On 29th March 2015, the Arab League voted to back the Saudi Arabian sponsored ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, to counter the Houthi led attack to usurp power and remove President Hadi from office.
Its no secret that the Houthi militia is, and has been, backed financially and militarily by Iran, maneuvering for its geopolitical interests.
It is also no secret that the Saud dynasty finds any instability close to its borders worrisome for itsdictatorial monarchy. It is worth noting that AQAP and ISIS both have a strong presence in Yemen (primarily the scarcely populated South). A power vacuum, which may allow one of these entities to secure a foothold within Yemen, may provide the launchpad for incursions into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s well-publicised geopolitical tussle with Iran is further fuel for Saudi aggression. Having anIranian satellite state on its Southern border would unnerve King Salman and the royal family.
The entire depth of this discussion is probably beyond the scope of a short article of this size. Within internalYemenese politics, the hypocritical tactics of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Mu’tamir party, in rotating allegiance between the Islah (Yemen’s manifestation of Ikhwan) and the Houthis (the remnants of the former Baathist/Socialist parties, which collapsed with the destruction of Soviet empire), has contributed greatly to creating the chaotic turmoil Yemen finds itself in.
The irony of the situation is that Saudi Arabia, hadpublicly disowned and banned Ikhwan and, in so doing,made firm enemies out of Islah. In the ideal scenario, they would like to keep Ali Saleh in power, to control the threat of Islah (or ISIS and AQAP) gaining too much traction on their very borders. However, Saleh’s allegiance with Houthis means he is in cahoots with an Iranian agent militia. Yemen is currently a nightmarishly unfriendly environ for the Saudi monarchy.
Further, there is no doubt a, albeit small, sectarian aspect to both Saudi and Iran’s involvement in Yemen (as there is whenever they meddle in the political affairs of other Muslims). They both seem to advance this sectarian rhetoric on a variety of platforms, with Imam-e-Ka’baurging the Muslims to enjoin Jihad against the Houthis, acting as a mouthpiece of the Saudi monarchy. Iran is no less complicit in this sectarian narrative, with its support of Bashar Al Assad’s murderous regime, as well involvement in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and beyond. The pronouncements of ‘we control four capitals in the Middle East’ from Iranian pulpits are further evidence of this.
Whilst all of these factors contribute to the complexity of the situation, the ‘real’ reasoning is not encapsulated by an analysis of them. Let us look at said ‘real’ motive behind the involvement of both Iran and Saudi Arabia within the peninsula (Saudi Arabia represents the Arab League for ease of discourse, being the de facto leader of the pack).
The geopolitical interest of Ale-Saud is in maintaining their grip on the throne, at any cost. To do this, they must protect their economic interests, as without the abundance of the stolen wealth of the ummah they spend so carelessly, they couldn’t tame the masses within the country. In the absence of said wealth, they would also lose the patronage of their masters in the USA and the political West.
It is within this context that we must assess Saudi Arabia’s adventure into Yemen. There are two major oil-shipping gateways within the world. Of these, the Strait of Hormuz is controlled by Iran. The second one lies at Bab-al-Mandeb, just off the Southwestern coast ofYemen. The Houthis’ ascension to power within Yemen would place this vital gateway under the direct influence of Iran. Such an occurrence would put the Saud dynasty’s economic and political survival in extreme jeopardy. This is the eventuality Saudi Arabia must avoid at all costs. Any pretense of a grandiose ‘Jihad’ against Iranian sponsored Shia militias is a lie of epic proportions, attempting to fuel an emotionally sympathetic response by manipulating the sectarian divide between Muslims.
Against this entire backdrop, I delve into assessingPakistan’s response to the situation, pledging its verbal and physical support for ‘our brothers’ in Saudi Arabia. The Defence Minister, Khawaja Asif, conceded that there were Pakistani army personnel, totaling one thousand in number, within Saudi Arabia. Pakistan has openly spoken of its willingness to commit more troops to assist Saudi Arabia in this endeavor.
Let us decipher the narrative of ‘our brothers’, vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia. Why are they our brethren? By the sheer fact that they are Muslim? Let us test that hypothesis.
What happened to our Muslim brothers in Syria, being butchered by Assad (lately ISIS have joined in this demonic spree of murder)?
Where was the Pakistani army when Palestine was being bombed by Israel during Ramadan last year? What assistance has Pakistan provided to ending the occupation of Al-Quds?
Did the Pakistani media and politicians miss the brutaltyranny unleashed on the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, a country that couldn’t withstand 24 hours of an army assault by Pakistan?
Are the Muslims of Central African Republic not ‘our brothers’? Why are we deaf to their plight, suffering rape, pillage and murder for their deen?
Where was the propagation of ‘Jihad’ by the Imam of Al-Haram when all of these Muslims were (and continue to be) massacred?
Why has Pakistan stopped supporting and curtailed the activities of all mujahideen in occupied Jammu and Kashmir?
This is a ‘brotherhood’ built upon personal interest/favour and foreign policy dictations. Nawaz Sharif spent a decade in exile as the guest of Ale-Saud. It is not his sons that are going to be sent to the frontline to face gunfire. He owes this personal favour to his Saudi patrons. However, the greatest common denominator between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is the parentage of both political leaderships with the United States. In that sense they most certainly are brothers. The reason Pakistan is so willing to join a coalition to attack Yemen is that US foreign policy has openly promoted and called for this move.
It is a starkly depressing situation, where the airstrikes have hit at least two refugee camps thus far and been responsible for scores of civilian causalities. The fighter jets and missiles, which become defunct museum dummies when Muslims are being killed across the world, are suddenly functional death machines when their intended targets are Muslims. To join in the murder of Muslims, to maintain Saudi’s hegemonic economic interests in the area, is an unforgivable crime. To try to paint this as a sectarian issue, rather than a geopolitical cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a dishonest distortion of reality. Iran and Saudi Arabia are both leading the Muslims on a disastrous path of division, disunity and continuing strife.
Pakistan’s (or any other Muslim nation’s) military movement should not be governed by shortsighted, foreign dictated, ill guided, sectarian policy. This conflict, and the murder of innocent Yemenis, is further evidence that this ummah is ill served by these selfish puppets who happen to ‘lead’ our lands. Muslims need Islam to establish the political framework, providing true liberation, unity and brotherhood between this once-great nation. Until such juncture, we will continue to suffer the negative effects of being governed by these charlatans, dancing at their masters’ tune, only interested in preserving narrow self-interest.