Alwaght- The White House officials take a humanitarian gesture claiming that they intend to end the eight-year war their ally Saudi Arabia waged against Yemen, but in reality they do the opposite. After deployment of forces in the eastern province of Hadhramout, the US is now having new dreams this time for Al-Mahrah province in the south.
Steven Fagin, the US ambassador to the fugitive government of Yemen, along with Admiral Brad Cooper, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, and a number of other military officers on Friday entered Al-Mahrah and met with Mohammad Ali Yasser, the governor appointed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition. September 26 news website, a Yemeni outlet, referring to the pictures of the Saudi king and crown prince in the meeting room, announced that these pictures show the direct occupation of a Yemeni province by Saudi Arabia.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the American delegation’s visit of Al-Mahrah came under the guise of making arrangements to fight arms and drugs smuggling. Earlier, Huffington Post reported that Al-Mahrah’s strategic transportation facilities and also military bases in the province had captivated the attention of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi authorities claimed that their activities in Al-Mahrah were to support Yemen to block arms smuggling and improve infrastructure and provide humanitarian aid, but the American website pointed out that their main goal is to use the province to access valuable trade routes.
According to the report, the American officials and national security experts are concerned that the Saudis could use the Western supports to turn the Yemeni region into a proxy state. But these concerns are sham and the US has shown that what matters for it is advancement of its arms deals and financial benefits, and it does not matter in what hands these arms end up.
In August last year, a number of American military personnel landed in Al-Mahrah airport to make arrangements for establishment of a new military base. In addition to plundering Al-Mahrah oil, the US also pursues Israeli interests in the region. Having in mind that a major part of the Israeli trade is done through maritime routes of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, domination of the sea enables more secure and comfortable Israeli maritime trade.
To increase its spying activities and dominate the world’s most significant shipping route in Yemen’s south, the Israeli regime is seeking presence in the country’s coasts and islands. It has already laid the foundation for such an aim in Socotra island with the UAE help, and takeover of Al-Mahrah can pave the way for its ambitions.
In response to the entry of American forces to Al-Mahrah, Hizam al-Assad, a member of Ansarullah Movement’s Political Bureau, wrote in a tweet: “The ignorance and imprudence of the United States in the occupied areas of Yemen will bring them nothing but failure, shame and lesson to learn.... Americans and those who facilitated their presence in our country will soon find out that Vietnam and Afghanistan were paradise for them compared to Yemen hell.”
The reason behind the US building a presence in Al-Mahrah is the province’s place in the region. It is located in the east of Yemen and has an area of 82,405 square kilometers. It also has a long coastline in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, which is nearly 560 kilometers long. After Hadhramout, Al-Mahrah is the second largest province of Yemen and has diverse mineral resources, commercial crossings, tourist areas, and many investment opportunities, and these are what captivating attention of the US and Arab coalition. Given the status of Al-Mahrah as one of main sea and land trade centers in Yemen, a considerable number of population in the province are businesspeople.
The American and coalition focus on Al-Mahrah comes as it has been the least tense region in Yemen and therefore a major part of its infrastructure remain unscathed.
Competition in Al-Mahrah
Given Al-Mahrah’s economic and trade capacities, the competition between regional countries and the US in this strategic region is growing heated. Although Washington has been backing Riyadh and Abu Dhabi since the beginning of the war, it seems that these days it is moving towards cooperation with Oman. Due to its proximity to Al-Mahrah, Oman is more sensitive to the province, and in the early years of the war, it run into challenge with the UAE over this issue. In other words, Muscat considers Al-Mahrah as its backyard and the bastion of its traditional influence in Yemen, and is worried about Saudi Arabia and the UAE encroaching on this strategic region. Oman has long had deep influence among Al-Mahrah tribes, but the Emirates moves have divided the ranks of Muscat’s supporters in Al-Mahrah.
Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE stationed a number of its mercenaries in the province since a few years ago, with them implementing plans dictated by their masters. This caused a tripartite competition among the Arab sheikhdoms in Al-Mahrah. Already occupying Aden and surrounding areas, the UAE eyes adding Al-Mahrah to the list to powerfully advance its colonial policies.
Concerned about the UAE ambitions in southern Yemen, Saudi Arabia is inevitably uniting with Oman to distance the Emiratis from Al-Mahrah. Last year new reports talked about an Emirati plan to incite Al-Mahrah tribes against the Saudi-sponsored puppet government in Aden. This is causing the Saudis extremely worried about the UAE foothold in the province and find it a threat to their occupational interests. For several months now, Riyadh has been paying monthly salaries to Al-Mahrah tribal leaders in order to keep them within its circle.
The Saudi authorities claim that weapons are being sent to Ansarullah from this province and they are trying to check weapons smuggling to the Yemenis by occupying it. That was the main driver behind them sending a number of their mercenaries to parts of this province in 2017. Saudi Arabia, which has been planning the construction of pipelines to transfer its oil to the Oman Sea and the Indian Ocean, has focused on Al-Mahrah to advance this scenario as the province is the only way to transfer Saudi oil to high seas. With Iran having repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers in the event of Western military action against it, the Saudis are worried and are looking for alternative routes in order to keep their oil flowing to world market in case of a crisis.
In the past few months that clashes winded down between Ansarullah and the Arab coalition, the Saudi-Emirati competition over domination of southern regions has intensified and their proxy forces sought to control strategic regions to plunder their oil. In the past year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made huge revenues from the sale of Yemen’s oil, while this cash is the right of the Yemenis who desperately need it to assuage their financial suffering imposed by the Arab aggression.
Despite efforts by the Saudis and Emiratis to expand their influence in Al-Mahrah, the people of the province have not welcomed them and several times protested their presence. They, however, are optimistic about Oman, with Muscat granting some of them Omani citizenship. On the other hand, despite being generally a Saudi-Emirati ally in Yemen, it sides with Omani policies in Al-Mahrah. Washington’s shift to Oman followed a Muscat decision to allow Israeli flights in its airspace last week. They immediately started strategic dialogue and in the first round, an MoU was signed with the US Exim Bank, an official export credit agency, to provide Oman with finances to launch its industrial projects including in wireless industries, 5G networks, vital technologies, renewable energies, agriculture and wastewater treatment. The Americans are aspiring to lure Muscat into normalization with the Israeli regime and this is why they are taking measures in the interest of Oman. To this end, more strategic agreements are likely to be inked in the future.
Saudi Arabia and its allies waged a cruel war on Yemen under the excuse of saving Yemenis but actually for reinstating the fugitive Yemeni government. However, after eight years, not only they failed to realize their goals, but also they reduced the country to ruins by destructing its infrastructures and killing tens of thousands of civilians, and now dream of occupying the southern regions to reverse part of their loses by plundering its natural and oil resources. But the reality is that Ansarullah would not allow this to happen and recently warned that if the aggression forces decline to leave Yemen, it would resume missile attacks, and perhaps these threats materialize on the 8th anniversary of war.
Rivalry between the Arab aggression countries and the US not only does not bring peace and stability to Yemen, but also the start of its new round would cause divisions and political polarizations in the province and render the conditions more strained than before.