As an explanation of the approach of this paper, as a starting point, can be seen as a first attempt by me, as an activist in public affairs, to contribute to enriching ongoing discussions for months about ending the war in Yemen. It considers two essential elements in this equation: Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, there is a third, emergent element, playing role to manipulate the inputs and outputs, represented by the United Arab Emirates.
In this paper, I earnestly attempt to trace the most significant events, facts, and concerns related to the Yemeni-Saudi relationship, analyzing its variables independently of condemnation or praise. This approach aims to draw the attention of actors in Yemen and the Kingdom primarily to aspects I describe as a witness, researcher, and professional in a related field. I believe in the importance of writing in approaching problems, conceptualizing solutions, and taking a bet that writing could be one of the ways to construct a productive Yemeni-Saudi relationship, considering my awareness that addressing one of the most sensitive issues between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and between them are the stabs of Emirati knives, is a risk many avoid despite understanding its realities, facts, and dimensions. Nevertheless, I see it as a worthwhile endeavor at this time.
This approach presents a series of facts about developments and events related to its main subject, along with its local, regional, and international connections. It delves into various subtopics, all of which collectively aim to build coherent arguments and insights. These insights provide keys for broader and deeper studies in line with the rich content of this approach, which is filled with words, milestones, information, and key findings related to the complex and intertwined dimensions of Yemeni-Saudi relations.
It is crucial to emphasize, as I present this approach, that it should not be misconstrued in any way. It should not undermine my steadfast stance on Saudi Arabia's human rights violations and injustice within the Kingdom, in addition to the serious violations committed in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. This position will not change unless Saudi Arabia courageously takes steps to support the victims, compensate them, and hold the perpetrators accountable fairly. The Saudia Arabia is the only one has the ability to address it comprehensively and can undertake its effects and consequences.
Now, following a series of developments, including the cessation of hostilities and more serious consultations to end the war, a suitable space has emerged to approach Yemeni-Saudi relations calmly, which differs significantly from the situation during the war, its events, priorities, and circumstances. Especially after the significant shift in Saudi Arabia's approach to the Yemen war, shifting away from the military option and returning to politics, negotiations, and mediation. This shift is closely related to the radical changes within the Saudi political system, indicating a new vision for its national security.
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed significant developmental and modernization leaps on multiple levels as part of Saudi Vision 2030. Recognizing the importance of the developmental and societal dimensions of these leaps and transformations for Saudi Arabia, these profound changes also hold political, economic, security, and military dimensions at the regional and international levels.
The Renaissance Transformation in Saudi Arabia
Without a doubt, it must be acknowledged that all the estimations that suggested what has been happening in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of 2015 was simply a sudden leap. It will either be thwarted by the influence of the deep state and its guardians, or it will end up as a stigma, marking its early steps. If, by some miracle, it survives this, it will be hindered by the claws of hegemonic states that thrive economically, and in their interests, and prosperity by relying on a Saudi regime that is very old and flabby. Assigned with the task of securing the magical holes that transfer the numerous benefits of one of the world's largest natural resources to the opposite side of the world, the far west. It's true that all these estimations and others lacked precision, perhaps due to the absence of many of the necessary data at that time to reach accurate estimations, conclusions, and assessments.
Contrary to all analyses regarding the aging of the governing regime in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country has witnessed significant developmental and modernization leaps on multiple levels as part of Saudi Vision 2030. Recognizing the importance of the developmental and societal dimensions of these leaps and transformations for Saudi Arabia, these profound changes also hold political, economic, security, and military dimensions at the regional and international levels. This is due to Saudi Arabia's critical position at the forefront of the global economy, with all the implications this has for international politics.
In just a few years, under the leadership of a young generation, the Kingdom has become aware of its sources of strength. It possesses the awareness, determination, ambition, vision, and efficiency to safeguard its interests in all their aspects and dimensions.
Saudi national security Domain
From a New Leadership Perspective
Given the presence of a new Saudi leadership working towards an ambitious and promising vision, it is reasonable to propose another hypothesis: that those driving this transformation, in all its dimensions and complexities, necessarily have a strategic vision for foreign policy in a strategic geopolitical area. This vision relies on a new perspective of Saudi national security domain as one of the essential paths to protect a developmental project that, if successful, could elevate Saudi Arabia to new heights. As demonstrated by the steps taken in recent years, this could be a leap of a hundred years that would completely redefine Saudi Arabia, far from the stereotypical definitions of Saudi friends and foes alike.
Perhaps what has been surprising to many in recent times, at the very least, is a series of milestones where Saudi Arabia effectively addressed its national security issues, particularly from a sensitive perspective, regarding the intersections of local, regional, and international dynamics. Furthermore, it involved a carefully planned initiative that identified Saudi interests and challenges from an entirely new approach. This included the weaving of new relationship patterns with local, regional, and international actors, redefining allies and adversaries.
For instance, this new approach encompasses Saudi Arabia's relations with the United States, China, its approach to the Ukrainian war through OPEC, energy matters, relations with Turkey and India, as well as its relations with Iran and Qatar. It also involves a review of its relationship with the United Arab Emirates and an effective response to the evolving situation in Yemen, dealing decisively with stability threats in Hadramout. This represents a new image of Saudi foreign policy, defining its national security and its content in a way that differs significantly from before, particularly under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman, before the year 2022.
To provide a clearer picture of the definition of national security for states, we can refer to two models that precisely define the national security scope for countries. The first model is the unified Western response to the war in Ukraine, with the United States at the forefront, defining the frontlines of its national security in Ukraine. The second model is the Marshall Plan, aimed at rescuing Europe from the dire conditions following World War II in the middle 20th century. Using these models and others, we can understand what Yemen means to Saudi Arabia and what Saudi Arabia means to Yemen from a national security perspective, with its determinants and parameters.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confronts several significant challenges in Yemen. One of the most pressing dilemmas is the direct threat to its southern border, as armed groups have forcefully seized control of the northern Yemeni border strip. This situation poses a grave concern as these groups serve the interests of hostile parties, notably Iran, which seeks expansion in the region. Furthermore, there are projects aimed at dividing and fragmenting southern Yemen. One such project involves supporting the armed formations that advocate for secession, a move endorsed by the United Arab Emirates. This support poses a tangible and immediate danger to Saudi national security. It is crucial for the Kingdom to acknowledge this reality, and in the following explanation, this paper will provide detailed evidence to substantiate this claim.
The interactions of the transitional phase in Yemen coincided with an unusual transition of power in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on January 23, 2015. King Salman bin Abdulaziz assumed power, and what followed were significant transformations within a well-thought-out framework of re-governance. Notable steps included the appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Minister of Defense on January 23, 2015, followed by his appointment as Crown Prince on June 21, 2017. Finally, he was appointed as Prime Minister on September 27, 2022.
Two Synchronized Transitional Phases
In Yemen and Saudi Arabia
Yemen underwent a political transition process during 2012 and 2014 under the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism, signed at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on November 23, 2011, under the patronage of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia. This initiative aimed at political settlement following the popular uprising in 2011 against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The initiative sought to preserve Yemen's unity, security, and stability, meet the aspirations of the Yemeni people for change and reform, and ensure the peaceful and secure transfer of power, avoiding Yemen's descent into chaos and violence within a framework of national consensus.
The interactions of the transitional phase in Yemen coincided with an unusual transition of power in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on January 23, 2015. King Salman bin Abdulaziz assumed power, and what followed were significant transformations within a well-thought-out framework of re-governance. Notable steps included the appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Minister of Defense on January 23, 2015, followed by his appointment as Crown Prince on June 21, 2017. Finally, he was appointed as Prime Minister on September 27, 2022. This period saw a deep transformation within the Saudi political system, initiating a precise and sensitive phase for the nascent transformation project in Saudi Arabia. During this time, the new Saudi leadership was deeply involved in these foundational operations, leaving a dangerous vacuum in the Kingdom's foreign policy, including the neglect of areas within Saudi Arabia's national security domain primarily.
In this gap, many carefully engineered changes were planted to undermine Saudi interests and everything associated with them. Two prominent aspects of this situation were the rapidly evolving events in Yemen and the announcement of the Iranian nuclear deal, following extensive dialogues with the Obama administration, without consulting or even briefing Saudi Arabia beforehand.
Situation in Yemen and Its Regional Connections
How was Yemen pushed into the traps of war?
In the midst of international leniency and regional voids, within creating a plan to fill the voids in Yemen, the Houthi group transformed from a small faction in northern Yemen into an armed entity that seized control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, and other provinces through armed force on September 21, 2014. This transformation occurred after all the obstacles that were supposed to halt the group's progress were removed, as it extended its influence beyond its stronghold in the Saada mountains. This was done with the complicity of regional and international actors, which was then interpreted as one of the byproducts of the U.S.-Iranian side agreements, as part of the nuclear deal.
Jamal Benomar, the UN envoy to Yemen at the time, revealed in an interview with Russia Today, which aired in early May 2023, that one of the reasons for the outbreak of the war lay in the refusal of Yemeni political forces to accept a proposal to allocate a maritime outlet for the Azal territory as part of the federal territories envisioned in the National Dialogue. What was dangerous about Benomar's disclosure was that it explained many of the fabricated events that led to the fragmentation of Yemen. These events were made to appear as if they were not natural developments. He revealed that secret discussions took place in 2013 when the Houthis were still a small force in Saada. According to Benomar, these discussions included an understanding that Azal territory would be designated as a separate region governing by the Houthi group. The publicly declared concept of Azal territory as one of the outcomes of the National Dialogue was actually imposed as a carefully engineered input to fertilize all subsequent events.
Furthermore, this interview shed light on facts that explained many roles, events, and developments during the years 2012-2014 that remained perplexing in their significance.
The coalition operations announced on the dawn of March 26, 2015, represented a new trap in which Saudi Arabia became embroiled. It cannot absolve itself of its responsibilities, as they weighed heavily on Saudi Arabia. Rather than the political, military, and security repercussions, all accounts confirm that Yemen and Saudi Arabia were the only two clear losers in the outbreak, conduct, and results of the war.
Announcement of the Iranian Nuclear Deal
The Shock and Improvised Response
The announcement of the Iranian nuclear deal represented a turning point in the foreign policy of the new Saudi leadership, which seemed to recognize the multifaceted effects on its national security resulting from the vast gaps in its foreign policies. However, the forms of Saudi response required to deal with these unusual developments and related variables, including the rapid sequence of events in Yemen, were not fully studied or explored. Among these developments was the announcement of the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen, which was, in fact, another trap set for Saudi Arabia. Both allies and adversaries united to push Saudi Arabia into this trap to achieve various objectives, none of which were in favor of either Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Instead, it created a situation that entirely contradicted the interests of both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individually and collectively.
Therefore, the coalition operations announced on the dawn of March 26, 2015, represented a new trap in which Saudi Arabia became embroiled. It cannot absolve itself of its responsibilities, as they weighed heavily on Saudi Arabia. Rather than the political, military, and security repercussions, all accounts confirm that Yemen and Saudi Arabia were the only two clear losers in the outbreak, conduct, and results of the war. In this context, one can test one of the hypotheses of this approach by frequently asking a question that has been posed during the years of the war: Did Saudi Arabia fail in Yemen, or was it set up to fail?
The early years of Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reign were marked by serious mistakes, most notably the war in Yemen and the serious violations that targeted civilians and civilian objects during that war. It also included the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the arrest of Saudi activists, the detention of prominent Saudi figures, executions, confiscation of the assets of several businessmen, targeting the Shiite minority in the Kingdom, active involvement in the crisis with Qatar, engaging in a zero-sum game with the Muslim Brotherhood, supporting the coup in Egypt, and many other issues. These files remain open, and there is only one way to close them: by taking the initiative to address them and their consequences with courage, responsibility, and boldness, rather than carrying their heavy burden in all its dimensions forward.
The Gulf Initiative and Its Failure
Yemen as an Open Arena for Intrigues
During the first few months of the transitional phase in Yemen between 2012 and 2014, many successful steps were taken within the framework of the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism, albeit with significant reservations about some of its contents. Suddenly, Yemen was forcibly pushed onto an entirely different path that had been carefully engineered to achieve a series of undisclosed objectives, which can now be discerned by piecing together the elements of the scene, its events, and outcomes over more than a decade. By tracing and analyzing these events, coherent conclusions can be drawn, proving that the first blows to Yemen and Saudi Arabia together began with a meticulously planned operation aimed at sabotaging the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism. This sabotage was meant to undermine an effective Saudi political approach to protect Yemen from sliding into the traps of conflict.
Iran’s Fingerprints and Engagements in Yemen
The Mission of Exporting Chaos
To define Iran's role, foreign policy, and its perspective on its national security domain, one can look at the visible facts and results of its expansionist activities under the banner of exporting revolution since 1979. This is evident in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, where Iran's contributions to those societies through its allies involve a mixture of arms, conflict, lethal ideology, and propaganda slogans. The same applies to what Iran did in Yemen, particularly from the perspective of Iran’s national security. In these countries, including Yemen, they serve as arenas for maneuvering through means of hard force, which have left these societies weaker and poorer on all levels and in all calculations. In this sense, their fate is no different from that of other countries whose foreign policies are rooted in their colonial history, such as Britain, the United States, and France, or regional tools like Israel and the UAE. Their roles and interventions inevitably lead to the same result: the weakening of states and societies, ill-fate allies and friends, in the Middle East and Africa.
Within the context of the honeymoon phase in the Obama administration, the warm relations with Iran, and the subsequent risky gaps in the transitional phases in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Iran managed to secure a substantial share of the inheritance of the ailing man. It was all part of a pie-dividing process in Yemen, where Iran's allies took the north while the UAE's allies seized the south, in the event of a conflict and serving of interests, much like a Machiavellian power struggle, all within the framework of political realism in international relations.
Upon closer examination of the military operations over the years of the war, which have largely spanned various fronts and contact lines since the second year of the war, at the boundaries of this division, it reveals an undeniable truth. The disputes among the regional and local parties involved in the division were primarily about the boundaries of that division and related secondary issues regarding resources and access points, nothing more, nothing less.
UAE Roles and Its Connections
To avoid being accused of making sweeping judgments and delving into conspiracy theories, it is possible to approach the events and developments, along with the accumulated facts over the past decades, and the current reality today, and a set of facts and evidence within them, from a political theory perspective. This is done independently of any value judgments stemming from the author's predefined role in the field of human rights and his approach to international politics.
By examining how these align with the principles, values, and ethics that should be adhered to in all circumstances, including Means of resolving international disputes peacefully and conflict prevention through mediation, negotiation, diplomacy, arbitration, and international justice, these concepts are considered within the framework of the ideal theory of international relations and relevant global charters, including the United Nations Charter. However, the author believes that the contents of this approach can also be read in terms of the determinants of the theory of offensive political realism, which deals with international relations, through a set of ideas, revolving around central hypotheses: chaos motivates states to expand and maximize their relative power, and states that are exposed to a threat Always seeking to achieve a balance of power with hostile countries, powerful countries remain in a constant state of searching for opportunities to enhance their power at the expense of their counterparts. According to the theories of Dr. John Mearsheimer, professor of international relations at the University of Chicago in the United States, one of the pioneers of the school of offensive realism in international relations, as a theory that took root starting with Hans Morganthau’s book (Politics Among Nations), which established the most important categories and concepts of realism, and before that with the works of Thomas Hobbes. And Niccolò Machiavelli.
According to the theory of political realism, there are key determinants to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's vision for Emirati foreign policy, based on a thorough analytical approach that outlines its prominent elements. This analysis, published by the British Royal Institute on July 1, 2020, highlights priorities such as safeguarding vital trade routes and investing in infrastructure, specifically a network of ports, in the foreign and security policy of the United Arab Emirates.
