The Houthi’s announcement of the reasons for not bombing the UAE as they do with Saudi Arabia came to shed light on the reasons for the convergence of the interests of the UAE and the Houthis, and the impact of this on Saudi Arabia’s position in the Yemen war.
It has been revealed The leader of the Houthi group, Muhammad Ali Al-HouthiThursday, March 18, 2021, on the reason for excluding the UAE from the group’s attacks, and focusing only on Saudi Arabia, saying that the leader of the group, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, sent to Abu Dhabi a message advising them to stop the Yemen war, indicating that the UAE announced its official withdrawal from the war in Yemen, As a result, it stopped targeting.
It is known that the UAE had withdrawn some of its forces from some areas, but it still retains its influence in specific areas, and confirms that it adheres to its obligations towards the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Rare attacks even at the height of the UAE’s participation in the Yemen war
Even before the UAE announced its formal withdrawal from Yemen, the Houthis rarely targeted Emirati lands with their attacks, which indicates that the interests of the UAE and the Houthis converged before Abu Dhabi’s withdrawal from Yemen.
Although the Houthis succeeded in conducting a missile test that would reach the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, the Houthi militia had not fired any missile since mid-2019 towards the UAE, and before that they carried out limited attacks, but with a significant moral impact on the UAE, including Attack on Abu Dhabi airport in 2018As the Houthis had previously announced in 2017 that they had bombed Barakah nuclear reactor in the UAE with a cruise missile.
On the other hand, the Houthis bombed Saudi territory with hundreds of missiles and drones over the years of the Yemeni war.
And it has already been put up Yassin Aktay, advisor to the Turkish presidentHe asked about the secret of the continued attacks against Saudi Arabia and the Houthis stopped attacking the UAE, alluding to the convergence of the interests of the UAE and the Houthis, or the existence of understandings between them.
Aktay said in an article published in the Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, in mid-August 2020: “The Houthis in Yemen, supported by Tehran directly, are directing their missiles towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh, while we have not seen a single Houthi missile directed towards the Emirates,” as he put it. .
The size of the clashes between the Houthis and between the UAE and its Yemeni allies was very small compared to the Houthi battles with Saudi Arabia and its allies and the Yemenis, who bore the brunt of the fighting.
I have already hinted UAE It reached understandings with the Houthi group, as the former UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, considered that the Houthis have a role in the future of Yemen.
In July 2019, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Naim Qassem, revealed the existence of secret communication channels between the Houthis and the UAE via Iran.
And he said “BlissIn an interview with the Al-Mayadeen channel, which is close to Hezbollah and Iran: “There are meetings taking place between officials from the UAE and Houthi officials to organize the steps of the Emirati withdrawal from Yemen.”
In fact, the reasons for the convergence of the interests of the Emirates and the Houthis are greater than the extent of Abu Dhabi’s participation in the war in Yemen, but greater than Yemen itself, and it is linked to the UAE’s view of the entire region and its latent and hidden network of relationship with the forces active in it.
The reasons for the convergence of the interests of the Emirates and the Houthis
Both of them support secession and are hostile to the legitimate government
The UAE tends to support the secession of the south from the north, even if it announces it, but its support for the separatists who articulate this demand is known.
This advances the interests of the Houthis, who actually control northern Yemen and have little influence or presence in the south.
Although the Houthis did not declare their support for the secession of the south or their intention to establish an independent state in the north, the reality of their policy indicates that they want to secede from the north or be monopolized by it in the best case, and thus the south will turn into a state or an international one that strengthens their project and leads to the convergence of the interests of the UAE and the Houthis.
In addition, the internationally recognized legitimate government backed by Saudi Arabia and which takes Aden, the capital of the south as a temporary headquarters, is a common enemy for both the Emirates and the Houthis, as well as for Abu Dhabi’s followers of the southern separatists.
The practices of the UAE and southern separatists towards this government, including attacks and arrests of its members, have weakened it in the face of the Houthis and helped them achieve victories in the northern front.
Dr. Abdul Baqi Shamsan, a professor of political sociology at Sana’a University, believes that there is a convergence of the interests of the UAE and the Houthis, as he believes that the Houthi strategy, even before the announcement of Abu Dhabi’s withdrawal, is based on the depletion of Saudi Arabia and the legitimate government in Yemen, in exchange for excluding the UAE from any military targeting even inside Yemeni territories.
Shamsan added to “Gulf Online“The UAE project in the southern regions in Yemen serves the Houthi project, given that the UAE’s targeting of the Yemeni legitimate authority leads to the creation of belts and hotbeds of conflict in the south, and leaves the Houthis to establish their authority in the northern regions.”
Hostility to the Islah party
The second element behind the convergence of the interests of the Emirates and the Houthis is the hostility of the two parties to the Yemeni Islamic Islah Party.
This party is the first enemy of the Houthis because it represents the largest popular component against the Houthi project in North Yemen, and the largest supporter of the legitimate government in Yemen in the north and south.
In addition, the Islah party has a large presence in the south (in fact it is the only major party that has an influential presence in the north and south). The party plays a role in confronting the disengagement project in the south, as well as strengthening the position of the legitimate government in facing the separatist attacks.
