By: Saadallah Zara'i
According to the latest reports, the fighting that took place on Eid al-Fitr resulted in the deaths of 150 soldiers. This fighting took place after both sides independently expressed a desire to end the fighting. It was reported that Ali Abdullah Salih's government retreated making a law to force the Al-Houthi movement to disarm. It was also reported that Abdul-Malik, the leader of the Al-Houthi movement, accepted the offer. But, the fighting increased.
It is clear that both sides are prepared to put an end to the fighting and diplomatically solve the issue. Yesterday, a French news agency quoting Yemen's defense ministry stated that Saada is now in peace after the Eid al-Fitr fighting. But, it is interesting to figure out why the agreement was broken so easily. Both groups claimed that a third country was behind the recent fighting. The Yemeni government said Iran was that third country while the Al-Houthi movement said Saudi Arabia was the third country. It is clear that Iran has no interest in interfering in this war. Even if they did, Iran does not share a border with Yemen in order to be able to send weapons to them. There is no proof for the government's claim. But, the following points in regards to Saudi Arabian interference in Yemen should be noted:
1. Saudi Arabia has historically controlled three Yemen provinces: Asir, Najran, and Jizan.
2. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the only countries in the Middle East whose borders are not clear. The reason behind this is that Saudi Arabia is always after Yemeni land. This issue has caused wars in the past.
3. Saudi Arabia controls three sensitive islands belonging to Yemen in the Red and Arab seas. A decade ago the Saudi Arabian army took control of one of Yemen's islands and announced that they would keep hold on this island until Yemen gave up another island (ashiq). Saudi Arabia took another Yemeni island called al-Dubmah in the red sea nine years ago. All in all Saudi Arabia currently occupies over 10 Yemeni islands.
4. Saudi Arabia is opposed to unity in Yemen. It always tries to split Yemen into a north and a south. These two parts unified about 20 years ago. Saudi Arabia has a history of paying both sides to fight against each other and of causing disunity in Yemen.
5. During the civil war that took place about 15 years ago, Saudi Arabia sent many of its generals to help the south. Saudi Arabia even rented jets with Russian pilots to aid Salim al-Bayd, the head of south Yemen. Saudi spent two billion dollars on weapons for this war. 200 to 300 thousand Yemenis were killed and injured in this war.
6. Saudi Arabia has presented bills to the United Nations to officially recognize a separated Yemen. Ali Abdullah Salih defended himself by saying: "We want them to stop interfering in our internal affairs. We geographically exist and are a historical nation. Our nation has existed since ancient times; not only 60 years. Nobody can take us off of the geographical map."
There is abundant evidence to show that Saudi Arabia has extended its hands into Yemen on many occasions. They try to control Yemen by using its poverty and division to their advantage.
The Zaidi Shia have always been a barrier for Saudi Arabian control over Yemen. The fighting between two Zaidi groups in Saada - and now in Imran and Harf Safiyan - is very lucrative for Saudi Arabia. This is why the fighting does not benefit the government nor the al-Houthi movement. It would be better for them to lay down their arms or else Yemen will be split again.