To understand the historical dimensions of the UAE's undermining roles in all its intersections and aspects, one can summon facts, milestones, and headlines at the local, regional, and international levels. This begins with the presence of the Indian company in Aden, passing through the decades of British colonization of South Yemen, until the outbreak of the October 14, 1967 revolution and the departure of the last British soldier on November 30, 1967. This is a significant milestone closely related to the birth of the UAE as a state entity and its announcement on December 2, 1971, within the framework of British attempts to compensate for their loss of Aden and the island of Mayun as strategic sites.
This historical timeline also includes the UAE's stance on the 1994 war and its outcomes, linked to statements by Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State (2005–2009) and National Security Advisor (2001–2005), regarding the New Middle East. In an article, "Blood Boarders," published in July 2006, Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. officer from the U.S. Army War College, discussed the necessity of engineering and drawing new boundaries for the Middle East, granting each ethnic group its rights and fair representation, in line with a map similar to the one established by the Sykes-Picot Agreement nearly a century ago. This map aligns with the perspectives of Condoleezza Rice and Bernard Lewis within the framework of what was called the “arc of crises” countries.
Furthermore, there's the foresight map for the future of several Middle Eastern countries published in September 2013 by The New York Times, which included Yemen and Saudi Arabia as disintegrated entities into multiple cantons or city-states. Additionally, Western newspapers reported on a plan presented by Mohammed bin Zayed to Western governments under the pretext of preventing branches of the Muslim Brotherhood from coming to power in many Arab countries.
By taking a careful look at the transformations in the Arab world over the past decade, which have created a complex reality, it can be understood that they are not far from those openly disclosed plans that were imposed as a fait accompli through various means. These means included political and economic pressure, fueling tensions, cementing divisions, and direct and indirect military interventions with the aim of undermining their entities, seizing their decisions, and exerting control over them. This has become an enduring reality.
To test what was published in The Wall Street Journal regarding a statement by Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman to a team of his aides about being figuratively stabbed in the back by the UAE, at least on the surface, the conclusion of this test is that the sentence, with its multiple connotations, aligns with well-established facts. These facts have been unquestionably shaped by various roles played by the UAE, with Yemen being one of the fields of these roles. In addition to several countries in the region and around it, various hypotheses, arguments, and facts support this approach.
All the events align with the conclusions I've gathered over the years of the war and the preceding years. One common theme that emerged from numerous discussions in meetings with actors, decision-makers, and experts in various capitals around the world is the difficulty in interpreting many events in Yemen that have occurred under the umbrella of a Saudi-led coalition. The clearest aspect of these events is that, by all calculations, they run counter to Saudi Arabia's envisioned and strategic interests. These events are often viewed independently of their relevance to Yemen's interests, emphasizing their utmost importance, or as part of the Kingdom's national security framework, or within the context of the shared interests of both nations.
The revelations made by The Wall Street Journal have sparked thoughts that have long intrigued me, as well as others, both inside and outside Yemen, who are deeply involved in the Yemeni conflict file. These thoughts revolve primarily around the war's origins, causes, parties involved, objectives, and the beneficiaries and losers resulting from its transformations and outcomes. Additionally, a lengthy series of question marks surround the nature of the relationship between the UAE and Saudi Arabia within this context, including points of agreement and divergence, the realities of competition and conflict, and the true nature of the Emirati roles, which have consistently appeared to be in opposition to Saudi declared policies and, at least realistically, against Saudi interests.
To understand the directions of Emirati roles, there are many key milestones that can be traced, starting from June 2013 when they succeeded in toppling Egypt's first elected civilian president and the Muslim Brotherhood's rule, and later extended, following the success of the coup in Egypt, to Yemen and Libya, and subsequently to Tunisia and Sudan. The Muslim Brotherhood's rise was merely a cover used for these aggressive subversive operations targeting many Arab entities. One of its clear objectives was to encircle Saudi interests with a fiery and booby-trapped belt, and Yemen was just one link in this long chain. One piece of evidence for this is that the Emirati force that was eradicating the Muslim Brotherhood in Aden was the same force that was protecting the Brotherhood with an iron dome and Patriot batteries in Marib.
Another indicator is that the UAE's portrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood's extremist ideology, according to the UAE's description, was not the issue. While the UAE claimed to oppose Islamic extremists and accused Saudi Arabia of supporting them, the UAE itself supported Salafists in Yemen, including prominent figures like Abu al-Abbas in Taiz, who is on the U.S. terrorism list. Additionally, they supported Hani bin Breik, Al-Mahrami, Al-Mihdhar, Hamdi Shukri, Abdul Latif Al-Sayyed, and a long list of militant Salafists.
Therefore, the active Emirati roles in many Arab countries, including Yemen, essentially represent the enforcement of a meticulously planned and engineered mission by actors whose interests are intertwined. These actors can be defined within a framework that includes Britain, the United States, Israel, and the UAE. One chapter of this mission involves the fragmentation of Yemen and the control of its coastal strip —a link in the chain aimed at the fragmentation of Saudi Arabia and its encirclement with a fiery belt along its long border, both in the north and east of Yemen. In a broader context, this mission seeks to destabilize Sudan in a way that UAE's interests come true only by undermining the interests of Yemen and Saudi Arabia together.
