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Publish Date : Tuesday 20 September 2011 - 11:43
'US, KSA making things worse in Yemen'
Interview with Eugene Dabbous, professor at Notre Dame University
Islam Times - Violence has flared up in Yemen as regime forces of the Saudi-backed government, including snipers, have killed dozens of people in the capital Sana'a.
A Yemeni opposition group says tanks and other armored vehicles have entered the country from Saudi Arabia in an attempt to intensify the crackdown.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Eugene Dabbous, a professor at Notre Dame University in Beirut, to shed light on the role of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni regime's crackdown on its people.

The video offers the opinions of one additional guest, Ali Mastari, who is a Middle East expert. What follows is the text of the interview:

Press TV: I'd like to get your reaction to Saudi Arabia sending tanks, armored vehicles and, based on reports, weapons into Yemen, just like it did to Bahrain.

Dabbous: Well, obviously it is an attempt to replicate the situation in Yemen, the way they had their way in Bahrain, is not going to work. I mean the size of the countries, the complexity of the countries is much different. I think it is an act of desperation.

They had hoped they could direct the situation from far and obviously this is not working. So when this kind of aggression takes place, it is a sign that things are not working for them.

Press TV: You say an act of desperation, what kind of consequences could this act of desperation bring, not only internally within Yemen but perhaps broadly in terms of the region?

Dabbous: Well, most people would agree that the major cause for Saudi intervention in Bahrain was the fear of a spillover effect into Saudi Arabia itself. Obviously, this is going to be much worse if things do not go the way that Saudi Arabia would like them in Yemen.

So Yemen is posing the much larger threat to stability as it is right now and if Saudi Arabia starts to loosen up the way it has happened in the rest of the Arab world and the central government starts losing their control of certain parts of the population in certain regions of the country, then not only are the Saudi interests threatened but also ultimately the interests of the United States and Israel.

Press TV: Why has Saudi Arabia decided at this point to do this?

Dabbous: Well, because things are not going their way. The Arab spring is, as we know, still the jury is out in the hall and it is going to end in Tunisia or Egypt but obviously the destabilization of Israel's position; the strong backing in Egypt is now gone; things are becoming more precarious in Jordan and if Saudi Arabia starts being threatened externally and internally, the US and Israel are going to have a lot of separate crisis areas to deal with simultaneously.

Press TV: It appears there is an assault on three fronts. You look at what is happening within the Republican Guards, the Yemeni government, looking at Saudi Arabia sending them troops and we have noticed an increased activity of drone attacks as the CIA has reported the creation of a base in Yemen.

So what does that show in terms of all these three things culminating at one point together in terms of the revolution there?

Dabbous: Well, I think the important point that was made is that we are dealing now with regional powers.

There are four regional powers that are starting to threaten the US hegemony in the region. One of them obviously, as we have seen, is Turkey, Iran obviously, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and if Saudi Arabia wants to play the role of a constructive regional power, it is going to have to engage with the populations in neighboring states which is apparently not willing to do. The United States is making a big mistake.

Press TV: You have talked about the constructive role by Saudi Arabia whose king Abdullah just met today Saleh after Saleh was there for months saying that we are behind you and give you support while there has been a slaughter going on for the past 48 hours and more.

Dabbous: Well, that is the point. Saudi Arabia currently is not playing a constructive role but if it wants to play a similar role to that being played by Iran and Turkey which would be to engage with their neighbors to try to find a solution where all parts of the population can live with, it is not only going to have to change this approach to countries like Bahrain and Yemen but it is also going to have repercussions internally within Saudi Arabia and that is what I think the US and Saudi Arabia are afraid of because that is a new game plan and we do not know how that is going to end.

Press TV: What kind of reaction should Saudi Arabia have if it is coming into another country's soil and for there to be negative repercussions from it?

Dabbous: Well, you cannot be a country of the size both militarily and economically and of course religiously and culturally of Saudi Arabia and not interfere within your neighboring states. That is just the nature of the beast. Countries' medium sized powers, as I said, like Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have that role to play.

Press TV: Yes, but doesn't it ultimately end up with the people being suppressed which is why this Arab spring has come about, people wanting their rights? Isn't Saudi Arabia going against it?

Dabbous: Saudi Arabia is not playing a role that is sustainable. They are trying to suppress on the one hand and then they are encouraging radical Sunni Muslim groups on the other. So they are looking for stability as far as their own country is concerned but destabilizing many countries in the region.

There are highly unfriendly factors at the moment and I think the US has to decide now. Do they want to work with Saudi Arabia in a way that we will make it a more constructive player because it has to. A country of that size cannot ignore what is happening in its neighboring states just as Iran or Turkey would not.

So that is not the point that Saudi Arabia gets involved in neighboring states, itq is what kind of a role it plays.

Press TV: When we talk about northern Yemen, we also have to mention the Houthi. The Houthi fighters have been very successful not only defeating the government, we remember last year the resistance that they had against Saudi Arabia who actually had their fighter jets come in. Are the Houthi going to be pulled into this conflict because of the Saudi presence?

Dabbous: Well, obviously they are already a part of the mix and they won't be pulled in. They are already in.

Press TV: But that is militarily. They started in terms of engaging militarily; in terms of fighting. Was it just protests that they are part of?

Dabbous: Well, I do not have the intelligence to be able to answer that question. I am not into that information but I think that they will play an important role in the post revolutionary phase and if you look at the difficulties that people are having in Tunisia and Egypt in dealing with the post revolutionary phase, what is happening now is that the US and Saudi Arabia are making things worse in Yemen.

Yemen is not as bad off at the moment as is Libya but if they keep that [going] it is going to be worse.
Story Code: 100073