Yemen 'dragged Saudis into war'

Yemen dragged Saudi Arabia into its conflict with the Houthi rebels after realising it would not be able to defeat them militarily on its own, former vice-president Ali Salim al-Beidh claims in an interview published by Gulf News today.

Al-Beidh, who has been in exile since leading the south to defeat in the 1994 north-south war, says that instead of trying to resolve the conflict politically, the Yemeni regime "went ahead with the impossible task, a military solution. Now the government is stuck in the mud and will try to drag the region and the entire world into it." He continues:

I have information that the Yemeni team which is leading the war effort had planned to drag the Saudis into the war. This plan started when the regime realised it cannot crush al-Houthi group militarily. Informed sources in Sana'a tell me the government is quite happy today that it managed to turn the war into a regional one after the involvement of Saudi Arabia. 

I regret that we have reached this point, and it saddens me to see our brothers on both sides fighting. On the short and long terms, this war is not in the interests of anybody. Saudi Arabia is a key state in the region and it is unfortunate it got involved.

Al-Beidh (al-Baid, al-Baidh) also accuses the Yemeni regime of "trumpeting up" Iranian support for the rebels in order to secure international help. "Sana'a plays up this card whenever it feels powerless militarily," he says.

Al-Beidh's analysis may be broadly correct but his comments are somewhat ironic, considering that he played the same game himself in 1994 when the southern separatists relied heavily on funding and weaponry from the Saudis.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 29 November 2009.