The Battle for Aden or the radicalization of Southern Arabia

545345422If from the onset of the war on Yemen back in March 25, Saudi Arabia unilaterally proclaimed its desire to “liberate” the country from under the influence of the Houthis to restore, Yemen’s political legitimacy in the person of once-resigned-twice-runaway President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Al Saud Royals most certainly failed to mention that their real agenda lied in opening up Yemen to a radical takeover.

For those who continue to be under the illusion that this war in Yemen aims to curtail the so-called Shia crescent and thus moderate Iran rising influence in the Middle East and most particularly the Arabian Peninsula, make no mistake, war capitalists only seek one thing – plant terror seed and watch it generate millions of dollars.

For neo-imperialists the world over, there is more money to be made in chaos than in peace. And since instability and extremism have so far played in perfect harmony with America’s war-mongering, acting a tidy self-fulfilling prophecy of horrors and bloodshed, while justifying military interventionism, why stop the train at Iraq and Syria?

Puppets in the hands of imperial America, Al Saud have too, fallen victim of their own political paranoia, prisoners of the evil upon which they weaved the seat of their powerhouse and regal legitimacy – Wahhabism.

The ideological fountainhead of what western powers call “Islamic radicalism”, Wahhabism has become a growing infestation within the kingdom, one calling and longing for a grand sectarian crusade against its self-designated enemy: Shia Islam.

And because Yemen had the gall to reject Riyadh diktat, preferring instead to join the nascent non-aligned pan-Arab resistance movement, the impoverished nation has found itself in the midst of a furious storm. Yemen conflict is of course multi-layered and multi-dimensional. Yemen’s geography and its natural resources for example have long been the source of much envy and it would be missing a piece of the puzzle to refuse to acknowledge their role within this equation of war.

Beyond the desire to control Yemen’s inner riches and transform its territory into yet another base in this grand globalization game, let’s not underplay the role of the black plague – ISIS, in furthering this covert agenda.

One look at Saudi Arabia’s battle-plan in Yemen offers an interesting perspective; betraying the kingdom’s foremost strategic goals.

If one were to assume that the kingdom is indeed intent on crushing the Houthis where they stand and reintroduce King Salman’s political pawn: Hadi, then why concentrate so much firepower in south Yemen, where the group has only limited traction? Why turn Aden, the former capital of South Yemen, into one of the main frontline of this war?

Up until now most experts have argued Saudi Arabia sought to disrupt any potential Iranian aid toward Yemen, sealing the country’s coastline to the outside world to better suffocate the Resistance. And though such an analysis is perfectly valid, it leaves out a darker and far more troubling design – the annexation of Yemen by ISIS legions.

Unlike north Yemen which has always resisted against Al Qaida’s radical views due to its Zaidi heritage, southern Yemen has proven much more receptive to Wahhabism and its sister in terror, Salafism. Within this context the battle for Aden makes much more sense.

Military sources allied to the Houthis in Aden have already confirmed that an ever-increasing flow of weapons has poured into the city, unchecked and unchallenged because of the fluidity of the conflict. Those weapons, officers from the disbanded Republican Guards have already warned, have gone straight to Al Qaida sleeping cells.

Countless pre-war security reports have long established that ahead of Aden planned takeover radicals militants infiltrated Aden and several neighboring provinces, waiting for leadership to ring the hour. And while many assumed the head of the snake to be in Abyan (southern Yemeni province), where Al Qaida once claimed its own caliphate (2012); what if all missed the writing on the wall? What if leadership is indeed sitting in Riyadh, using a western-sanctioned military intervention in southern Arabia to accomplish what it could not before?

Are we suppose to believe that Al Qaida simply crawled under a rock all those months, waiting for the war clouds to clear before staging a comeback? Would it not be more accurate to assume that Al Qaida far from disappearing, actually integrated the war alongside its patron: Saudi Arabia?

Interestingly it was former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who first presented such hypothesis to his countrymen, arguing Riyadh would claim democracy-building to plot the invasion of Yemen and break the country’s defenses.

And though most pinned such revelations down to Saleh’s desire to rally support back to his side, the veteran politician undeniably shun a light onto the underbelly of this conflict.

Yemen’s war is not just a conflict of political legitimacies or even natural resources – it is about the subjugation of southern Arabia to the rule of terror.

Let us remember with which fervor Riyadh pounded at Yemen’s military infrastructures over the past months, how it laid waste weapon depots and bases across all provinces, reducing the country’s entire defense capabilities to rubbles.

Al Saud aimed not just to crush the Houthis, it ambitioned to open Yemen up to a ground invasion and leave its people defenseless before ISIS hordes – a repeat of Iraq’s debacle.

And if many Yemenis are still under the grand illusion that the Houthis are indeed the enemies, they would do well to learn from the lessons of Iraq and Syria before they find themselves shackled hand and foot by ISIS armies.

As it currently stands Yemen is all but spent by months of an implacable Saudi-led and western-organized maritime blockade. With famine looming and social instability at an ultimate high, what resistance will the people of Yemen offer to the black flag should it decide to invade?

Catherine Shakdam is the Associate Director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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