Yossi Schwartz, ISL the RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 03.02.2022
In the last few days, we have learned that Israel joined Saudi Arabia and Oman in naval exercises for the first time amid heightened Gulf tensions. That the Zionist war Minister Benny Gantz landed on 2 February 2022, in Manama, Bahrain for an official visit to the Kingdom. No doubt about a military agreement against Iran and the Houthis in Yemen. We also have seen vicious airstrikes by Saudi Arabia on the civilian population.
Yemen is located on the Bab al-Mandab Strait at the southern entrance of the Red Sea. Since the Kingdom’s foundation in 1932, the Saud family (al-Saud) , the ruling family of Saudi Arabia has acted to expand its control over Yemen. In 1934, the first modern war broke out between the two Arabian states. That war ended in the 1934 Treaty of Ta’if that ceded the three provinces of Asir, Najran, and Jizan to the army of Ibn Saud.
In September 1962, the army staged a coup against the Mutawakkilite Imam and set up a republican government. Civil war followed. Egypt backed the republicans with tens of thousands of troops and aircraft. The Russian Stalinists provided airlift for the Egyptian intervention. The Saudis backed the royalists, with help from Jordan and Israel.
South Yemen was a British colony until 1967. The National Liberation Front (NLF) took power over the country following negotiations with the British government in Geneva in 1968. The NLF was a left-wing nationalist insurgent coalition seeking to unite the forces of the Aden petroleum and port workers’ trade unions, Nasserites, and Stalinists led by Abdul Fattah Ismail, a founding member of the NLF and its chief Stalinist ideologue.
In 1969, with support from the Russian Stalinists, Ismail formed the Stalinist regime based on state capitalism in South Yemen. When Stalinist Russia collapsed the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south joined the North.
The Saudi Kingdom relied on Ali Abdallah Salah, president of North Yemen from 1978 and later of a unified Yemen from 1990 until 2012. Saleh was inclined to support Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Saudis believed that Saleh was secretly conspiring with Saddam to restore the territory that the Saudis had won in a war with Yemen in 1934. U.S President George H.W. Bush backed the Saudis. The Saudi government expelled a million Yemenis living and working in Saudi Arabia.
When the Arab revolution began in Yemen in 2011, the Saudis intervened to get rid of Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was replaced by his Vice President Mansur Hadi, from southern Yemen who had trained in Moscow. “When Hadi assumed the presidency in 2012, his only frame of reference for leadership was Saleh, but the new president lacked his predecessor’s tenacity and skills of political maneuvering. Yet Hadi attempted to copy the centralized one-man rule model, with the result that the key weakness of the Yemeni government, lack of accountability, got even worse. During the transitional period (2012-2014) this state of affairs was further exacerbated by elites affiliated with the Islah party – most notably prominent sheik and businessman Hameed al-Ahmar – who used the government as an instrument to further their own commercial and political interests” [i]
“The failure to come to some form of accommodation with the Houthis led the government to unleash a war that it could not control – particularly through the dubious authorization in 2015 to the Saudi-led coalition to wage a destructive military campaign against the Houthis” [ii]
“The Houthis are Zaydi Shiites or Zaydiyyah. Shiite Muslims are the minority community in the Islamic world and Zaydis are a minority of Shiites, significantly different in doctrine and beliefs from the Shiites who dominate in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere (often called Twelvers for their belief in twelve Imams). The Zadiyyah take their name from Zayd bin Ali, the great-grandson of Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, whom all Shiites revere. Zayd bin Ali led an uprising against the Umayyad Empire in 740, the first dynastic empire in Islamic history, which ruled from Damascus. Zayd was martyred in his revolt, and his head is believed to be buried in a shrine to him in Kerak, Jordan. Zaydis believe he was a model of a pure caliph who should have ruled instead of the Umayyads” [iii]
The Zaydis established themselves in north Yemen’s rugged mountains in the 9th century. They are the majority of the population in the mountains of the north. They fought against both the Ottomans and the Wahhabis in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Houthis led by Hussein al Houthi, from whom they are named emerged in the 1990s. They opposed Saleh’s corrupted dictatorship like other Arab dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. They also criticized Saudi and American backing for the dictator. The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 radicalized the Houthi movement. The Houthis adopted the slogan: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, victory for Islam” in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The group also officially called itself Ansar Allah, or supporters of God.
Yemen has been fragmented. The Houthis control the north and some parts of the south. The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) controls the southwest and the Saudi-backed government controls the south and the east.
There are heavy fights in the Marib and Shabwa districts in south Yemen. These are the last districts controlled by the government of Rabbu Mansour Hadi supported by Saudi Arabia. Hadi is hiding in Riyadh.
The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan has encouraged the fighting spirit of the Houthis who are fighting against the Saudi Arabia-led coalition backed by the USA and Britain. They also oppose Israel that has a history of intervening in Yemen.
The fact that they are Islamists is not a reason for working-class revolutionaries not to side with them in the military clashes with the Imperialists and their local servants. The main enemy is always the imperialists and their servants. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has committed war crimes by bombing the civilian population. Yet you do not see the reformists and the centrists supporting the Houthis.
The last time the right-wing centrist organization the IMT wrote an article on Yemen was one year ago and, in that article, there is not one word on the need to side with the Houthis in the military conflict. They wrote: “The war in Yemen is a proxy war for the Saudis, desperately trying to avoid Iranian influence extending to their southern border. The imperialist powers share this interest. Much of the international oil trade passes the coast of Yemen. These powers would much rather have a country bombed to pieces than give Iran significant influence over Yemen. The fact that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided most of the financing and the mercenaries for the conflict only made it a more attractive proposal (as the Western powers didn’t have to get directly involved themselves).
The only problem is that they lost the war. The Houthi militias have held out and are now even threatening Marib, one of the most important hubs for Yemeni oil production. Now they all want out, starting with Biden. The Yemen war has been a political embarrassment for too long. They are looking for a negotiated settlement, but the Houthis would have to be part of such an agreement. This, however, would be a humiliation for the Saudis, and in particular for Mohamed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, and provoke a political crisis in the kingdom” [iv]
Their twin sister the ISA has not written one word on Yemen. The Mandelites’ International Viewpoint last meaningful article on Yemen was in June 2019 dealing with the mobilization of dockworkers in three different ports in France and Italy that prevented attempts to deliver ammunition for Caesar cannons and other types of armaments to Saudi Arabia. [v]
Victory for the Houthis
Down with Saudi Arabia led coalition