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Opinion: King Salman’s Decisive Offer | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz attends the Arab League summit in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on March 28, 2015. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

“At this time, when we did not wish to take this decision [the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen], we wish to emphasize that Riyadh is still leaving the door open to all Yemeni political factions still willing to protect the country’s security and stability.”

It was in this manner, during his speech on Saturday at the Arab League summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz deftly summed up Saudi Arabia’s position regarding the current crisis in Yemen.

This has always been the Kingdom’s stance on a number of issues since the country’s founding in 1933 by King Abdulaziz Al Saud. Saudi Arabia is not a warmongering nation, but one which has always sought, and will continue to seek, peace throughout the region and beyond.

As for the Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi movement and its militias, they are continuing their “aggression against the Yemeni people and the legitimate political power in the country, threatening the security of the entire region,” as King Salman also said during his speech. There was no choice but war given this blatant aggression by the Houthis, but Saudi Arabia continues to leave the door open to the movement should it wish to seek peace and dialogue.

The goals of the Saudi-led offensive against the Houthis in Yemen, otherwise known as “Operation Decisive Storm,” are to put an end to Houthi aggression and the movement’s occupation of Yemen’s capital Sana’a, and to restart the country’s political road map as per the outcomes of the Gulf Initiative. (The Houthis swapped those outcomes for new ones when they signed the so-called “Peace and Partnership” agreement with Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi following their takeover of the capital last September; but they failed to uphold this agreement almost immediately.)

In any case if the above conditions are met the current military offensive against the Houthis and their allies in Yemen will cease. The movement is more than capable of bringing this about at virtually any time—whether today, tomorrow, or even next week. What a situation! Your very enemy in the war is giving you the opportunity to stop it at any time you wish—despite them being the stronger party in this case—and yet you insist on continuing the conflict. In the end the war will stop once the aforementioned objectives are met, and after the Houthis’ power, which they have used to bully the Yemeni people, has been obliterated, and their strongholds destroyed. After that, they will have nothing with which they can impose their will on the Yemeni people ever again.

In time, history will remember that this Arab-wide, Saudi-led offensive not only saved Yemen, but also the entire Arabian Peninsula from the divisive, insidious efforts of Iran, which has used sectarian tensions to sow discord throughout the entire region.

Sunnis and Shi’ites in the Gulf have lived for decades in peace and harmony; they did not know any of this current atmosphere before Khomeinism came on the scene in Iran. Since then, and year after year, Tehran has been using its cells in the region—both those sleeping and awake—to interfere in Arab interests directly, in a way that could only be described as shameful. Yemen, where Zaydi Shi’ites and Shafi’ite Sunnis lived side-by-side for centuries, knew nothing of sectarian discord before Iran began its meddling. Look at any problem in the region, and there you will always find Iran.

Riyadh, on the other hand, despite leading this latest offensive, neither wants war nor is seeking to benefit from it. And if the world’s countries did not respect and appreciate Saudi Arabia’s policies and pivotal role in the region, they would never have offered it this unprecedented support during this time. The international community is fully aware that Riyadh seeks nothing from this offensive except the security and stability of Yemen and the region—nothing less and nothing more.

“We wish to hear the voice of reason, we wish to see a stop to the seeking of foreign support to bully and abuse the Yemeni people, we wish to see an end to the stoking of sectarian tensions.” The words of King Salman once again.

But do the Houthis listen to the voice of reason? Have they stopped seeking support from Iran? Have they stopped bullying and terrorizing the people of Yemen? Have they ceased their divisive sectarian agenda?

The ball is now firmly in the Houthis’ court. They can stop all this at any time they want.