Turkish Envoy Warns Against Possible Land Operation

National Yemen

Fazli Corman

National Yemen republish here the Turkish Ambassador exclusive interview which was conducted by the Anadolu Agency on Thursday. The Turkish Ambassador to Yemen Fazli Corman says tough geography, clan system and south-north tension in the country would make any operation difficult. A possible land operation against Houthis by a Saudi-led coalition “may not go as planned,” Turkish Ambassador to Yemen Fazli Corman has warned.

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

He said: “Yemeni people in the southern regions do not want north-Yemeni people’s problems and they have some separatist ambitions as well.

“Add the clan system culture to that. That means, in Yemen, it is not like the normal urbanization we see everyday, it is about which clan you belong to.”

The Turkish envoy also said if a land operation was on the table for as part of a Saudi-led coalition, “they will need to have close links with those tribes.”

‘Many complications’

Corman also said the tribes in Yemen belong to Houthis and some of them follow former president Ali Saleh, who supports Houthi militias.

He said: “These inner-balances in the country may be disrupted and turn into a regional conflict — there are many complications and it would be hard to guess what will happen next.

“Some may not go as planned when it comes to the reality in the area. These people own the land and will be strong.”

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab countries, all of them U.S. allies, to launch airstrikes against Houthi positions under the name of “Operation Decisive Storm” since last Wednesday.

Riyadh said the strikes were in response to calls by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi for military intervention to “save the people from the Houthi militias.

Forced to flee

Fractious Yemen has been in turmoil since last September, when the Houthi militants overran capital Sana’a, from which they have sought to extend their influence to other parts of the country.

Some Gulf countries accuse Shiite Iran of supporting the Houthi insurgency which forced Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee the country.

Riyadh has long advocated a policy of “containment and maintenance” in Yemen, where it has given support to whichever regime is in power in Sana’a to prevent state collapse.

They have formerly supported Zaydis — Yemeni Shias — against Sunni Shafais, while currently feeling threatened by the Houthis, a group of revivalist Zaydi Shias.

Referring to Iranian support for Houthis, Corman said Iranian officials “never hide their joy over Houthi advance in the region.”

“Iran’s organic ties are very limited, we cannot truly confirm them, but their support is undeniable,” Corman added.

‘Fast deal’

He also highlighted an “odd” aviation agreement between Yemen and Iran, saying the implementation of it had been “really fast.”

He said: “Normally, to realize an aviation agreement, it takes at least a half year. This happened so fast, they upgraded the flights to two times a day.

“These were all considered not only an as economic agreement, but also an undercover operation.”

Corman mentioned that the Saudi-led operation “may seem to create a danger of sectarian violence,” however “the truth is nothing like that,” he added.

“There is an understanding that the operation is led by Sunnis against Shia Houthis. This is not right. Yemen needs to avoid that, because that may lead to sectarian violence in the country.”

‘Great hope’

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey supports Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and Ankara “may consider providing logistical support” for the mission.

Corman said Turkey had done its best to avoid the current situation in the country.

“I have great hope about the Yemeni people’s future and Turkey will do what is necessary to support its Yemeni brothers,” Corman said.