Saudi Arabia has launched air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen amidst escalating institutional meltdown. The Saudis are claiming support of the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan, which has reportedly offered to send its troops to the region, should the need arise.
Secretly aided by Yemen’s toppled leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis went after the country’s President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden (which was named Yemen’s temporary capital.). Hadi called upon Gulf States, the Arab League and the international community to intervene to end the bloody progression of the Houthis.
Many in the Middles East and beyond are looking at the Saudi intervention — called Operation Decisive Storm’ — as a serious twist in its known rivalry with Iran, which has called Saudi bombing campaign as “dangerous”. The emerging alliance of leading Muslim countries could potentially further destabilize the Middle East on sectarian lines. Leading analysts in Pakistan and opposition leader Imran Khan are vehemently opposing the increasing signals from the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is considered very close to Saudi royal family, to push Pakistan into the conflict. Sharif owes much to the Saudis who had brokered a deal with Pakistan’s former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf in 2000 and accepted him in exile.
“The situation in Yemen is, by any description, incendiary and Pakistan, as matters stand, appears to be getting ready to jump into the fray,” said English language daily Dawn in an editorial. It added:
It is difficult for Pakistan to play favorites with either Saudi Arabia or Iran — considering Pakistan’s strategic relationship with the former and geographical proximity with the latter. This is something both capitals need to understand.
Also, Pakistan is fighting its own internal war against militants. Can we realistically afford to despatch troops overseas when the military is currently engaged in Fata and elsewhere?
If anything Pakistan should use its good offices to help achieve a diplomatic solution, rather than become a party in this conflict.
“Nawaz Sharif must think a million times before making any troop commitment to Saudi Arabia because such an action would have disastrous repercussions,” said Dr Shahid Masoud, Pakistan’s leading analyst and television anchor in his television show. Pakistan has lost thousands of its citizens in a bloody sectarian strife between Saudi and Iran-backed sectarian extremist outfits over the years.
Fears of sending a Saudi Arabia-lead coalition force inside Yemen are increasing as this option is being considered in many Arab capitals. A decision is likely at a two-day Arab summit being held in Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh from Saturday, March 28.
According to Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Arabiya English, Saudi Arabia’s allies including all GCC states (excluding Oman), Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Pakistan have expressed willingness to participate in the military action against the rebels. Abbas in an opinion article and published in several Middle Eastern publications, justified the intervention, citing “despicable crimes committed by Houthis against innocent Sunni men”.
Having been a victim of several atrocious terrorist attacks itself, Saudi Arabia has always been a key ally in the war against terror and has been relentlessly pursuing Al-Qaeda and Daesh (self-proclaimed IS) militants in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. However, while Yemen’s proximity as well as the despicable crimes committed by Houthis against innocent Sunni men, women and children were all factors which led to the Saudi decision to use force, one needs to remember that Saudi Arabia and its allies are waging this war in the name of humanity, civilization and on behalf of the whole world.
‘Death to America’
Let us not forget that the Houthis – whose official slogan is “Death to America” and are known for their US flag burning practice – are agents of the world’s biggest terrorist regime in Tehran.
Indeed, the Iranian regime supports both Shiite and Sunni terrorist groups (according to US State and Treasury departments, key Al-Qaeda financiers and planners reside and work from Iran) which are the main source of upheaval and instability across the region, particularly in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. It was not surprising that the Iranians condemned the military response in Yemen as “military aggression.”
Support for a joint military action was visible in several editorials in leading Middle Eastern publications. These included the UAE-based Gulf News which advocated Saudi Arabia lead such an operation.
An active military contribution from Saudi Arabia with GCC backing would provide immediate and valuable support to Hadi’s government, which would weaken the rebel’s position and provide valuable breathing space for Hadi’s legitimate government to recover and strike back.