‘Tactical defeats’ plus ‘political confusion’ behind Saudis’ transient tone change in Yemen: expert

TEHRAN, Dec. 21 (MNA) – Professor of political science Colin S. Cavell says what has temporarily relaxed the Saudi war on Yemen is defeats of the coalition on the ground combined with political confusion among the coalition’s leaders.  

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Colin S. Cavell, a full professor of political science at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, talked about the latest developments in Yemen.

Here is the full text of the interview:

Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has softened its tone towards Yemeni forces, is this the result of their defeats on the ground or pressure from other countries?

Tactical defeats on the ground combined with logistical infighting and political confusion have temporarily relaxed the Saudi war on Yemen while the aggressor regroups its forces.  The Saudi-UAE designed pincer movement was to divide Yemen and allow forces from both the south and the north to bring the Yemeni people to submission.  While establishing the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the south in April of 2017, the KSA continued its attacks on Yemen from the north, which they have done since the commencement of this war in March of 2015.  The pincer movement was not working but, rather, impeding their war on the Yemeni peoples led by the Houthi liberation movement.  Thus, recently, on November 5, 2019, the STC signed an agreement in Riyadh to merge with the Saudi-installed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

With the reunification of the pro-Riyadh forces in addition to the continuing US buildup of its military forces in the Persian Gulf and surrounding region, as well as the upcoming November 2020 US presidential campaign, one should expect to see renewed major attacks by the Saudi vassal regime forces of Hadi in the new year, albeit the Saudi forces will continue their indiscriminate aerial bombardment of Yemen in addition to their arbitrary detentions, torture, and selected disappearances of Yemenis in the meantime.

Despite reports of behind-the-scenes negotiations and prospects of peace, Saudi Arabia is still launching attacks at the war-torn country. How do you assess these developments?

The aggressors, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, suffered notable attacks on May 12, 2019 when explosives on four ships anchored off the Fujairah coast in the Gulf of Oman blew holes into their hulls.  While the US blamed Iran for these explosions, no evidence as yet has conclusively revealed the source of the explosions.  However, on September 14, 2019, two pre-dawn drone attacks knocked out more than half of the KSA’s oil output at its state-owned facilities at Abqaiq and at Khurais.  KSA’s global oil output amounts to approximately five percent of global supply or about 5.7 million barrels per day, so this was quite a wake-up call to the Saudi Kingdom and its imperial allies, the US and the UK, as it demonstrated the vulnerability of Saudi oil facilities to Yemeni liberation rebel attacks.  Despite the Yemeni liberation movement claiming responsibility for these attacks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instead blamed Iran, which Iran denied.  Having demonstrated the weakness of Saudi defenses around its oil facilities, the Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman has had to restrain his onslaught on Yemen until he and the KSA’s imperial sponsors can devise a strategy to deal with these developments.

Five years into this devastating war, reports indicate a deep and concerning human crisis in Yemen. Millions of civilians are on the brink of famine and the UN has even described the situation as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. However, the Saudi-led coalition is still imposing a blockade which hampers humanitarian aids. Why is the world remaining almost silent to what is going on in Yemen?

In February of 2019, the United Nations declared the war in Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as nearly 80% of the population or nearly 24 of a total population of 28 million people lack food, medicine, and security protection.  Faced with widespread starvation, largely due to the Saudi blockade of the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, a blockade buttressed by US support, has resulted in the worst outbreak of cholera in recorded history, millions of Yemeni children being deprived of schooling, healthcare, and safety, and an international crisis that could trigger a world conflagration.  The imperial powers of the USA and the UK operate on a hierarchical basis reflecting one’s power and wealth, meaning the ruling classes of these regimes retain power only so long as they subjugate others, particularly countries that supply raw materials, natural resources, and other commodities deemed essential.  As well, these countries are able to get away with international crimes, crimes against humanity, or, simply, theft, bribery, murder, and genocide so long as they keep their actions hidden or obscured from their own populations.  Thus, in the United States, for example, few people know anything about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or that they are one of the USA’s closest allies.  Much less know even that the country of Yemen exists.  With control of the mass media, the country can choose what information it will present to its populace, how to portray the information, and, as well, direct the populace how to feel about a certain situation, people, country, war, etc. at specified times.  Because the US is allied with the monarchical kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it will, since it cares not if the kingdom systematically engages in criminal activity, gloss over or ignore any faults or crimes—like the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or the war in Yemen or its ill-treatment of its female population, etc.—committed by the KSA.  In return, the Saudi royal family, which depends upon its imperial protectors to stay in power and alive, will gladly sell the kingdom’s resources at a discount to the US, the UK, and assorted allies while acting as an appendage of the western imperial war machine.  Consequently, only specialists and interested observers are able to avail themselves of the truth of what is going on in Yemen, though they, too, are subjected to the imperial guardians and gatekeepers.

How do you see the future of Yemen’s politics after a probable peace is established?

The United States and the United Kingdom are, internally, not so united these days.  Though the leaders of both countries share collective interests, both countries’ ruling elites are waging war on their domestic populations.  Britain is divided severely over whether to remain apart from or a part of the European continent, though the British capitalist class will strongly push through their country’s exit from the European Union.  The United States is facing an impeachment trial of its president.  Both countries are faced with severe economic difficulties which are not being highlighted by both countries’ media.  And, of course, both countries are at war in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, attempting to retain their imperial realms of control.  The war in Yemen is a war being waged by one of their primary vassals, Saudi Arabia, in order to retain hegemonic control in the region.  Given the current correlation of forces both in the Middle East region as well as internationally, I do not believe this conflict will resolve itself with a temporary peace or a cessation of violence by the warring protagonists.  Instead, this conflict is a presage or indication that the immediate conflicting combatants are only proxies of larger entities that have irreconcilable demands and interests. As such, the immediate war in Yemen will either continue on as is indefinitely so long as a balance is maintained amongst the contending great powers.  However, while this stalemate is being played out, the structure, organization, character, and distribution of the various forces on the ground in Yemen may ebb and flow depending on a number of subjective determinations which are undertaken.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Colin S. Cavell earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University in 1982, his Masters of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of New Orleans in 1987, and his Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Massachusetts in February 2001. Dr. Cavell is a tenured Full Professor of Political Science at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, having previously served as Chair of the Department of Social Sciences.  Dr. Cavell is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts and has taught at the University of Bahrain in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Junior Statesman Foundation Summer Program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, as well as at the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Interview by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

News Code 153553


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