Sabah Zanganeh, referring to the differences between Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Yemen, noted: “There were others in Yemen’s history who wanted to interfere with the situation in Yemen and deploy troops either directly or with the help of mercenaries from other tribes and countries in a way that will serve their interests.”We also saw this in the behaviour of the Ottomans,” he said. They also deployed forces and tried to use one tribe against another. Ultimately the Ottomans failed to interfere. Then they realized that they had to spend money; they spent some money and the situation in Yemen calmed down. But Yemen never came under the Ottoman rule. Saudi Arabia continued to clash with Yemen during the reign of King Abdul Aziz (father of King Salman) who sent King Faisal to Yemen. He suffered great losses and after tens of thousands of Saudis and Yemenis were killed and other calamities were inflicted, his father, Abdul Aziz, urged him to withdraw and refrain from entering Yemen.
In the later periods, despite disagreement in the traditional Yemeni government led by Imam Hamid al-Din, with the emergence of new Republican currents clashes occurred over the formation of a republic in Yemen. In these encounters, Saudi Arabia sided with Hamid al-Din and dispatched troops, supplies, money and weapons to him. On the other hand, Egypt’s Abdel Nasser also deployed tens of thousands of officers and soldiers in Yemen and sent modern weapons. But again, Saudi Arabia and Egypt suffered many setbacks and the Yemeni people paid the price. Eventually, both Egypt’s Abdel Nasser and the Saudi King Saud al-Faisal agreed to pull out their forces and allow the Yemeni people to determine their own system of government. After that election was held and a republic was formed and Hamid al-Din family migrated to Saudi Arabia.
Sabah Zanganeh added: “Therefore, many of the regional powers at that time experienced intervention in Yemen but to no avail. Prior to that, Britain too entered Yemen in a similar way but failed to achieve anything despite having connections with all the Yemeni tribes. But the only thing London accomplished was to spend money.”
He added: “After Abdel Nasser and Faisal episode it was time for the next governments from King Abdullah to Salman. Again, interventions and confrontations continued. For example, the great tribe of Hashid received financial support from Saudi Arabia, and by giving them large sums of money, they were asked to buy the loyalty of other tribes in defence of Saudi Arabia. Of course, two Yemeni governorates were also at the heart of the controversy and King Fahd practically seized them by bribing Ali Abdullah Saleh. Thus Yemen was deprived of the two governorates of Najran and Jizan but the Yemenis continue to claim ownership of the governorates.
Referring to the prevalence of socialism and communism in Yemen, Zanganeh explained: “In southern Yemen, in Aden and in some other southern governorates, the influence of socialism had spread which led to armed conflicts with northern Yemen. But this issue was almost resolved with the coming to power of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Some concessions were given to the southern Yemenis, such as education, official recruitment and entry into the armed forces, and some other concessions in ports, etc., which helped stop the question of Yemen’s disintegration. A prime minister from southern Yemen is present in the government and the number of parliamentarians from that region has increased.
The analyst said the UAE also felt at the time that it had money and facilities and needed to enter the Arabian Sea or the Gulf of Aden and the ocean. The country was trying to pull its oil pipeline out of Yemen’s large governorate of Hadhramaut with a small population. So it tried to buy the loyalty of the Hadhramaut tribes and take over this part of Yemen and then go for Aden and its surroundings.
He added: “By creating new forces it provided them with training, weapons and money to operate as a proxy of the UAE, but this was tantamount to the disintegration of Yemen, not just parts of the south but from the north. The part that was connected to the UAE was split up to the south, and the northwestern part of Yemen had a different situation, which was not in line with Saudi policy. The general policy of the UAE was to seize the ports and islands of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden and the island of Socotra and some other islands, and this again was contrary to Riyadh’s strategies and expectations and put Saudi Arabia under another restriction.
Zanganeh, referring to the abrogation of the international auction at the port of Jeddah despite winning the race by the UAE and in spite of friendship and fraternity between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, emphasized: “Saudi Arabia is very sensitive to the Red Sea and Aden ports and surroundings overlooking “Bab al-Mandeb”. This is a factor preventing the two countries from harmonizing their policies.
He said that the UAE in a show of power tried to put an end to Mansour Hadi’s dominance over Aden, adding that the UAE had carried out something like a coup by supporting Yemen’s southern separatist group to seize Aden and compel Saudi Arabia and the world to accept the move as something already done. Those bigger than the UAE and Saudi Arabia have not been able to dominate Yemen over the past century and these two (Saudi & UAE) will certainly not be able to do so either.
Yemeni tribes and parties change positions rapidly. They tilt towards the ones who pay more money. They prefer the US dollar to Saudi riyal and UAE dirham to Yemeni riyal. After this process is over, they go back to the previous state of friendship, family relations, citizenship, etc. This situation will continue to persist and any action by the UAE and Saudi Arabia will do nothing but increase these contradictions.
Referring to the need for continued peace and Yemeni-Yemeni talks, Zanganeh expressed optimism about the impact and continuation of internal negotiations in the country, adding: “The Yemeni people still give each other some concessions, despite all the arguments and debates they have. But they will not give concessions to foreign countries even if they are Arabs. The Yemenis are strict on this particular case. We noticed this in the case of Ali Abdullah Saleh. He fought six wars with the Houthis and eventually got united with them. These are vivid examples and are still working. So within Yemen, they can make peace. The world, the neighbours, Europe and the United Nations should only help them and provide them with the means to live a healthy life and facilitate good governance factors to manage themselves.
Commenting on Iran-Europe-Yemen trilateral conference hosted by Tehran in August, Zanganeh said that Europe may not directly feel the terrible effects of the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen or maybe the implications of the conflict have not engulfed Europe as quickly as they should have. Because the largest arms supplies to Saudi Arabia are from the United States. Germany, France and the United Kingdom also sell weapons, but not as much as the US does. Therefore, they want to be part of the Yemeni developments while underlining the safety of business transactions from Bab al Man dab.
He added that France was involved in some oil and gas projects in Yemen and even had some take from its resources but it is not enough to stand up and use force to maintain or enhance its interests. So they are on the sidelines of the regional trend and on the other hand they are under American pressure. So Europe is taking action with these considerations. These three countries, especially France and the UK, which are also members of the UN Security Council, can inform the UNSC about the issues and accelerate the role of facilitating the Yemeni-Yemeni peace process.
Zanganeh emphasized: “With the help of Iran, the pro-peace fronts will be strengthened, and countries that are more likely to go to war and resolve the Yemeni crisis through violence, coercion and aggression will fade away.
“The Tehran conference on Yemen showed that Ansarullah is emerging with more confidence on the international scene and has the power to manage the negotiations and can speak confidently of its success. It is also ready to work with other groups in Yemen,” he said, adding that this is a new move that can be strengthened with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran.