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Little Saddam? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran is strange; its animosity towards regional states does not stop at a certain point. A few days ago the Iranian President attacked Saudi Arabia and today media bodies affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are attacking Yemen and President Ali Abdullah Saleh in particular, describing him as ‘Little Saddam.’ Is this a passing media campaign or does it reveal Iran’s real intentions in our region, towards Saudi Arabia and Yemen in particular?

It is clear that the Iranian attack on Yemen and its president is more than just abuse in the media and goes further than an attempt to defend the Huthis; the Iranian repetition of the expression ‘little Saddam’ in reference to the Yemeni President is evidence of the amount of animosity Iran harbors towards Yemen as a state. Moreover, it considers Yemen’s unity an obstacle to expanding on Saudi borders, just like it is doing now in Iraq.

The attacks on Yemen today, whilst it combats the Huthis and challenges Al Qaeda and the separatists in the south, is proof that Iran is seeking to destroy the Yemeni state with all its might in the hope that it would gain a foothold on the Saudi borders via the Huthis. It [Iran] would do this in the same way it did with Hezbollah in south Lebanon, which, under various pretexts, it turned into an army that is more powerful than the Lebanese army, and used it to serve its objectives in the region, or in the same way [that Iran] penetrated Iraq via groups and militias or even political fronts after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. This gave it a free rein in that country.

Tehran is not enthusiastic about Yemen’s safety and unity inasmuch as it is keen on upsetting stability there, and breaking up efforts to help Yemen with its internal problems or with the Huthis and Al Qaeda. As a result Iran is not only helping the Huthis but also the Al Qaeda regime because merely preoccupying the Yemeni government in the way Iran is doing – and despite the fact that the Yemenis avoided accusing Iran of supporting the Huthis for a long time – can be considered clear evidence that Tehran is seeking to upset the security situation and destabilize Yemen.

Iran is doing all of this, and as we have mentioned before, it resembles a game of chess to a great extent, as the ultimate goal is to besiege Saudi Arabia from all of its border points. The one explanation for Iran’s media attacks on all levels whether on Saudi Arabia or Yemen and its president, is the Iranian feeling of real failure in achieving its goals whether in Lebanon or in Yemen, and the marginalization of Iran on the diplomatic and political levels in the region in comparison to important, influential and clear Saudi action on the regional and international levels.

Therefore, the Iranian attacks on the Yemeni president are not just a media campaign insofar as these attacks are a clear indication of Iran’s lack of enthusiasm towards Yemeni unity and independence. It is also evidence of Iran’s frustration due to Iranian setbacks on the regional and international levels, as all Tehran’s diplomatic actions are subject to failure, not to mention the events that are taking place internally in Iran, as it has become clear that the Ahmadinejad regime and those behind it are facing a challenge on the daily basis that is weakening them at home and decreasing their significance abroad. Therefore, the issue is more than just an Iranian media campaign against Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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