To envision what could happen in the future if the UAE's activities continue, we can now, as we approach the end of 2023, look at the reality of the Arab region. We have before us everything that has been published in the Western press in recent years, as non-secret plans. Just a decade ago, these plans were considered nearly impossible to achieve, but they have now become established facts and situations. They were neglected by decision-makers at the time of their publication, and even worse, they were treated as mere speculations and fantasies. This failure to take them seriously has led to the current consequences, which are now being paid for by the targeted societies, systems, and components. It is clear that the lessons should be learned to prevent further destabilization at greater costs on all levels.
It can be understood how the path of the Gulf Initiative was booby-trapped, starting with fueling inter-conflicts within the blocs of the Kingdom’s historical allies, with the collapse of the leadership of the administration of the transitional period, in a way that opened the way for international and regional actors, including Iran, the Emirates, and Qatar, as well as the UN envoy at the time, and passing through the roles Which the Minister of Defense played, at the time, for the benefit of regional actors.
Fragmentation in Yemen, on the Boarders of Blood and Gunpowder
Bin Zayed is not Guevara nor Castro
By tracking a sequence of rapid and unexpected developments that have affected Yemen, along with carefully engineered and coordinated roles in a scene flooded with ambiguity and uncertainty, we can grasp the way the Gulf Initiative was rigged from the start. It began with the fomenting of internal conflicts within the historical allies of the Kingdom, allowing for the impairment of the leadership of the transitional phase. This opened the door for regional actors, including the then-UN envoy Jamal Benomar, a British-Moroccan, to engage in reckless roles beyond their mandates. They cooperated with the then-Minister of Defense, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, in the service of regional players whose current hosting countries reveal their identities. These actions aimed to undermine the political transition in Yemen, setting the stage for a series of catastrophic collapses. This was carefully orchestrated to create a space for deadly attacks against Yemen and Saudi Arabia. This was driven by conflicting interests, from the perspective that any political stability that leads to a renaissance project, in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individually or together, represents an existential threat to the interests of the competing party. One of the realized outcomes of this process was the empowerment of the Kingdom's regional adversaries, primarily Iran, to extend its influence into an open area on its southern flank. Meanwhile, wide areas of Yemen saw the expansion of the influence of regional players competing to fill the void, such as the UAE and Qatar.
To create strategic assurances that prevent addressing these distortions and condemn any possibility of recovery, Yemen was designed to be an arena of engagement for regional actors who became involved in a series of dramatic developments in Yemen. As much as these operations undermined Yemen's interests and its entity, they also targeted, to the same extent, the realm of the Kingdom's interests.
The process of thwarting the Gulf Initiative was merely the first of Saudi Arabia's numerous failures. It began with freezing the military committee, one of the most crucial mechanisms for ensuring the success of the Gulf Initiative. Then, it progressed with the improvised and subversive restructuring of the army, blatantly violating the Initiative and its implementing mechanism. Political assassinations, fueling animosities and apprehensions among all political components and centers of traditional power followed. These actions aimed to prevent any progress in the steps agreed upon as urgent prerequisites for preparing for the national dialogue, all while under the influence of a general anesthetic called the "Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference."
This conference was meticulously designed to be void of any substantial, genuine, or effective content, ensuring that its form, convening, and results were carefully orchestrated and managed. Given the extreme dangers at the time, it was not, in reality, a preparatory process for the most critical and sinister developments. Its proceedings and facts unfolded with precision, pointing clearly to its director and beneficiary, acting against the genuine and legitimate interests, both individual and shared, of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The United Arab Emirates, under the guise of an ally, did what all of Saudi Arabia's enemies, both collective and individual, had not done. It completed its carefully planned and engineered mission under the banner of the alliance. It began by sabotaging the political process, which was nurtured by Saudi Arabia through the Gulf Initiative. Then, it undermined the military operation from within, preventing it from achieving any of its stated objectives. In reality, it successfully accomplished strategic goals for the UAE, acting as its architect and effective leader, and serving as the sole beneficiary of all its outcomes. This included destabilizing the internationally recognized government in its temporary capital, Aden, and sabotaging the Riyadh Agreement. In addition to all this, there was a long series of surprise operations through which an entirely new and highly complex reality was established, ultimately fulfilling an aggressive mission in essence, nature, and result, regardless of the various interpretations and ethical considerations of its motives.
The definition of the UAE mission and objectives can be understood through a careful examination of many of its actions before its withdrawal from the war in Yemen. Following this, its achievements were concentrated in a long series of operations aimed at imposing a fait accompli. This included replicating what happened in Sana’a, gaining control of Aden, involvement in the conflict in Al Salim, the withdrawal from extensive areas on the western coast, thwarting the Riyadh Agreement, and a swift operation to take control of Shabwa. These actions were carried out against the backdrop of the developments created by the war in Ukraine, thwarting the Presidential Council and the government's actions, and recently its venture in Mukalla, Hadhramout.
Among the gains of these operations is that the UAE has focused on achieving security, military, economic, political, and demographic objectives in the ports of Mukalla, Aden, Mukha, the island of Mayyun, Bab-el-Mandeb, and the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. Additionally, it extends its influence to Bosaso (Puntland, Somalia), Barawa (Somaliland/Somalia), Assab (Eritrea), and others.
