March 31, 2015

Who Benefits from the War in Yemen?

Can we consider the events in that country a continuation of a series of suspended Arab revolutions? This was the first “BB”'s (The Evening News) question in the interview with the Vice President of the Independent Analytical Center for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” Yuriy Radkovets

— Without dwelling on the causes, driving forces, national-religious and socio-political/socio-economic features of the military confrontation in Yemen, the events in this country can be regarded as a continuation of the “Arab Spring” of 2010-2012. Especially when viewed through the lens of expanding of the influence of the Houthis' Shiite movement to other Arab states, and the answer to the question of who benefits from it.

Today, it is known that the military wing of the Shiite movement of Houthis “Ansar Allah” is taking quite an active part in subversive and terrorist activity in Libya and even controls a number of settlements there. There is information about the infiltration of the group “Ansar Allah” into Tunisia. Taking into consideration the fact that the vector of expanding of the geography of their influence is focused on Algeria (and that country is unofficially ranked third after Russia and Norway among the countries with the largest natural gas production), Europe and the USA's concern becomes clear. In the same context, we should seek the answer to the question: why now?

What can such a fierce, powerful and, most importantly, joint attack of countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, against the Houthis mean?

— Everything here is also more or less understandable. The matter is, the above-mentioned countries understand: “Ansar Allah” is backed by Iran, and they do not want the situation in the south of the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) to be destabilized and an armed conflict there to go on. That is exactly what Iran wants. Because such circumstances would violent supplies of energy carriers by most of Gulf countries, especially to Europe.

According to the Houthis, an active opposition can drag the region into a wider conflict. How deep are disagreements between Shiites and the rest of the Muslim world? Can we talk about a full-scale war of “all against all”?

— Houthis, and above all, their military leaders (Abd Al-Khalid Al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim), are sly, to put it mildly. The fact is that in 2011, after the start of protests in Yemen against the President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, Houthis took advantage of the political vacuum and spread their influence in the north of the country (around the northern Sa'ada governorate).

At this, they started and are waging an armed struggle against both, the government troops and other groups, namely: the supporters of “Al-Islah”, fighters of the influential in Yemen confederation of Hashed tribes, militants of the Sunni terrorist network “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” and the connected with it group “Ansar al-Sharia”. Recently, the situation in Yemen has deteriorated significantly against the backdrop of the political crisis. In the south, there acts the grouping “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, in the center of the country there are clashes between troops loyal to the President, and the forces that support Houthis.

Today, each of these parties is trying to benefit from the deteriorating of the political situation. In this sense, we can talk about the war of “all against all” that threatens to cover the region. Their role can play the existing disagreements between Shiites and Sunnis (the latest example is Syria). That is why the events in Yemen have attracted the League of Arab States, the countries of the Commonwealth of Countries of the Persian Gulf, and the United Nations' attention.

However, it is possible that Saudi Arabia and some other Middle East countries' interference into the internal conflict in Yemen will provoke its further aggravation. In this case, is possible expansion of the conflict and its transformation into a full-scale civil war in Yemen, with participation of external forces: Saudi Arabia — on the one hand, Iran — on the other, as well as a radical Sunni “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS).

How far can the “ISIS” go in such a conflict? And isn't the role of the “state” in the region (including through the media, regularly showing videos of executions) exaggerated?

— In this regard, the role of the “ISIS” is not exaggerated at all. On the contrary, there is evidence that does not require revalidation and repeated verification, namely: groups of “ISIS” act in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Besides, representatives of the “ISIS” have been seeking a way out to the North Caucasus and Russia, primarily to Ramzan Kadyrov's environment.

According to leading special services, in every Western country there are large underground groups of the “ISIS” whose aim is to destabilize the situation in European countries and to organize a series of attacks, if ordered.

In this sense, the Islamic world can be considered a powder keg.

To what extant does the religious theme dominate in such conflicts? Or is it just a cover for trivial economic interests?

— For most countries in the Middle East and North Africa religious themes in conflicts in most cases, is decisive. That is what distinguishes this region from others. This is especially true about (extremist) movements: the Wahhabis, Sufis, Salafis and others. Although, of course, there are often hidden economic (energy) interests under the sauce of religious themes.

See the original interview: