Yemen – sifting the fact from the fiction

The Houthis are not an ethnic race or a tribe. They are people belonging to a theological movement that was started in Saada Governorate of Yemen in 1992, with the name Believing Youth (BY), by the Houthi family. ‘Believing Youth’ preached tolerance and peace and held a broadminded educational and cultural vision. Houthi’s preferable political system is a republic with elections where women can also hold political positions. When the leader Hussein al-Houthi was assassinated by the Yemeni government in 2004, the group took up the name Houthis.

The conflict in Yemen is NOT primarily a Shia-Sunni conflict as the Western media is portraying. To start with, Houthis do not belong to the mainstream Shia sect which believes in the 12 Imams, and which has following in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, India, some Central Asian republics, eastern province of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and in the UAE, among perhaps even other countries. The Houthis on the other hand, belong to a minor sub-sect of the Shia sect that believes in 5 Imams and this sub-sect, Zaydi Shiites, is almost exclusively found in Yemen only, where they have existed for well over a thousand years. Many scholars consider Zaydis to be theologically closer to Sunni Muslims than other Shiites.

The Houthis opposition to the Western and Saudi backed autocrats did not start off as a Shiite movement. In a February 2015 report, Newsweek stated that Houthis are fighting “for things that all Yemenis crave: government accountability, the end to corruption, regular utilities, fair fuel prices, job opportunities for ordinary Yemenis and the end of Western influence.”

Similar analysis was given last year by Silvana Toska, a Middle East researcher, who noted that the Houthis were supported by vast numbers of Yemenis (irrespective of sect) who view them as a real opposition to the elites and which is untainted by corruption. As such what we are seeing in Yemen today is a manifestation of the Arab Spring which started as we know in Tunisia and then spread rapidly to several other Arab countries ruled by despots, mainly backed by the USA.

As Dr. Muhammad M. Awan has written, “Ever since the Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957, Western Coalition has been trying to sow dissent and subversion among the nations of the Middle East to protect its commercial interests. What started as the Plan to Contain Soviet Union turned into protecting the oil fields of Arab Sands for sustaining western economies with cheap oil.

The emphasis shifted towards Iran after the Khomeini Revolution of 1979. Under the Bush Cheney Wolfowitz Doctrine, oil rich Arab regimes were recruited to become permanent cash providers for Western weapon manufacturers and allied industries. Multiple wars were invented for imaginary weapons of mass destruction and countries like Iraq were invaded without fear of any negative consequences. Resulting chaos suits the Coalition interest fine, even though an occasional beheading of an innocent western hostage raises some eyebrows. Shia Sunni split among Muslims has provided outsiders golden opportunities over many past centuries to colonize and occupy Middle East and plunder its resources.

Obama Presidency “initiatives” have brought us today to another regional war. A Saudi led mini-coalition run by the original Western Coalition has started bombing the cities of Yemen, one of the poorest countries of the region. There is no question that Khomeini Revolution reached far beyond the shores of Iran and Iranian influence has increased everywhere in the Middle East but this influence is people to people and is not driven by military force.

Neither the Saudis nor their allies have any moral or religious legitimacy to wage war against Iranian influenced masses of Yemen. Their recruitment of Pakistan military to be part of their fancy coalition is a colossal blunder of Pakistan Government.”

Pakistan should definitely not get involved in this conflict. In fact, if anything, we need to use this opportunity re-evaluate our whole relationship with Saudi Arabia, which today is one of total subservience. Consider the below:

a) WikiLeaks informed us that the then Saudi Ambassador to the US boasted about the Saudi involvement in Pakistani affairs, stating, “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.”

b) WikiLeaks also had diplomats claiming that Saudi donors are the main funders of armed groups like Al-Qaeda, Taliban and LeT. So now the Saudis want the same Pakistani armed forces to come to their help, whose personnel in thousands have been killed by terrorists funded by Saudi money.

c) That more than 2 million Pakistanis are earning a living in Saudi Arabia and their remittances are a main source of foreign exchange is not a justification for joining a conflict which is totally alien for us. In fact this dependence on foreign remittances is a major flaw in economic and financial planning. It is estimated that annually US$ 10 billion goes out of Pakistan illegally in black money, and anything up to US$ 500 billion is stashed abroad by Pakistanis. Any government which is honest and sincere and can put an end to this will not need remittances as a major source of income.

d) When the Yemen broke out, the government’s first statements were about Saudi request for help which the government was considering. No mention of your nationals stuck in Yemen. Only when the electronic media raised hue and cry, the government woke up to doing something about evacuating the Pakistanis. Now it is taking the government forever to evacuate the roughly 2,500 nationals in Yemen. Imagine what will happen if the war was in Saudi Arabia itself (as it could well be sometime in the future, when Saudis themselves rise against the ruling classes) and our government has to evacuate over 2 million Pakistanis!

e) Finally, it is quite obvious that getting active in this conflict will alienate us from Iran for a long, long time. The same Iran where you had parked all your air force planes in your war with India because your own bases were not safe. The same Iran, which in spite of all that the Western propaganda states, has not had any territorial ambitions since the time of King Darius the Great who ruled about 2500 years ago. Can anyone name one country Iran has invaded since then? As compared to the two dozen or more countries the US has invaded since the end of the Second World War, leaving destruction, death and great humane suffering behind.

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