Hypocrisy in the Yemen war
The Houthis, Iran’s proxies in Yemen, are implausibly posturing themselves as proponents of peace ahead of talks this week in Sweden.
At a time when the international community was trying to de-escalate the conflict in Yemen, the Houthis were, however, seeking further escalation, hence boasting on November 29 of having fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi border province of Najran.
Despite their braggadocious proclamations, the Houthis have been clearly losing ground, whether it is around the port of Hodeidah, which is of vital importance to their Iranian supplies, or in their main turf in the province of Saada, where the coalition has been quickly advancing and provoking divisions and desertions within Houthi ranks.
Tehran’s leaders have been also expressing grief over the civilian toll of the war, ignoring their destructive role at the core of Yemen’s plight. Iran has financed and armed the Houthi militias that usurped power in Sana’a in 2015.
Using the tragic humanitarian consequences of Yemen’s war today to create a false parity between Saudi Arabia and Iran should fool no one.
In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo compared the records of both countries in Yemen. “Iran has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in Yemen. Iran has invested zero,” Pompeo wrote.
Peace talks are likely to take place in Stockholm in the coming days. Despite Houthi provocations, Saudi Arabia agreed in November to allow the evacuation of some Houthi fighters as a confidence-building measure.
Experts are sceptical about the intent of the Houthis and their Iranian patrons in Yemen, even when they claim to be supportive of peace efforts.
Countries of the region will not be convinced by the hypocrisy of either. Short of Iran abandoning its expansionist designs and its use of its Houthi proxies to carry out its destabilising plans, Yemen’s tragedy could unfortunately continue.