Yemen: Which Side Does Hariri Stand With?


By Souad Sbai

The war in Yemen is heating up also at the diplomatic table. To be under scrutiny is Hezbollah’s role in support of the Houthis militia, which is armed and financed by Iran and Qatar.

In particular, Khalid Hussein Al Yamani – Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Yemeni government temporarily based in Aden – has pointed the finger at the extremist Lebanese party closely linked to Tehran’s regime.

In a letter sent to his Lebanese colleague Gebran Bassil, Al Yamani referred to the televised speech of Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, on June 29. That speech was equivalent to an admission of the support that the Lebanese Shiite militia is offering to the Yemeni Shiite one. As a matter of fact, Nasrallah urged the Houthis to continue the hostilities against the regular army, openly declaring “the ambition of his party to fight in Yemen against the legitimate and internationally recognized authority.”

This is “a clear interference in the internal affairs of my country,” Al Yamani said; an interference that “is putting at serious stake Yemen’s national security and feeds the flames of war.” The Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs thus became the spokesman of his government in condemning “Hezbollah’s statements, as well as practices, including its participation in activities of indoctrination and planning, incitement and support aimed at the putschist movements.”

“The Yemeni government – he pointed out – has the right to raise the question at the level of the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the UN Security Council,” while the Lebanese government is called to “rein in Hezbollah.”

Al Yamani’s protest was included in a confidential message, but the content of the letter was published by Sky News, causing a fuss in the Arab world, in particular in the Lebanese press and the political field. Bassil preferred not to make any comment, but the Minister had previously distanced himself from the heated and threatening tones of Nasrallah.

For Bassil it was the first time: a sign of how Hezbollah’s leader went too far also for his government allies.

However, it is pointless to expect any reprimand and, even less, concrete measures by the current interim government, which is just in charge of the daily affairs until when a new actual government will be formed as the result of the elections held in May.

Hezbollah was the absolute winner of the last elections, confirming its hegemonic role in the Lebanese politics.

Therefore, Al Yamani’s appeal to the Lebanese government is destined to remain unheard, especially if, as it seems, Saad Hariri will be reconfirmed as prime minister, a position that belongs to a Sunni leader according to the rules of the Lebanese multi-confessional system.

Hariri’s appeasement toward Hezbollah has long been object of criticism. Why, despite having suffered a serious electoral defeat, will Hariri be the Prime Minister again? The answer is simple: because he has the blessing of Hezbollah. To regain prominence in the Lebanese political game, after his Parisian “self-exile,” Hariri de facto accepted Hezbollah’s hegemony, although it did not renounce to the role of leader of the Lebanese Sunni community, at least to the eyes of the international media and Western countries. The so-called Hariri’s “detention” in Saudi Arabia can also be explained with Riyadh’s disappointment at a political figure in whom the Saudi monarchy had considerably invested, above all in economic terms, as its reference point in Lebanon.

The Prime Minister’s acquiescence to Hezbollah, as well as the alleged flirts with Qatar and Turkey, probably pushed Riyadh to that sensational gesture.

However, nothing seems to have changed since then, and Hariri is preparing himself to be appointed as Prime Minister again. Will he be able or willing to stem Hezbollah’s hegemony in Lebanon? Or will he let Lebanon be dragged into the Yemeni conflict, as it has already happened with the Syrian one?

Hezbollah seems to be ready to relaunch its course of action in Yemen, given the gradual waning of the Syrian crisis, where it seems that Nasrallah’s militiamen will gain much less than hoped in terms of territory and influence, despite the remarkable efforts made during the war.

Therefore, it is necessary to shift the attention to another area, from Syria to Yemen, with a view to keeping alive the war of the alleged “resistance”: a slogan that only serves the purpose to hide the purely sectarian and expansionist aims of Hezbollah and its Iranian godfather: to spread the Khomeinist revolution with a Shiite flavor throughout the whole Middle East. And Sana’a, the historic capital of Yemen still occupied by the Houthis, is only 800 kilometers away from Mecca.

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