Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
For decades Yemen has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Those who are well-versed with the history of this impoverished Arab country know that Yemen has been facing one problem after the other.
During the past decades, Yemen received tens of billions of dollars in direct financial aid by countries like Saudi Arabia. That monetary assistance was meant to help Yemenis build their country’s civic infrastructure and help them resolve their problems. Yemeni expatriates living in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere reportedly send huge amounts of money to their home country as remittances. Unfortunately, those foreign remittances also failed to improve the conditions of Yemen where the civic infrastructure remained in tatters and Yemenis continued to long for amenities.
When we write about Yemen and its social problems, we cannot ignore Qat. Yemenis are known for spending huge amounts of money on their addiction to Qat. Those who don’t know about Qat should log on to Wikipedia, which tells us that it is a slow-growing shrub or tree that typically attains a height of between 1 meter and 5 meters. However, it can reach heights of up to 10 meters in equatorial areas. The plant usually grows in arid environments. Qat is undoubtedly the worst enemy of the Yemenis.
These days Yemen is once again in the news. We all know about the Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition’s military intervention in Yemen that was initiated to help Yemenis escape the clutches of Iran-backed Houthi militia, to ensure territorial integrity of Yemen and to foil Iranian attempts aimed at destabilizing Saudi Arabia through its proxies in Yemen.
Recently, the coalition forces mistakenly attacked a funeral in Sanaa after receiving incorrect information from Yemeni military figures that armed Houthi leaders were hiding in the area.
It was, indeed, tragic. The strike wasn’t intended or planned to kill innocent people. Saudi Arabia or the Saudis cannot even think about harming Yemen and Yemenis. Saudi Arabia has always remained Yemen’s closest and most-trusted ally. Riyadh has always made efforts to ensure security, stability and prosperity of Yemen. Saudi Arabia never wanted this conflict. It has been imposed on the country. Riyadh left no stone unturned to find a peaceful solution to the Yemeni problem but the Houthis never kept their promises and created more problems at the behest of Iran.
In the wake of the funeral incident, Saudi Arabia showed its willingness to treat the injured. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman had directed to provide the injured people with all possible care. This is something that not many countries do in such situations.
Ironically, all the chaos in Yemen is caused by the Houthis. It is ragtag militia, which does not represent the Yemenis. It is only trying to impose its will on the majority of Yemenis and working to promote Iranian interests in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia was compelled to take military action in Yemen. The conflict in Yemen can only be resolved by honest and patriotic Yemenis. It is the Yemenis who can save Yemen from the ongoing chaos. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is the only country, which is on the verge of completely running out of water. And we all know what happens in the absence of water resources.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its campaign only after all efforts to neutralize the threats posed by the Houthis. There were many confirmed reports about the Houthis amassing along the Saudi borders. Such a situation is not acceptable to any country.
One thing has become evident that the Houthis are not sincere with their country and countrymen. They are just puppets in the hands of Iran, which is using them for its vested interests. Had they been sincere with Yemen, they would not have violated the cease-fire even once.
Saudi Arabia has done more than any other country to help Yemen keep moving in times of trouble. Even after the start of the conflict, Saudi Arabia continues to offer generous assistance to the Yemenis, which shows that the military action is not against Yemen or Yemenis but a handful of Houthis who are operating with the support of foreign powers.
A large number of Yemeni expatriates live in the Kingdom. Yemenis are found working in almost every sphere of life. They don’t face any discrimination. They and their families are living comfortably in the Kingdom and enjoy all the privileges available to people of other nationalities.
I would like to conclude this article by offering my condolences to the families of the fallen Saudi soldiers and to the loved ones of those innocent Yemenis who lost their lives in the tragic attack on the funeral.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. A Conflict We Never Wanted reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.