June 22, 2019


Yemen escalation: Why Houthis ramp up attacks on Saudi Arabia (Maysam Behravesh , 6/22/19, Al Jazeera)

Over the past four years, since the beginning of Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen in March 2015, the conflict in the poorest Arab nation has gone through various phases, with calamitous consequences for Yemeni civilians.

However, in recent weeks, Houthi attacks against military and civilian targets within Saudi territory have markedly escalated, which notably coincided with amplifying pressure from the United States and its allies on Iran, a key regional supporter of Yemen's Houthis.

The surge in Houthi attacks may be aimed at showing the US and its allies that any conflict between them and Iran risks igniting a regional war, analysts told Al Jazeera. Others see the attacks as asymmetric retaliation against US regional allies by Tehran, which lacks the economic or diplomatic power to punish Washington in response to US-led sanctions and "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

In American terms, it's not really a tough call between Houthi self-determination and Saudi Wahhabism.

The view is, of course, the opposite from the Right, where the oppression of Arabs is seen as an unmitigated good: The Saudi-UAE axis has destabilising plans beyond the Gulf: Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are putting their bets on Trump's re-election (Ali Bakeer, 20 Jun 2019, Al Jazeera)

As the situation in the Middle East continues to escalate, with Iran and the US-Saudi axis trading accusations over sabotaged vessels in the Gulf, Qataris quietly marked two years of living under siege.

Although the land, sea and air blockade the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed on Qatar in June 2017 has taken a backseat because of the Iranian crisis, the confrontation at its heart has by far not diminished.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi continue lobbying against Doha on international platforms and are showing no sign of easing their economic siege. This became apparent once again at the three summits the Saudi king hosted in Mecca last month, to which Qatar was invited.

During the proceedings, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said a solution to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis would only be possible if Doha goes back to the "right path" - that is, if it heeds to the Saudi and Emirati regional agenda.

Despite having failed to subdue their neighbour thus far, both Abdu Dhabi and Riyadh seemingly believe that hostile measures can still yield the desired outcome. Their persistence with the blockade is part of their larger plan to establish regional hegemony in the long term. The success of their plan, however, is very much wedded to US President Donald Trump securing a second term.

Posted by at June 22, 2019 6:29 AM