Great Hope, and Greater Risk…


Fakhri al-Arashi

These are more than enough words to describe Yemen’s situation after 25 days of nonstop airstrikes on Yemen. The ongoing bombardment, carried out by a coalition of countries with Saudi Arabia at the helm, has consisted of over 2000 warplane raids on the country. The barrage has left Yemen without power, fuel, water, food, medicine, or transportation. Moreover, it has blocked safe egress for Yemen’s people to other parts of the world.

Even communication with the outside world is at risk: Yemen’s internet and international telephone cables connect to the rest of the world via Saudi and Omani borders, leaving Yemen highly vulnerable to KSA attempts to isolate the country, as it has done with “restricted areas” in Yemeni airspace, sea, and land.

With all these threats, there is still a sliver of hope for Yemen to escape Saudi’s unfair sanctions via the encouraging developments from world nations, individuals, and think tank institutions that have begun to speak out in protest against the crimes of Operation Decisive Storm. Statements from the Chinese president, the Russian president, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations—Ban-Ki Moon’s call for an immediate ceasefire, in particular—are positive signs that the international community may wish to help Yemen end this one-sided war. Another point: the Pakistani and Omani governments, which have preferred to practice diplomatic interference and good mediation. These are positive and much welcomed tactics by the people of Yemen.

The second silver lining is that the Saudi coalition may choose to stop their airstrike war on their own accord after realizing its futility. Airstrikes have been pushing Yemenis toward direct clashes with current allies from Yemeni tribes, and southerners may soon decide the time has come to take on the Houthis and Saleh loyalists on their own territory. This is a very possible outcome, and should the coalition fail to move on the first option, they will never hesitate to use the second option to plunge Yemeni groups into internecine quarrels, the likes of which currently plague Syria.

For now, Saudi Arabia will not be happy if its actions lead to a re-rupturing of the Yemeni state into two countries. At the same time, the Kingdom seems willing to continue financing efforts to keep northern Yemen unstable, as part of its goal to end Houthi and Saleh influence along Saudi borders.

This is why bringing all parties together in a round table discussion is the best method to ease the current tension. A calm, peaceful discussion can prevent bloodshed and enable the countries currently embroiled in this terrible war to rebuild what they have destroyed. No matter the cost, no matter who wins or loses, diplomacy needs a chance; much more of a chance, in any case, than the language of airstrikes and missiles.