It needs to be cleared that efforts of certain quarters to create a

wedge and discontent in Pakistani society on the issue of sending forces or assisting Saudi

Arabia by projecting the conflict on sectarian lines, are bound to fail.

Nonetheless, taking cognizance of anti-Muslim countries which are manipulating the Yemen

crisis to destabilize the Muslim World, Pakistan and Islamic countries must endeavour for

making serious efforts in engaging the conflicting sides and resolve the situation through

diplomacy and dialogue. Media of the Muslim World should play a mature role in diluting any

divisive impression.

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