The established fact from all the aforementioned arguments is that Mohammed bin Zayed, President of the UAE, is not akin to Fidel Castro or Che Guevara. His role in orchestrating subversive Emirati roles in countries like Yemen should not be construed as part of revolutionary ideals. Instead, it should be seen as a calculated effort to create a fait accompli situation, particularly in Yemen, where his actions and gambits can be understood by attributing these roles to motives rooted in consistent and cumulative visions within the framework of the right to self-determination. This perspective should also take into account basic services, including electricity and other essential services in areas that have been under his control and influence for the past eight years, such as Aden. It is possible to discern his true intentions from these actions.
What Bin Zayed is doing in Yemen and to Saudi Arabia, is not part of a charitable mission driven by noble motives. Consequently, the promised paradises, conditioned by the fulfillment of identities and non-national characteristics, are mere mirages used to lure communities into traps that lead to increased fragmentation, instability, and division.
In a broader context, testing the standards and principles of dominant hegemony and colonialism, which engineer fragmentation and destruction and redraw maps through their regional proxies, begins with places like Northern Ireland, California, Sharjah, Barcelona, and Catalonia. In these places, stable conditions allow for direct mechanisms of free choice for people to determine their own fates and select their political frameworks. The results are transparent, fair, and accurate, representing the true choices of the people. In contrast, our countries have been forcibly subjected to abnormal conditions that turn any gamble in this perilous path into a matter of coercion, force, forgery, immorality, illegality and no purpose.
Settlement with the UAE First
One of the most important requirements for protecting the national security interests of Saudi Arabia, its strategic vision, and the national security of Yemen and the Middle East is to begin by reaching a settlement with the UAE. This settlement should align with its high concerns and inputs, without compromising the Saudi-Yemeni national security issues and addressing the subversive elements. The UAE should commit to taking serious initiatives, providing a comprehensive map of all the mines it planted over the years in Yemen and the region, and taking steps to neutralize their subversive effects. These measures are necessary to rebuild trust and start serious discussions for a historical settlement that considers the interests of everyone without exception.
In this context, the statement made by US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during a meeting with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023 is worth mentioning. He called on both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to reach an agreement to manage conflicting interests in the region.
The UAE has been working since 2013 to leverage Saudi Arabia, its pivotal position, and its resources against its own interests. This includes supporting the military coup in Egypt, the subsequent events, the war in Yemen, and the crisis with Qatar. Moreover, the UAE's actions in Sudan.
Yemen and Saudi Arabia: The UAE Roles
As much as there are facts in the transformations of the situation in Yemen over the past decade, there are many regional and international events that reinforce the assumptions and conclusions of this approach regarding the subversive UAE roles, its connections, and its closely related directions with the future of Yemeni-Saudi relations. These considerations will be briefly discussed.
It is a fact that the UAE has been working since 2013 to leverage Saudi Arabia, its pivotal position, and its resources against its own interests. This includes supporting the military coup in Egypt, the subsequent events, the war in Yemen, and the crisis with Qatar. Moreover, the UAE's actions in Sudan are closely linked to Yemen through four factors: the forces participating in the Yemen war within the coalition, the interests of Saudi Arabia, fragmentation and its lines, and what the UAE reveals about itself through this level of audacity and shock. This also highlights the importance of Saudi Arabia's role in the region, which has been achieved despite the UAE's efforts to undermine it. The UAE is alarmed by Saudi Arabia's progress with its Vision 2030, which poses an existential threat to its interests and presence, primarily due to demographic and biological reasons. This explains Mohammed bin Zayed's boycott of the Arab-Chinese Summit and the Arab-American Summit, both of which reflect the true Emirati positions regarding any developments taking place in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, there are numerous other reasons explained by this analysis, based on a purely pragmatic perspective that attributes this position to the UAE's high sensitivity to what its decision-maker considers legitimate measures to safeguard its country's interests in a Machiavellian manner.
Indeed, this heightened sensitivity extends beyond that point; it encompasses the reputation of the UAE as well. Since the first day of the Coalition's war in Yemen, the UAE has taken deliberate steps, utilizing its diplomatic network and extensive global relationships, to safeguard its reputation against any criticisms leveled at the Coalition's actions. This includes aspects related to human rights, humanitarian concerns, politics, and the military. Their demands have consistently revolved around not mentioning the UAE when referring to the Coalition and instead using the title "Coalition led by Saudi Arabia." Moreover, they have gone further by crafting a mental image of the UAE's professional forces, which are depicted as decisive victors in every battle they enter, in stark contrast to Saudi forces, which are portrayed as ineffectual and unsuccessful in all of their engagements throughout the conflict in Yemen.
The UAE and Iran: A Public De-escalation Course
In addition to its active roles in many Arab countries, which, as a whole, realistically mirrors the Iranian model in its subversive roles beyond its borders under the banner of exporting revolution, the UAE has displayed a consistent approach to safeguarding its interests in response to incidents targeting its sovereignty. In the wake of attacks on ships in the Emirati port of Fujairah on May 13, 2019, the UAE, in alignment with its high sensitivity towards its interests, initiated a new direction: public de-escalation with Iran. Following this, Emirati officials announced visits to Tehran to discuss de-escalation mechanisms. Furthermore, after the alleged Iranian attack on Saudi oil infrastructure in September 2019 and again following the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, the UAE publicly called for de-escalation.
