Yemen; Battlefield of Biden and Saudi Arabia

2021/02/02 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online-Opinion: Joe Biden will have no choice but to remove Ansarullah from the American list of terrorist groups in order to participate in the peace talks with Saudi Arabia in future. Hassan Hanizadeh-Middle East expert

With Joe Biden’s democratic administration in the White House, one of the issues of the foreign policy of this country which is going to be most probably highlighted is the war in Yemen and issues related to the Ansarollah. In this respect, the Spokesperson of the US State Department has said it is studying to deproscribe the Houthi movement which was enlisted as a terrorist organization by the former administration. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, had recently said that Washington is going to review the proscription of the Ansarollah movement. This is while the Treasury of Donald Trump in the last working day of his presidency designated the Ansarollah movement and three of its leaders as a terrorist organization.

As Joe Biden’s team is adopting a fundamentally different approach than that of Trump’s administration towards the events of the Middle East such as the Saudi war against Yemen, it seems that during the next weeks, the issue of terminating the war in Yemen will be placed on the agenda of the new US president. The recent remarks by Saudi Arabia authorities such as Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Foreign Minister, on the preparedness of this country to end the war in Yemen is an evident message by Riyadh to Biden’s team.

The Saudi Foreign Minister has recently claimed that his country is ready to end the Yemen aggression but that Ansarollah is creating obstacles on the way of creating a sustainable peace between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. On the other hand, the reconciliation between Riyadh and Doha sends an important message by Saudi Arabia to the United States that Riyadh is ready to coordinate its policies with the team of the new president of the United States. Therefore, as Joe Biden is going to re-open numerous cases related to the Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman—including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the war in Yemen and the multi-billion-dollar blackmail of Donald Trump by Saudi prince—the Saudi ruling family is seriously worried about the future of the crown prince and is therefore trying to review its regional policies.

Saudi Arabia is trying to get out of the Yemen quagmire in a face-saving move and without paying heavy political and financial costs; however, it seems that the Joe Biden’s team will inflict more pressures on future on the Saud family. The issue of designating Ansarollah which happened in the last days of the Trump tenure by the demand of Saud family aimed at removing legitimacy of this Yemeni militant movement as Saud Arabia is well aware that if the war in Yemen ends, it should engage in negotiations with Ansarollah.

It is normal that Ansarollah, due to its popularity in Yemen, is trying to collect a series of evidence against the Saudi regime to file a complaint in international courts against Saudi Arabia for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Yemen. For this reason and upon the insistence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Donald Trump designated Ansarollah as a terrorist organization. However, it seems that the Joe Biden’s team will have no alternative but to deproscribe Ansarollah so that it could participate in the future peace talks with Saudi Arabia.

Here, there are definitely hardship and hurdles for the United States on the way of terminating the war in Yemen. For example, Riyadh may not accept Ansarollah call for compensation for the people of Yemen. Even though the Joe Biden administration is preparing heavy files against bin Salman, Riyadh has to give concessions to the government of Yemen and Ansarollah and get shamelessly out of the quagmire in Yemen.

On the sanctions imposed against Ansarollah, as such sanctions have not been adopted in the US Congress, Joe Biden as the new US President can use his legal powers to rescind these sanctions without referring to the US Congress.

However, in response to why efforts by bin Salman and his team to resolve the crisis in Yemen, two issues should be considered. First, Joe Biden is extremely outraged at the policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli regime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to their proximity to Trump. Consequently, Joe Biden is trying to depose bin Salman and Netanyahu from the cycle of power in future so that he could be able to enforce his own policies across the region.

In fact, Democrats in general have problems with the Saud family in Saudi Arabia and are trying to depose the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia from power due to his leading role in creating insecurity in the region and staging a war in Yemen. Democrats are also keen on replacing him with Mohammad bin Nayef, the former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who is presently under house arrest ordered by Mohammad bin Salman.

Moreover, the issue of human rights is being spotlighted by the Democrats and could have an influence on terminating the war in Yemen. In fact, Biden and Democrats consider terminating the bloody war in Yemen as an opportunity for the improvement of the face of the new US government in the international arena.

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