And do not hide UAE And its separatist allies, they are hostile to Islah in the south They targeted His symbols or Those close to himIn addition to the alliance with Extremist Salafi leaderships To face it.
And of course Abu Dhabi’s hostility to the Islah party Not only because of his support for the legitimate Yemeni government in the face of the separatists loyal to the Emirates, but also because of his Islamic political authority, and because it considers him close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Competition with the Saudi ally
Although the UAE is supposed to have entered Yemen to support Saudi Arabia in the first place, the reality is different.
First, the scale of the widespread Emirati intervention in Yemen and its material and human cost cannot be solely for the sake of helping Saudi Arabia, no matter how close the relationship between the two countries is.
The second matter is that the UAE’s approach to Yemen after its entry into it was aimed at creating its own spheres of influence, weakening the legitimate government backed by Riyadh, and searching for followers of the Emirates away from Saudi influence, such as separatists, some Salafi groups, or the son of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In fact, most of the Emirati military effort was devoted to creating its own areas of influence, whether by seizing areas occupied by the Houthis, as happened in Aden and some attempts in Hodeidah, or penetrating into areas that the Houthis did not reach while exploiting the preoccupation of the Saudis to fill the void.
But the worst was the expulsion of the legitimate government forces allied to Riyadh from some areas and handing them over to the Southern Movement.
The relationship of the UAE with Saudi Arabia was a mixture of cooperation and competition with the latter’s predominance, especially after the failure of the Emiratis in their project to expel the Houthis from the city of Hodeidah.
Indeed, the time and effort that the Emiratis and their allies have made in fighting Saudi Arabia’s allies in Yemen, especially in the south, is much greater than what they have devoted to fighting the Houthis.
Search for common Emirati interests with Iran
The fourth motive behind the convergence of the interests of the Emirates and the Houthis, (which plays a role in the policy of the entire Emirates in the region), is the ambiguous relationship of the UAE with Iran, the first (and almost only) supporter of the Houthis, as well as Iranian interests with the Emirates, such as the presence of a large Iranian community there, and the fact that the UAE, especially Dubai, is a home For large Iranian investments, and a point of contact between besieged Tehran and the world.
In addition, there are close trade relations between the two countries, as it is the UAE Tehran’s largest Arab trade partner, with trade exchange between them amounting to $ 13 billion in 2017.
Although the UAE is the only Arab countries that Iran occupies part of its territory, specifically the three Emirati islands located in one of the most important waterways in the world, and although the UAE is part of the Gulf alliance that fears Iran, whether for national, sectarian or political reasons, and accuses it of interfering in the internal affairs of the Gulf. And the threat of the unity of the countries of the region.
The reality is that the UAE’s policy is dominated by understanding and coordination with Iran, even after Tehran has struck Emirati targets in operations that seem ambiguous, but everyone knows their source, as happened in Fujairah attack in 2019.
But the UAE sent after these attacks and at the height of the Saudi-American tension with Iran Security delegations to Tehran.
The Fujairah operation is a watershed point in the relationship with the Iranian axis
“The Emirati and Iranian projects in the region are parallel, which leads to the convergence of the interests of the Emirates and the Houthis,” says Yemeni writer and political analyst Adel Dashila.
In this regard, he pointed out that the dialogue that took place between the Emiratis and the Iranians after the Fujairah bombings in May 2019, “was the beginning of an end to any tension between the UAE and the Houthis, as Abu Dhabi has not been subjected to any attacks since that time, even on its forces inside Yemeni territory.”
He confirms to “Gulf Online“The understandings between Iran and the UAE” have pressured the Houthi movement so that it now targets only Saudi Arabia.
However, the appearance of the greater and strangest rapprochement between the two countries appears in Syria, where the UAE no longer conceals its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is part of the Iranian-led Shiite alliance, despite Assad’s close relationship with Hezbollah, which targets Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Emirati support was evident in the call The phone made by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with Assad last yearAnd he announced that his goal is to help Syria fight the Corona pandemic, (although Damascus was saying at the time that the spread of the virus was limited).
But it turned out that the goal of the call was the UAE’s offer to Assad to provide 3 billion dollars in exchange for spoiling the ceasefire that was concluded with Russian mediation with Turkey in Idlib, according to the website. Middle East Eye Britain in April 2020.
This position shows that the UAE is ignoring its basic contradiction with Iran, which occupies Emirati territory and is carrying out, through its allies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, a sectarian cleansing against millions of Arabs (It actually changed the demographic balance of Syria).
On the other hand, the UAE is ready to reach an understanding with Iran and its allies because its priority is hostility to the Arab Spring, democracy, moderate political Islam and the Turkish-Qatari axis, bearing in mind that it does not show the same sensitivity with the Salafists, which are matters that are quite clear in the case of Yemen, and have helped the interests of the UAE and the Houthis converge. over there.
But the major problem is that this Emirati approach in Yemen has severely harmed the UAE’s largest and closest ally, which is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is still faltering in resolving the war, and its territories are exposed to Houthi missile attacks and marches that may not be militarily effective but are politically embarrassing.
On the other hand, the UAE still maintains its influence in Yemen far from the battle with the Houthis, and is immune to their attacks and the negative reputation of this devastating war that only harms Riyadh.