Fighting between their allies in southern Yemen has opened a gaping wound in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ coalition against the country’s rebels. If they can’t fix it, it threatens to tear the country apart into even smaller warring pieces. Last week saw a stunning escalation in the turmoil in the south, as Emirati warplanes blasted fighters loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi — the man the coalition is supposed to be trying to restore to power. Dozens were killed, and the UAE rubbed salt in the wound by calling Hadi’s forces “terrorists.” Hadi’s loyalists call the strike a “turning point” and accuse the UAE of fomenting a coup by its allied militias to topple his government and seek secession in the south. In August, the militias overran Aden and other southern cities, driving out Hadi’s forces in bloody fighting. When they tried to expand into oil-rich Shabwa province, the Saudis rushed supplies to Hadi’s forces to drive them back. With U.S. backing, Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched their coalition in 2015 to fight the Iran-backed Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who had seized the capital, Sanaa, and large parts of the country. The coalition vowed to stop what it considers an Iranian takeover attempt. The ensuing civil war has killed tens of thousands, driven millions from their homes, destroyed the country and thrown much of the population into near starvation. Yet four years later, the Houthis remain in control of much of
“Both countries reaffirm their keenness to preserve the Yemeni state and the interests, security, stability, independence and territorial integrity of the Yemeni people under the leadership of the legitimate president of Yemen, and to counter the coup of the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia and other terrorist organizations,” the statement said.
A leaked UAE intelligence document shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been pursuing a “strategic plan” aimed at weakening the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has adopted a tough position against Riyadh over the state-sponsored assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Entitled “Monthly Report on Saudi Arabia, Issue 24, May 2019,” the confidential document was written by the Emirates Policy Centre and obtained by the Middle East Eye news portal. It revealed that bin Salman had decided to confront Turkey following the murder of Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of the heir to the Saudi throne — by a Saudi hit team inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018. Ankara has been pressing the Saudis, in vain, to cooperate in a probe into the crime, which Erdogan says has been ordered by the highest ranks of authorities in Riyadh. The CIA has concluded that bin Salman had ordered the murder of Khashoggi — who had been brutally dismembered inside Riyadh’s mission. According to the leaked document, the Saudi scheme involves mounting pressure on Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, slashing Saudi investment in Turkey and sidelining Ankara in issues of the Muslim world. The plan would use “all possible tools to pressure Erdogan’s government, weaken him, and keep him busy with domestic issues in the hope that he will be brought down by the opposition, or occupy him with confronting crisis after crisis, and push him to slip up and make mistakes which
“The rising death toll of civilians killed by Saudi bombs in Yemen, the horrific slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and Riyadh’s aggressive approach to the Iran crisis have led some of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies to reconsider their unwavering support for the kingdom,” the report said.