Written By: Nasr Taha Mustafa *
Article Date: Aug 4, 2012 - 11:45:42 PM
After the Unification Day of Yemen in 1990, specifically, when the war of liberating Kuwait has come to an end in 1991, Yemen could bring back its relations in a normal diplomatic way following a long detachment with the north and a semi-alliance with the south, though in the 1994 civil war Iran had a positive position on the continuation of Yemen’s unity, rejecting the secessionist project that its ally the former south’s president Ali Salem al-Beedh had adopted.
Nasr Taha Mustafa
However, one can say that there was not a real state of cooperation with the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was the victorious in the 1994 civil war. The Iran-Yemen relations were languidly hovering over one place, though a joint ministerial committee of the both states was formed for strengthening the bilateral cooperation in addition to that Iran expressed its interests of giving developmental supports after the end of the 1994 war.
I still remember when the late Speaker of the Parliament Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar received the Iranian Minister Jihad al-Banna who came to Sana’a as a head of the Iranian side of that joint committee in 1997. I was shocked when al-Ahmar harshly criticized al-Banna that the Iranian government is not serious in supporting Yemen and that it always made up false promises. Al-Ahmar also said such a manner is unbearable and that either Iran commits to funding Yemen with big rewarding projects or the regular annual meetings of the joint committee are not needed.
At the meeting al-Ahmar seemed to be avidly delivering a serious and open message that the government of Yemen had never ever dared to say to the Iranians. Since then the Iranian have not changed their approach in terms of managing their relations with Yemen, though there had been an official visit by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Tehran in 2000 and another by the Iranian former President Mohammad Khatami to Sana’a in 2003.
However, the two visits did not yield any positive impacts on both countries but that the Iranians had been working quietly to serve their political interests through humble medical centers they set up in Yemen and through opening doors to trade facilitations for Yemeni figures who were sympathetic to Tehran and to all what Tehran represented, of course, with thought, policy and doctrine.
With the outbreak of military confrontations between Saleh’s regime and the Houthis in 2004 until 2010, those centers and others (in Sa’adah) were working like eyes for Iran, watching everything that happens. Besides, the commercial cover was the best way to finance the forces that were sympathetic to Iran!
The Iranian regime is aware that within the countries, which are passing through transitional periods, there is a kind of vacuum and emptiness of multiple representations and shapes, and continue that way until the political stability is brought back.
During such periods, which are often marred by ambiguity and uncertainty in the political scene, the nations and forces turn into a battle in an attempt to impose their visions for the future of the country which is going through such periods of transition.
This is what Iran is doing well today in Yemen in an entirely counter-position to the political compromise that the political forces of Yemen have reached at with the auspices of the regional and international communities and buttress of the Security Council with two resolutions issued.
With the exception of the exceptional Iranian interest in Yemen through Iran’s clear, blatant and strong sympathy toward the Houthi movement, particularly during the two wars- the fifth and the sixth- this interest lately more dropped off to some extent, even at the beginnings of the youth peaceful popular revolution early last year.
This interest has never been strong before until there were assertive signs that the regimes of presidents Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bashar al-Assad could be toppled. Iran were not expecting that President Saleh is serious about handing in the power, but its concern was increasing whenever it felt that Saleh’s excuses for not signing the GGC deal were vanishing in tandem with the escalation of the popular revolution in Syria.
Tehran is aware that its ally, Bashar al-Assad will inescapably be fallen over while he intends every day more to start massive massacres , as the revolution expands more and more at a large scale against him.
As any strong political system of great power and regional interests, it must think in a new and unusual way when it finds that its influence areas have started to be unstable; it also must keep on and search for new areas of influence.
If Yemen is Iran’s possible alternative to Syria, then I have no doubt that the Mullahs of Iran are fully aware that there are important differences between Yemen and Syria that can never be overlooked at all!
For the Syrian-Iranian alliance was made with the consent of the sectarian regime that governs Damascus for more than four decades. Such an alliance wouldn›t have seen a day, if the Assads rule has not successfully been extended for long.
However, such issue cannot be reachable in Yemen nor in the coming days. Moreover, the fall of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein›s regime at the hands of the Americans and the voluntarily or forcibly handing over of power in Baghdad to a system closer to the mullahs in Tehran than to the American themselves, have created, for the first time in the modern history of the region, a geographical stability of the Iranian regime to extend to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Syria, and up to Lebanon.
This will be made through the close relationship with Hezbollah which represents the tough number in the current Lebanese government. So, the fall of the Assad regime will end this Iranian stability and will affect Iran›s power in the Arab region. From here, Iran would have started thinking to go to Yemen, but this time with a new policy or, say, a policy that is not entirely new but its dimensions and prospects have been really developed and expanded.
Accordingly, it was not easy for the President Abid-Rabu Mansour Hadi to set off the booming news on the harmful Iranian intelligence activity in Yemen during a recent speech- something too rare to be heard in his speeches.
Hadi has unleashed unprecedentedly strong warnings after the arrest of an Iranian spy ring network operating for a long time in Yemen, and managing various espionage activities.
Iran which was not only enough with its well-known trivial support for the Houthi movement, has expanded its activities since the end of last year rapidly to provoke sectarianism and segregations.
Besides, Iran is now supporting the activity of the separatist forces in Yemen explicitly along the South Yemeni and besides, she wants to raise tendencies sectarian Sunni-level North Yemen to ideologically torn north Yemen, and this is precisely the idea of demonic activity is the brainchild of Iran›s traditional allies in Yemen who have the basis to support their attitudes of racism and sectarianism.
Certainly, this generous support provided by Iran to both parties has not yielded its fruits yet; I think it will not do and will not bear any kind of fruits at all, not just because of an early national wake-up for facing it up, but more importantly because it is moving in the opposite direction to the trends of the Yemeni predominant will expressed by the peaceful revolution.
However, the rise of Iran at the forefront of this activity, being the theocratic country which is governed by a number of retarded clerics and does not constitute a restorative model such as Turkey and Malaysia, basically does not have the love or confidence of the majority of Yemen›s people, which have always been looking at Iran with the eyes of suspicion, which means the failure of all its destructive projects in Yemen!
--------- * Nasr Taha Mustafa: former head of the state-run Saba News Agency * Mareb Press News Site
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