In a series of consistent steps aimed at de-escalation with Iran, the UAE adopted a unilateral stance by reestablishing its relations with the Bashar al-Assad regime and formally announcing its symbolic withdrawal from the war in Yemen. This came after years of supporting Houthi rebels, freezing all its fronts with them, and undermining the internationally recognized Saudi-backed Yemeni government, including the Islah Party in southern Yemen. Additionally, the UAE withdrew unilaterally from extensive areas in the western coast of Yemen. These actions followed multiple Houthi attacks on the UAE in January 2022, marking the third attack within the same month, with the first attack occurring on January 17, 2022, and the second a week later. These were the first and last Houthi attacks since the announcement of Coalition operations on March 26, 2015.
Prior to all these actions, reports from the United Nations Security Council sanctions expert panel had pointed to UAE-based companies contributing to oil smuggling for the Houthis, circumventing sanctions during the peak of the Yemen conflict.
To approach the Chinese vision for the Middle East within the Belt and Road Initiative, one can refer to what Chinese President Xi Jinping stated during his speech at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo during his visit to the region in the second half of January 2016
The Belt and Road Initiative – China's Global Economic Perspective
In a broader context, the Emirati roles during the war in Yemen, its preludes, and its subversive roles in many countries are linked to international factors, including the Silk Road, as a promising project representing China's vision for the world with multiple dimensions.
The Silk Road is a project officially announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time in 2013 and officially launched in March 2015 under the name "Vision and Action." It is a vast network of massive operations, including main and subsidiary roads, a network of massive bridges, a network of high-speed railways, as well as a network of maritime routes, navigation lines, regional giant ports, and infrastructure. It is a strategic project that connects the three continents of the world and covers more than 72 countries, with 75% of the world's population.
In addition to what has been mentioned, it is an integrated system of industrial cities, free markets, giant dams, agricultural technologies, electricity production and transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, and the exchange of goods and services. The project is based on a new international political entity known as the BRICS group, as a new international alliance.
To approach the Chinese vision for the Middle East within the Belt and Road Initiative, one can refer to what Chinese President Xi Jinping stated during his speech at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo during his visit to the region in the second half of January 2016: "The exchanges between China and the Middle East have transcended the barriers of time and space, and for the continued strong relationship between the two sides, China hopes to engage more positively in the affairs of the Middle East, with the aim of bringing its old friends closer and building trust with its new friends." These sentiments were reinforced during the Arab-Chinese summit and its outcomes, as well as during the Saudi-Chinese summit.
Despite the economic dimension being of paramount importance for the Silk Road, it is also linked to geopolitical dimensions, effectively weaving international, demographic, economic, political, cultural, and social relations. Therefore, it is one of the most influential factors shaping the policies and interactions of countries around the world, including those in the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and particularly the UAE, with their coordinated roles within a context of intersecting interests involving Israel, Britain, and the United States of America.
Local, Regional, and International Interactions
Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, China and Silk Road
From various milestones, including the Arab-China Summit under Saudi sponsorship, the Saudi-Chinese Summit, and joint cooperation agreements between the two countries, there are indications suggesting that Saudi Arabia is drawing closer to announcing its membership in the BRICS group, which now holds a substantial share of the global economy and is seen as China's key partner in the Middle East.
Another crucial development in Saudi-China cooperation was the unexpected signing of the Saudi-Iranian agreement mediated by China, followed by the reopening of long-closed embassies in Riyadh and Tehran. This unexpected move is expected to contribute to quelling many fires in the region, including the war in Yemen. It's worth noting that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has stated that he bears the responsibility of uplifting Middle Eastern countries, referring to the European Renaissance as a model. These statements reflect a high degree of seriousness and realism.
The cumulative steps taken so far reveal the outlines of courses that aim to achieve a development vision led by Saudi Arabia for the region, in line with the objectives of national security. This vision aligns with the principles of the Belt and Road Initiative from China's perspective.
One of the primary conditions for the success of Saudi Arabia's vision for the Middle East and the success of Vision 2030 for the upliftment of Saudi Arabia itself is taking effective action to address the serious distortions represented by the boundaries of violence and conflict in many Arab countries. Addressing these issues should transform any Saudi development project into a supported Arab bloc, seen as a common interest in dealing with the looming global transformations on multiple fronts.
Yemen, China, and the Silk Road: From Canceling the Dubai Ports Agreement to Hadi's Visit to China
Just weeks after the Yemeni government announced the cancellation of the agreement that granted Dubai Ports Company the operation of Aden port since 2008, accusing the Dubai-based company of causing disruptions aimed at hindering operations in the port in favor of other ports it managed, a new agreement for the development and operation of Aden port was announced. This agreement, costing $507 million, is funded by China and includes expanding and deepening the container terminal, constructing an additional berth, deepening and expanding the external navigation channel, and deepening and expanding the internal navigation channel. These development works will be carried out by China Harbor Engineering Company in partnership with the Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation.
This agreement was one of several economic and investment agreements signed during President Hadi's visit to Beijing in mid-November 2013. The notable timing of this visit coincided with the announcement of China's Belt and Road Initiative, providing clear indications regarding the subversive roles the UAE played in Yemen. These roles focused on Yemeni areas overlooking the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb, and the Indian Ocean, in addition to vital areas rich in natural resources, carrying significant geopolitical implications for Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
It is noteworthy that Yemen, represented by the President of the Presidential Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, did not receive an invitation to participate in the Arab-American Summit. In contrast, an official invitation was extended to Yemen to participate in the Arab-Chinese Summit. This is one of many indicators that underscore China's growing interest in Yemen within the context of international interactions in the Middle East.
