February 1, 2022

The Strategic Value of Yemen And The Need For A Regional Understanding

An excerpt from, "Yemen and the Curse of Geography: Bab al-Mandab Disputed by Great Power Rivalries" by Ammar Al Ashwal, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, May 18, 2021:

In his book The Revenge of Geography, political and military expert Robert Kaplan described Yemen as an “all important heart,” attributing its instability to its strategic location and its topography. Kaplan’s opinion is seemingly supported by the raging conflicts currently taking place on ground.

Strategically located on the Bab al-Mandab strait, Yemen has long been at the center of regional geopolitics. The strait separates Yemen and Djibouti, and Asia from Africa, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The strait is 30 kilometers (KM) wide and is divided into two channels by Perim Island; the western channel is 26 KM wide and 30 meters deep, and the eastern is 3 KM wide and 310 meters deep.

This famous gateway has witnessed various wars, conflicts, and struggles throughout its history, like the 1973 blocked of Iranian oil tankers headed to Israel during the October war. Bab al-Mandab’s significance drastically increased upon the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which led to growth in the volume of international maritime trade. Its significance rose again following the discovery of oil in the Arabian Peninsula and the rise of trade from East Asia. The vital waterway is now a major artery of globalization as it connects Europe to the Indian Ocean and East Africa.

An excerpt from, "How Did We Get Here? The Yemeni Crisis and What Wasn’t Done To Avoid It" By Shreyas Pingle, Glimpse from the Globe, October 21, 2020:

"With Iran and Yemen situated on both of the two main chokepoints of the world’s most popular oil route, the strategic value of Yemen’s position remains invaluable to whoever holds sway in the country. 

. . .

Prior to Saudi intervention, Yemen’s civil war was likely going to end quickly in a Houthi victory, when Saudi Arabia and the UAE interpreted this impending win to be a threat to their hegemony in the region and invaded to maintain the geopolitical status quo, which had lost support even with many Yemeni Sunnis. By 2018, the Saudi blockade of Yemen created a massive famine that malnourished 18 million civilians and precipitated appalling humanitarian conditions in the region."

Saudi Arabia and UAE, backed by America, England, and Israel, have been waging a brutal and illegal siege on the poor nation of Yemen for years. 

Now, Yemen is finally fighting back by striking inside both oil fiefdoms. 

The wretched rulers of these warmongering lands don't have the stomach for a long and protracted war. Wealth has made them soft. U.S. promises have made them delusional. Sooner or later they will come to the negotiating table.

At an earlier point in the war they thought their victims would just lay there and take the beating quietly but Yemen has shown itself to be capable of self-defense. Its counter strikes against the Saudis and UAE have been audacious. And they don't need to inflict massive damage on these weak societies before they start to recalculate their war because their collective pain threshold is far less than the Yemenis.

If the United States was a wise and intelligent empire it would not have sided with the degenerate princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE against the people of Yemen. That was a political miscalculation because historically speaking they are not the natural leaders of the Arab and Muslim world. They are nothing more than a greedy clan of thoughtless cowards who got lucky and struck gold with oil. They will lose any real war badly.

But they are not the only sharks circling Yemen. Turkey, Iran, and Israel each want a piece of Yemen. And they will tear apart the country to bones and ashes in their vain quest.

A broad-based, high-minded, and mutually beneficial regional understanding is needed to bring peace and stability to Yemen. The days of foreign rule and imperial jockeying are in the past. 

The ambitious regimes in Israel, Turkey, and Iran have to put the greater good and collective peace ahead of foolish rivalries for once. Yemen is too important for one power or allliance to rule.

Again, if the U.S. was a real leader in this part of the world, it would try to bring these countries together, even if they came kicking and screaming. But instead it has greatly contributed to the devastation of Yemen, and increased the suffering of Yemenis unnecessarily.