‘Arabs Should Have Exit Strategy from Yemen’

  • 31 March 2015

The 10-country Arab-Sunni front should have an exit strategy from Yemen that is based on protection of the Yemeni people and bringing the Al Houthis back to the negotiating table, Professor Abdullah Al Shayji, Chairman of the Political Science Department, Kuwait University, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the ECSSR conference.

“The efforts to create a military alliance along Gulf, Arab, and Islamic lines took everyone by surprise — especially Iran, the Al Houthis, and Ali Abdullah Saleh, and perhaps even the US, Nato, and Israel — with its varied constituency which includes countries spanning from Pakistan to Morocco,” Dr Al Shayji said.

“GCC countries are using their plentiful soft power in conjunction with their military strength, making it the most effective Arab alliance,” he said.

Dr Al Shayji said the Storm of Resolve aims to protect legitimacy in Yemen, curtail the advance of the Al Houthis, and bring them to the negotiating table with a weaker hand than the other parties, as they represent only 10 per cent of the Yemeni people.

He added the strategic aim of Storm of Resolve is to break the Iranian siege on the Gulf countries. It is worth noting that 90 per cent of military forces participating in Storm of Resolve are either Saudi-supplied or supplied by Gulf countries.”

“The US was taken by surprise by two things: first, Saudi Arabia’s ability to form a solid alliance to carry out Storm of Resolve and, second, the launching of coordinated airstrikes without resorting to aid from superpower nations, specifically the United States, which led to most Arab countries supporting the initiative — as admitted by the Arab League secretary general — despite the vitriolic reaction of Iran and its allies.”

Dr Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based analyst of regional geo-political affairs, said the united Sunni front is sending a strong message to Tehran that the Islamic Republic’s behaviour is on notice: that shady actions that harm Sunni Arab will no longer be tolerated. The very fact that the ongoing joint Arab action is occurring on the eve of an umbrella agreement on the nuclear file puts Iran in a box to expose Tehran’s negative behaviour. Consequently, in the Levant, Iran and its proxies need to stick to their mission to fight Daesh.

From the GCC point of view, a nuclear agreement means that the Sunni Arab states will take security measures into their own hands as they are demonstrating with Storm of Resolve.

Dr Karasik added the establishment of a joint Arab force along with the lessons learned from the Storm of Resolve serve as a building block for future operations in the Levant to force out Iranian influence especially when soft power efforts become ineffective.

“An important point here is the role of Jordan as the main pivot in the future. The Hashemite Kingdom is the northern flank that is responsible for the Levant. In terms of the Shiites and the Alawites, Amman is coordinating with Damascus and clergy from Najaf and Karbala about Iran’s influence and how to potentially disengage,” Dr Karasik said.