Israeli study points to Yemen as site of proxy confrontation between Iran, Gulf and the west
The study, conducted by Joel Sokolsky from the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, suggests that Hadi’s recent campaign against Al-Qaeda has seen considerable success.
The study indicated that the cooperation and coordination between Yemen and Washington has largely increased since Hadi took the helm; many suspected terrorists have been killed through drone strikes.
American support for Yemen has increased considerably in order to boost the fight against Al-Qaeda, the study said. However, it notes that “The Washington administration should not deliver support directly to military units which contradict the central government. The previous fighting attempts against Al-Qaeda proved unsuccessful though the soldiers are American-trained. The reason is that the soldiers took advantage of the training for their self interest and no more.”
With respect to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the study said that the organization has exploited general instability in Yemen in order to expand its control in many of the country’s governorates. It indicated that Ansar Al-Sharia still control several rebel districts.
The study noted that Yemen is the sole Arab country that has experienced the ‘Arab Spring’ despite such continuous civil strife.
The study pointed out that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure from Yemen has not improved the situation; on the contrary, it has sparked further tensions. “The so-called the Yemeni Revolution has not helped to strengthen the country. Instead, it has caused greater disintegration.”
The study concluded that the upcoming months will be pivotal for Yemen. “We will know whether the Islamists will be able to take control of Change Square in Sana’a, and how the national dialogue is going to take place which aims to shape a new constitution.”
Sokolsky went on to state that the effective powers in the Yemen each have particular agendas, driving them to seek external powers in order to improve the situation within the country. Thus, Yemen is an arena of confrontation due to its geopolitical position between Iran and Al-Qaeda on one side and the west and the Gulf Initiative on the other.
“The revolution emboldened Iran to double its political and military intervention through the opposition. This has been especially notable with the Houthis who are affiliated with Shiite sect,” he continued.
The prime purpose of the Iranian interference is to destabilize and hinder the central government from controlling the entire land of Yemen, according to the researcher.
He added that “the Houthis obtain the lion’s share of Iranian support including training by Al-Quads Power which follows the Iranian Republican Guard. There is information that indicates the involvement of Hezbollah in the training.”
With regard to the military support provided by Tehran, Sokolsky said that “the weapons are not as sophisticated as Yemen’s weapons. However, these arms help Iran to foster its political impact and gain more ground.”
Saudi Arabia is worried about the increasing interference of Iran in the region, and particularly in Yemen. The former considers the latter as a major political foe in the Middle East.
The study affirmed that Iran intends, through its interference, to send a message that no regional political solutions could be reached without its involvement.