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Yemen and the Perils of An International Mandate - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sanaa must be under various pressures. These pressures might help it in confronting its enemies. The new dangerous circumstances might be a rescue rope thrown to the Yemeni regime, because fighting its enemy with the largest guns in the world puts it in a stronger position. However, let us remember that every help has its price.

The attempt to blow up a US airliner last week has shifted the spotlight on Sanaa, which is now described as the new battlefield of the international war, and there are demands to interfere to hunt down Al-Qaeda.

The price is that Yemen might become like Afghanistan, under some kind of mandate. Currently, Afghanistan is under the mandate of NATO with the participation of the United Nations. Today, Iraq is partially under US mandate. However, Yemen will not be placed under a mandate of any kind unless the regime becomes threatened by defeat, and it is declared it has collapsed. Under the current circumstances this is not true.

It is clear that the regime is partially paralyzed, as some parts are divided between three groups hostile to Sanaa: The Iranian Huthis, Al-Qaeda, and the secessionist southerners. To these three groups a fourth one is added in the capital, Sanaa; this group lives on smuggling weapons, and it sells its services for money. The last group was a domestic problem in the past, but now it has become the subject of international surveillance, and the regime is urged to hunt it down and hold it to account, because it is linked to the regime and it is accused of facilitating the conveying of a great deal of equipment to the Huthis and to others.

Moreover, the Sanaa Government must feel satisfied with confronting its opponents, such as the imminent danger from the Iranian regime, which targets Yemen in an extraordinary way, not out of hostility to Yemen, but in order to establish an alternative regime subservient to Tehran, and the Huthis are a model of this. The issue now is no longer the problem of Sanaa alone, but it has gone beyond Al-Jawf and Al-Dukhan Mountains to the Saudi side, and now the threat has reached the airspace of the United States for the first time since the events of 11 September 2001.

If it is proved that Omar Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up the airliner over Detroit, has obtained his liquid bomb from Yemen, and he was directed from within Yemen in the same way as the failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Assistant Interior Minister Prince Muhammad Bin-Naif, this will show that Yemen has become the new terrorist laboratory, and not only a camp for the Al-Qaeda members.

Now Yemen includes Al-Qaeda leaders, planners, promoters, suicide volunteers, explosive experts, and electronic propaganda centers. Practically we are talking about a state for Al-Qaeda. This is an idea that frightens every one, and not only Saudi Arabia and the United States. Yemen has become infiltrated through is ports by the Iranians, and by the infiltrators from Somalia, which is the maritime neighbor, and Al-Qaeda feeds on the activities of its agents in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf who collect support and spread propaganda.

The question is: Does the Yemeni regime realize the depth of the dilemma in which it has fallen partially because of its old complacency with the tampering regional powers that want to exploit that regime? Does the regime realize that it needs to create a united front to confront the crisis, with all this means of objective and necessary concessions to secure its safety by dealing with all the unarmed powers that today might not agree with the Sanaa Government?

It is true that the United States and Saudi Arabia rush to help Sanaa, but the regime needs more than foreign help. Without a united Yemeni front the regime will be in a feeble position at both the domestic and foreign levels, and all the Yemenis – not only the regime – will be incapable of protecting their country from the conflicts that are settling in the country in a chronic way, and that exhaust every one.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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