Well, I hope Gaith Abdul-Ahad doesn’t mind but my friend Naji S. Ali-Adeeb posted some excellent comments he made about Yemen. I’m pretty sure Naji called my attention to his remarks due to a story I wrote praising, in part, Dubai. Just a hunch.
Anyway, I’m just going to post Gaith’s comments without further comment and hope he’s OK with this. Thanks in advance, Gaith. And FYI, Naji said you are “always a must-read” and that your remarks, which might be part of a story you wrote but I’m not clear on that, are “impeccably timed and… an essential read.”
And for the record, I am very fond of the Yemeni people and oppose the vile U.S.-sponsored war against the country in alliance with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
So, without further adieu, take it away Gaith:
The Emiratis appear to be the only alliance members with a clear strategy. They are using private armies that they have created, trained and funded in a bid to crush both jihadi militancy and Islamist political parties such as al-Islah. Across the southern coast – where the UAE is allied with the separatist Southern Movement, which is opposed to both the Houthis and the Hadi government – the Emiratis have built a series of military camps and bases, and established what is essentially a parallel state, with its own security services who are not accountable to the Yemeni government.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have revealed the existence of a network of secret prisons operated by the UAE and its proxy forces, who are accused of disappearing and torturing al-Islah members, anti-Houthi fighters from rival factions, and even activists and critics of the Saudi-UAE coalition. Yemeni ministers have taken to referring to the Emiratis as an “occupation force.”
The Saudis’ floundering military strategy has largely involved relentless bombing of civilians. Their blockade of Yemen’s ports has pushed millions of people to the edge of starvation. In the last couple of years they have been reduced to playing the role of a peacemaker between their two allies, the UAE and the government of Yemen.
“We had hoped that the Saudis would intervene to stop the folly of the Emiratis, but they are lost,” a Yemeni commander based in Aden said to me last summer. “The war is not going well for them, and they can’t be bothered with what’s happening in the south, so they have handed that file to the Emiratis.”
What the Emiratis have achieved in Yemen – creating private armies, propping up secessionists in the south and conspiring to destroy the political system, while controlling strategic waterways in the Arabian and Red seas – shows how a small and very ambitious nation projects its power in the region, and the world.