Wars on Many Fronts | The star
LAST MONTH was a moment of mad scramble of world powers.
The United States threatened sanctions against an expansionist Russia, saying it would kick the Russians out of the international banking system as they have already done with Iran. For their part, the members of the European Union were arguing about what to do about the massive build-up on Ukraine’s border with Russia.
The Germans, who are involved in a pipeline project (it has been completed, but the pipeline has yet to be commissioned) that would allow natural gas to be piped directly into their country from Russia, remained hesitant, knowing that sanctions would prevent it would make it difficult for them to have financial transactions with Russia. Was Ukraine really worth a war that the whole EU would have to fight?
These distractions made it perfect for another long-running and much bloodier war to get into high gear. The Yemeni Houthis, opposed to Saudi Arabia’s religious influence and wanting to reclaim oil fields they say belong to them, made their move. Late on Sunday January 23rd they were able to launch rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t the first time.
In Sunday’s attack in Saudi Arabia, the two injured men were among the throngs of migrant workers who continue to do whatever the Saudis consider beneath their dignity — and the Saudis consider many beneath their dignity. The two guest workers were a Sudanese and a Bangladeshi.
Another Houthi attack on January 24 targeted an air force base with 2,000 US personnel in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to Emirati officials, the missiles were intercepted and “fell in separate areas around Abu Dhabi”.
A week earlier, a drone strike in Abu Dhabi said by the Houthi rebels had killed three people, including a Pakistani national. Other attacks were also launched at Dubai Airport and some “sensitive and important” targets. Then, on Jan. 31, the UAE said it intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile launched from Yemen as the Gulf state was hosting Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
As everyone knows, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not cities remotely considered part of a war zone. Even though the Emiratis have sided with Saudi Arabia in their war against the Yemeni Houthis, and the UAE Armed Forces are part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, cities like Dubai and Despite everything, Abu Dhabi continued as before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The designer shops, the glitzy and glamorous malls, the soaring skylines have all shone and shone. Tourists following Covid protocols have continued to fill them, eating at Michelin-starred restaurants with the usual guest workers parking their cars and mopping their floors.
The attacks on Abu Dhabi have disrupted this usual tenor of “business as usual”. In the Jan. 24 attack, Abu Dhabi residents said they heard explosions in the early hours of the morning. These were probably not the actual missiles fired by the Houthis, but rather the interceptors fired back by UAE and US forces.
The escalation of fighting has raised concerns about the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen; The World Food Program estimates that five million Yemenis are on the brink of starvation and 50,000 are actually starving. Days after the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a prison in Yemen’s Houthi stronghold of Saada, killing over 70 people.
These details are no doubt disputed by those on both sides of the conflict – the details of the warfare, the casualties, which side could do more damage to the other. One thing is certain, however: the city-states of the Gulf – shining examples of the transformation of the Middle East into a center of commerce rather than just a producer of fossil fuels – are not as impenetrable as once thought. Since the rockets were fired, Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea has advised foreign companies and investors to leave the country, saying the situation is unstable. The Houthis are ready to “counter escalation with escalation”.
It’s unknown exactly what will happen, but regional experts speaking to news sources have underscored the fact that this escalation could be a game changer. Karen Young of the Middle East Institute’s Energy and Economic Program said that the attack was “absolutely an escalation” and that GCC’s “security now has risk calculations that approximate what we have seen in other parts of the Middle East” where Dangers exist at pipelines, production plants, civil aviation etc. are common.
Strategically, in conflicts, those who are most vulnerable always have the most to lose. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the repeated deaths among the Houthis suggest that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen may have done so much damage that the former have almost nothing to lose. Even as the Houthis face catastrophic retaliation from the Saudi coalition, they may be too desperate to care. One or two more attacks in the United Arab Emirates, which routes much of the world’s air traffic, and the nature of the war itself would change drastically.
The conflict in Yemen is known to be a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The burgeoning conflict in Ukraine is a conflict between the United States, the EU and its allies with Russia. The fact that both are being exacerbated at the same time risks plunging the world into a larger conflict.
In the Saudi-Houthi conflict, America’s attention to NATO and the war in Ukraine could limit the aid they can provide. If so, the future looks particularly bleak for the Middle East, as even those areas untouched by decades of unrest are drawn into the conflict. – Dawn/Asia News Network