WHEN the world turned its back on Yemen in 2011, the Yemenis were left with only the GCC countries to rescue them by laying down a mechanism to resolve the crisis that enveloped their country and to wipe out the cup of civil war from their lips. The war hardly ended when the Iranian-backed Houthi coup occurred, making the intervention of the Saudi-led Gulf coalition inevitable in order to prevent the transformation of Yemen into another Somalia.
Unfortunately, the world has been folding arms over the Houthi threats in the last three-and-a-half years. In reality, it is Iran that threatens global security and regional stability. It almost made itself an ostrich which buries its head in the sand due to the time bomb being planted for international energy safety.
The Houthi attacks on ships and navigation routes as well as the booby trap set in the Yemeni regional waters bring back memories of the catastrophic piracy perpetrated by Somali militants in the past two decades. This piracy led to hijacking of 149 ships and 125 towns; hence, the harsh international military response which restored safety in the navigation routes along the African coasts.
A couple of days ago, the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers, which added a new crime to the list of attacks on the global energy safety. It was an implementation of Iran’s threat to shut down straits in the region if countries across the world stop the import of its oil due to new US sanctions. In contrast, there has not been any serious international reaction in this regard, especially after the so-called ‘Failaq Al-Quds’ Commander Qasim Sulaimani followed the attack with a direct threat to US President Donald Trump, saying “The Red Sea is no longer safe for the US forces”.
The series of counter threats between Washington and Tehran has been negatively affecting energy safety. To avoid recurrence of the 1988 incidents and the tankers war, Saudi Arabia issued a decision to suspend oil export through Bab-el-Mandeb. This is a wise signal to the concerned super powers to rise from the surveillance chair and perform their duty of maintaining energy safety by punishing Iran and preventing it from creating another global recession through oil price hike and escalation of economic downturn.
Doing this will convince countries which are still defending the Houthi’s terrorist actions under the guise of human rights that what is happening in Yemen is about Iran’s efforts to convert the country into another Somalia while pushing the Arabian Gulf countries into a prolonged war and the effect of which on the global economy will be devastating.
Around 3.5 million barrels of oil and other commercial ships pass through Bab-el-Mandeb strait daily. In case the marine route is under terrorist threat, it means all gigantic seaport projects and free trade zones in the African continent are under threat. Can the world, especially the United States, China and France, bear this catastrophic situation or there will be a serious international move to enforce international resolutions related to Yemen under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter?
In such a situation, the adage, “Better late than never,” will be useless. The world must protect its economic interests by reverting to the opinion of Saudi Arabia on the serious threats hurled by Houthi militants backed by the foremost world-branded terrorist nation — Iran. This is far better than swallowing bitter pills as it happened after trivializing the Somali pirates attack — which ended in the kidnapping of 3,741 ship crew members and scores of deaths before they finally realized the need to wage war against them and refer them to the International Criminal Court.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times