More than four years have passed since the beginning of the Yemen war led by Saudi Arabia: A war whose initiators would never think it would take such a long time. While Saudi allies, for whatever reason, laid down their weapons, the media outlets in Saudi Arabia disclosed the intentions of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to communicate with Yemeni tribal leaders so that they would find a way for Ansarullah’s consent to reach an understanding on the end of the war.
Mojtaba Amani, the former head of Iran’s Interest Section in Egypt, said in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that the Saudis repeatedly raised issues as the pivot of proposed agreements with Yemen’s Ansarullah and the Houthis and it seems these pivots compared with their initial requests at the beginning of the war have changed.
He explained: “The suggestions made by the Saudis indicate that they have left the military field in the war more to Ansarullah. In the beginning, they wanted to push Ansarullah back to their original point of deployment in Saada Province, but now they have abandoned these demands after failure to impose their demands. An agreement with Ansarullah is still being pursued by the Saudis in general, and they are talking about Ansarullah’s withdrawal from their missile bases on the southern borders of Saudi Arabia due to the collapse of the military balance in favour of Ansarullah.
Evident Withdrawal of Saudis
The former diplomat continued: “The new military achievements and hardware gained by Ansarullah during the years of the war have completely changed the military balance to achieve the initial objectives of the Saudis behind attacking Yemen. If the Saudis initiated the war intending to end the military presence of Ansarullah in the most important provinces of Yemen, their military demands today are limited to protecting the lands of Saudi Arabia against attacks of Ansarullah. They also speak of a halt to Ansarullah attacks on Saudi lands as a condition to end the war which is a clear retreat for the Saudis.
Referring to the decision of the Emirates to pull back troops from Yemen, he said: “The Saudi attack on Yemen was almost similar to Saddam’s invasion of Iran. At that time, Saddam Hussein had concluded out of some illusion and, of course, based on mathematical calculations related to the war, that he would achieve a quick victory against Iran, and the war would end in Iraq’s favour quickly with military and strategic achievement. The Saudis also thought that Yemen was very weak and would be defeated against a Saudi strike that was more based on the strength of its fighter planes; but now that the Emirates has pulled out as the last survivor of the vast military coalition the Saudis publicized extensively at the outset, the Saudis intend to manage the war by relying on mercenaries.
Saudi Impasse in Yemen
Amani said that the Saudi military option in Yemen seems to have stalled, adding: “In any case, the Saudis are looking for a safe and decent way out of the swamp they are stuck in Yemen, and they feel that the Emiratis also has left them alone.
The former head of the Iranian Interest Section in Egypt said: “Over nearly two decades, the Saudis have been explicitly seeking to increase their influence in the region or, more precisely, have been trying to prevent their influence decline in the region. The Saudis want to prevent further decline of their influence in the region or an increase in Iran’s influence and power in the region: A process that began after the fall of Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Explaining that what is a source of concern for the Saudis is the regional influence of Iran, Amani said this influence which had already displayed itself in Lebanon and Syria reached Iraq this time. Meanwhile, the efforts of the Saudis and their allies, especially during the last eight years, have failed to overthrow the ruling establishment in Syria. The Saudis felt dissatisfied with Iran’s influence on the southern frontiers and, in a false assessment, imagined that they could occupy Yemen, complete securing their interests in the Red Sea, and, by seizing Bab el Mandeb International Waterway, could create a tool to exercise their regional influence.
Amani added: “Of course, the Saudis were able to win some specific victory in the region; that is they were able to somehow control the trend of Arab revolutions that began in 2010; they were able to control the situation in Bahrain; in Egypt, with their influence, the previous regime and institutions were reinstated; they also saved Sudan “out of Iran’s sphere of influence” as they described it; And it was following these victories that the Saudis decided to make military intervention in Yemen as well.
Referring to Saudi efforts to control Yemeni sovereignty, the former Iranian diplomat pointed out that they were trying to attract the attention of some tribal leaders and influential people in Yemen in order to install their favourite government in Yemen, and then take military action to get rid of the disturbances of the influential Ansarullah group which had somehow taken control of Yemen.
He continued: “The Saudis thought that they would achieve a very quick victory in Yemen. For this reason, they focused on the military option and tried to achieve their goals through military force the most important of which was the elimination of Ansarullah and the containment of this group, because they considered Ansarullah a tool in the hands of Iran in Yemen.
Amani said that the military strike on Yemen was initially shaped by a political manoeuvre under the title of the coalition. Pointing to the withdrawal of the countries several months following the coalition, he said: “The scheme was a failed one from the very beginning. Many countries withdrew from the coalition or did not take effective military action in favour of the Saudis. Eventually, after these countries refused to take any joint military action and left the military coalition, this military alliance was limited to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Iran’s 4-Point Plan to Resolve Yemen Crisis
Commenting on Iran’s four-point plan to solve the Yemen crisis, Amani said: “The plan, which includes a ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, internal Yemeni dialogue and an all-inclusive government, is a complete plan that was presented at the very beginning of the war by Iran and has very strong principles. The plan could be considered at the talks between representatives of Ansarullah and the Saudis. If this plan is accepted given Ansarullah’s friendly relationship with Iran, Tehran can play a significant role in this respect.
Amani added: “However, the Saudis, as they know that accepting this plan means defeat in achieving their goals in Yemen, will refuse to accept the plan or other plans. The passage of time seems to have had no achievements for the Saudis in Yemen so that at least after several years it will be possible to change some of the paragraphs of the plan in their favour. The Saudis are now forced to re-evaluate and accept the plan given the current situation because there is no other plan or at least something acceptable by the public opinion and the international community.