The war in Yemen as a rite of passage

Rami G. Khouri writes: The Saudi-led war in Yemen is one of the most dangerous and paradoxical developments in the region in recent decades. The six-month conflict continues to intensify and attract troops from other Arab countries, threatening to exacerbate violence and insecurity across the Middle East.

The war in Yemen is a rite of passage for members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are asserting their power and the maturity of their statehood by launching a war against a weaker neighbor. It is equally driven by their exaggerated but nonetheless real fear of growing Iranian influence in the region. The Saudis were especially terrified of being surrounded by Iran’s involvement in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and finally in Yemen, given Tehran’s links with the Houthis.

Half a year into the war, the risks of this venture are just becoming clear for the Saudis and their allies. The aerial bombings that began in March have failed to wrest back control of all Yemen from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who late last year swept into Sana’a and dissolved the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Saudi Arabia and its multi-nation coalition are expected to launch ground operations, which could threaten and burden the region for years. This may also increase local and global terrorism threats by providing Al-Qaeda with a substantial territorial base similar to that of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). [Continue reading…]

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