The viewpoints of both Republicans and Democrats on matters related to China appear to be largely aligned. This can be observed by examining U.S. foreign policy toward China over the past three administrations—Obama, Trump, and Biden
China and the Silk Road: From the Perspective of the United States and Its Allies
The viewpoints of both Republicans and Democrats on matters related to China appear to be largely aligned. This can be observed by examining U.S. foreign policy toward China over the past three administrations—Obama, Trump, and Biden—through several key issues. These include issues related to sanctions, Taiwan, Chinese telecommunications technologies, and the Silk Road Initiative. This reveals how the U.S. deep state handles its dealings with China and the increasing influence of China, particularly in economic terms, which is considered a significant strategic threat. Continuous efforts are being made to address this issue, taking all necessary measures to prevent any potential collision, at least for the time being.
What is noteworthy in the efforts to manage the conflicting interests between the world's two largest economies was the visit of former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to Beijing in late July 2023. During this visit, he met with the Chinese President and Minister of Defense.
It is worth mentioning that this approach did not yield significant results at the Arab-American Summit or the Saudi-American Summit, especially concerning the Middle East, China, and the Silk Road. One of the most notable outcomes was the American journalist shouts, asking Biden, “Is Saudi Arabia a pariah?”. Additionally, the symbolism captured in the commemorative photos documenting a period of ineffectiveness, lack of initiative, impact, and interaction that now seems to pervade the White House.
As much as the existence of a modern Saudi state is of utmost importance to Yemen, its stability, and its development, the presence of a modern Yemeni state with its recognized personality and legal entity is equally crucial for Saudi Arabia, its stability, and its development.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on the facts and arguments presented in this approach, it confirms the existence of a new Saudi vision with multiple dimensions—local, regional, and international—that aligns with the Chinese vision. Additionally, there are several preliminary steps in the process of extinguishing the fires in the region. At present, a valuable opportunity exists to address all deep-seated issues in our Arab region. This requires visionary leadership and initiative to undertake a historic transformation within the framework of the Silk Road Initiative in the Middle East.
From the perspective of national security, both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individually and collectively, find themselves in a state of intersecting interests, often due to natural factors that have inevitable consequences. Among these factors are the geopolitical implications of shared borders, both on land and at sea. In the realm of intertwined interests, both nations realize the high cost of instability in Yemen, making it an urgent priority to initiate a constructive process that starts with disabling subversion and sabotage operations within the context of the war and its preludes. It also involves bringing all Yemeni parties back to the path of future discussions leading to a stable Yemen that preserves the identity, existence, and dignity of the Yemeni people.
Within the framework of a clear vision of shared interests, fostering good neighborly relations can pave the way for integration and mutual benefits. One aspect of this can be seen in the Yemeni population contributing to Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 through Yemeni labor, which has played a significant role in the phases of construction and development in Saudi Arabia.
The mission of building constructive Yemeni-Saudi relations should not be limited to addressing urgent issues related to the ongoing war. It is crucial to acknowledge that accomplishing such a constructive relationship also entails addressing deep-rooted historical issues related to Yemeni-Saudi relations. All phases of work aimed at achieving this goal should be characterized by transparency and inclusiveness. This should ensure that all concerns, aspirations, reservations, guarantees, conditions, and demands, along with all elements and details of the Yemeni-Saudi relationship, are placed on the table. These should serve as sound inputs for establishing creative and fruitful relationships that aim to achieve common interests between the two countries. Beyond that, these relationships should strengthen the walls protecting both nations and their national security against any treacherous attacks from any party, under any circumstances.
If there is a conscious and enlightened will to shift from a state of reaction, as a response to undermining national security, to a state of thoughtful and carefully engineered response, it is the duty of Yemen and Saudi Arabia to create a new model for approaching peace issues. This should be shaped and managed by stakeholders themselves, with pure self-motivation, without the need for flawed United Nations mechanisms, even in their protocol and formal aspects. This can be achieved through an effective international institutional mechanism specific to Yemen, which can be built by Saudi-Chinese-Omani-Yemeni cooperation, leading an institutional response process effectively, under regional and international cover, with a creative vision inspired by the Marshall Plan and the initiatives of the BRICS group and the Silk Road. This approach should address issues related to ending the war, achieving peace, reaching a political settlement, political system and governance, reconstruction, human rights matters, and recovery, all within strict parameters that prevent any future landmines or disruptions.
As much as the existence of a modern Saudi state is of utmost importance to Yemen, its stability, and its development, the presence of a modern Yemeni state with its recognized personality and legal entity is equally crucial for Saudi Arabia, its stability, and its development.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that all ongoing operations within the framework of efforts to halt the war serve as precursors for achieving a historical Yemeni-Yemeni settlement that leads to the construction of a Yemeni state representing all Yemeni women and men and their aspirations. This state should be founded on principles of citizenship, justice, development, and the rule of law. It should serve as the basis for a Yemeni-Saudi historical settlement, with an emphasis on weaving all necessary guarantees to prevent any outcomes contrary to this objective.
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