Man, this video just gets more and more right with time. When I uploaded this one just over two months ago, it presented three reasons why Saudi Arabia should get the heck out of Yemen as soon as possible. Today I would add at least two more. First, the war is putting the safety and security of Saudi Arabia itself in more and more jeopardy by the day. Just a few weeks ago, the Yemenis pulled off history’s most devastating attack on Saudi oil infrastructure. This attack, and the indifference of world oil markets to it, both gravely undermine the Saudis. Over this past weekend, confused reports emerged that the Saudis may be losing large battles on or distressingly close to their own territory. Whether those reports are true or not, the fact that they can be believed should be terrifying to the Saudis.
There is an out from all of this. The Houthis are aware that their complete dominance of the battle space is actually a problem for them. If they push their advantage, and make real inroads in to Saudi territory, they could prompt a US response. They have proved their independence, and remain more interested in peace than the Saudis are. The Houthis have offered to cease attacks on Saudi territory, if the Saudis will agree to do the same. This is a real opportunity. So far, the Saudis have reacted by murdering a bunch of Yemeni families from the air. They should really start pursuing peace before it’s too late.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. Today’s video is a plea to the US and Saudi government’s to end the War in Yemen. I have made it clear that I am not a big fan of either government, but I do firmly believe that getting out, and getting out now isn’t just the best thing for the Saudi and US people, it’s even the best thing for the leaders in those two countries. Here are three reasons why.
The US Saudi coalition Lost.
The fact that Saudi Arabia has lost in Yemen isn’t even a question anymore. They invaded in 2015 to make Saleh and the Houthis bend the knee and four years later it is extraordinary how little progress they have made. As with other conflicts in the region this simple fact can be concealed by the way the conflict looks on a map.
Take this recently published depiction from the BBC for example. It looks like the Saudis are doing great. They control so much of the country that you need a smaller map to see the front lines. Unfortunately, as I explained two years ago, this is not a very good representation of Yemen’s reality.
Yemen had emerged from two separate and bloody histories as North and South Yemen. There’s one very important note here. These countries look to be similarly sized, but they are really not. South Yemen was mostly desert. Much of the population was centered around the port of Aden and other coastal regions. The population of the North has been consistently 5 to 6 times larger than the population of the south. The south has always had fewer people and it’s history of British colonialism and communism gave those people a very different perspective. This difference in population is important to remember when we eventually look at the front lines of Yemen’s current war in an upcoming video. After two years of fighting it may look like Saudi Arabia has made some real progress, but it population terms, they really haven’t.
In the two years since that clip, the map has not changed significantly. Saudi and US propagandists are fond of claiming that their coalition controls 70 or even 80 percent of Yemen’s territory. They are bragging about controlling largely empty desert.
Around 80% of Yemen’s people live in territory controlled by the Houthis. Pretty much the way it was 4 years ago. The one bright spot for the Saudi coalition over the past two years has been a push up the Western coast of Yemen to the Hodiedah port. The problem here is that this one bright spot was almost completely driven by the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, and…
The UAE is withdrawing.
At the beginning of last month, the United Arab Emirates announced that it was withdrawing its troops from Yemen, but it wasn’t exactly clear what that meant. It’s getting clearer. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s pet government was kicked even further out of the biggest Yemeni city they control.
Out of Yemen’s 5 biggest cities, Aden was the only one that the US-Saudi-UAE coalition has ever uncontested control over. But the southern separatists that really control Aden are UAE allies, not Saudi allies. Now that the UAE military forces are pulling out of Aden, full scale fighting has begun to break out again between Aden’s real owners, and Yemen’s internationally recognized Saudi based puppet government.
I actually think the recent fighting in this southern city has been blown out of proportion a bit. People who have been following Yemen seriously know that Southern separatists have been the real power in Aden from the beginning of the current conflict. The Saudi puppet government was almost violently thrown out of Aden back in early 2018 as well. I think more serious notice is being taken now because people in the US are finally beginning to look at this conflict more honestly.
And what they are seeing isn’t very pretty. Houthi power over Northern Yemen has gotten more solid. At the outset of the conflict they shared power with Yemen’s powerful old Dictator, Saleh. In late 2017 Saleh picked a fight with the Houthis and lost both his power and his life. The US-Saudi-UAE coalition is a mess. They rely on a range of local powerbrokers and war profiteers, and numerous parts of its coalition hate other parts. Despite warring on the Muslim Brotherhood in other countries, the Saudis work with them in Yemen, which the UAE doesn’t like. The Saudis are also working with a wide range of unsavory mercenaries, from Al Queda to Sudanese genocidaires and child soldiers. This coalition is only going to get more embarrassing and less effective without the UAE.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people in the North who hate the Houthis, and all kinds of tribal, political, economic, social and even military divisions between the 80+% of Yemenis who live in the North. But compared to their enemies the Houthis are infinitely more unified and in control, AND no matter what Mike Pompeo tells You, independent of outside influence.
There are many different factors behind the UAE withdrawal, from the need to bring forces home for a potential US war against Iran, to the sad fact that the UAE may have already met all its imperial goals in Yemen. But I think the most important factor is the defection of another major player in Yemen. The US Government.
The US government hates the war in Yemen
Donald Trump still supports the war in Yemen. He may be the only one. After years of work by activists, the US Congress has finally turned conclusively against the war in Yemen. Even a vital handful of uber Hawks and Trump supporting Republicans are now regularly voting against US participation in this war, and even against arms sales to Saudi Arabia if the war continues.
In April of this year both houses of Congress voted to utilize the seldom used War Powers Act to take the US out of the War in Yemen. Trump used the second veto of his presidency to block that motion. But in September the House and Senate will have to reconcile their versions of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Bill. Trump can’t veto that, and it’s almost certain to include some provisions against the Saudis and the US War.
So Trump and the Saudis have a losing war on their hands, plus one that the US Congress may be about to take away from them. The smart play is to get out ahead of this, the way The UAE just did. Abu Dhabi knows that all they have to do is remove this Yemen pain point, and Washington DC will happily go back to taking their bribes. Ending the war on Yemen has always been the right thing to do. Now it’s also the best thing for Saudi Arabia’s survival and Donald Trump’s kickbacks. Let’s make it happen.
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