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Yemen, The Perfect Storm Of Middle East Peril

Shia militiamen, Sunni clans, al-Qaida, Iran and Saudi Arabia all have their hands in the rapidly shifting sands of the poorest state in the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is everybody's business.

Houthi fighters in Sana'a, Yemen
Houthi fighters in Sana'a, Yemen
Paul-Anton Krüger

The palace has fallen. The fighters of the Houthi militia have occupied the presidential seat in Sana'a. This is the last symbolic act of a virtually creeping coup in Yemen that began last September, when 30,000 people came north from their ancestral territories to overrun the capital.

Not a single member of Parliament in President Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s cabinet would dare to sign a decree without a representative of the Houthi militia having first given their consent. And if this does happen (as in the case of Hadi’s chief secretary suggesting a new draft of the constitution), the militia reacts with threats and brazen kidnappings. The internationally accepted government is not capable of fulfilling its role.

Free passage

The passivity of Hadi and the advance of Shia troops forced Sunni clans in the south to take their protection into their own hands. Not every battle between Sunnis and Houthis is accompanied by al-Qaida fighters, but the clans tend to grant them free passage across their territories.

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Yemeni President Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi — Photo: U.S. Defense Department

The government is powerless against the jihadists as the loyalty of the military has been shattered, with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh still pulling the strings. The drone attacks of American forces against jihadist squads has not mortally wounded the terrorists on the Arabian Peninsula. Quite the opposite: It may have even created an inlet for supporters.

What is happening today in Yemen is actually the calm before the storm. Although the worst-case scenario may yet be prevented, this is what could happen: a country torn in half, with the southern part turning into a refuge for Sunni jihadists and the northern part becoming a reincarnation of the Shia Zaidi Imamate that ruled the North for thousands of years until the revolution in 1961.

Many in the south of the country hope for separation with the aid of other Gulf States, under the lead of Saudi Arabia. The north would find a willing protector and supporter in Iran.

Most of the Gulf States see the Houthi militia as an extension of Iran, financed, armed and governed by Tehran. There is no conclusive evidence to prove this but, as it is often the case in politics, perception winds up driving reality.

Riyadh retreat

It seems certain that there is some sort of connection between the Houthi command and Tehran as well as between the Houthi and Hezbollah militia of Lebanon — an ally of Iran. The rise of the Houthi militia is explained less by the increase of Iran’s interests than by the retreat of Saudi Arabia.

When the Muslim Brotherhood was disgraced in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh withdrew its support for certain Sunni Islam Parties and their families. They, therefore, lost a significant amount of influence and are now devoid of a partner in Yemen.

The Houthis gained support beyond their general base through their popular demands. The geopolitical and religious dimensions of this conflict complicate efforts to find a solution to what was initially a local struggle. Should Saudi Arabia deny funds to Yemen to prevent money falling into Houthi hands, then the poorest of the countries in the Arabian world would be at risk of total collapse. Many Yemenis already suffer from starvation.

The West has no other choice but to trust in the mediation efforts of the United Nations. Financial aid — inextricably linked to clearly defined goals as part of the program of interim measures, agreed upon in September — is worth the consideration of top American and European leaders.

Much is at stake in this seemingly distant land. Let us not forget that the Paris attack of Charlie Hebdo was carried out in the name of al-Qaida in Yemen.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

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These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

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