In Flames (II)

SANAA/RIYADH/BERLIN | | yemensaudi-arabien

SANAA/RIYADH/BERLIN (Own report) - Saudi Arabia is using German fighter planes to wage its aerial warfare in Yemen. This has been reported in several Arabian Peninsula news articles independently from one another. According to these articles, the Eurofighter, which German arms manufacturers have played a significant role producing, are being used to carry out so-called precision bombing of the Houthi rebels. The Saudi-led aggression coalition, which is receiving military and intelligence aid from the USA, is also politically supported by Berlin. This war, causing a humanitarian catastrophe, is geostrategic in nature. Saudi Arabia's ruling clan and the West are seeking to prevent Iran from gaining influence through the Houthis on the Arabian Peninsula. However, it is unclear whether the Houthis are even acting in Iran's interests. But, according experts, it is clear that the Al Qaeda network, whose Yemeni wing claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris last January, will be the main beneficiary of this war. The West - Germany included - is deliberately risking al Qaeda's reinforcement.

"Precision Bombing" with Eurofighters

The Saudi-led aggression coalition's air attacks on Houthi rebel positions in Yemen are being carried out with German fighter planes. This has been reported by the Saudi news portal Arab News, the broadcaster Al Arabiya (United Arab Emirates), as well as a specialized Italian internet portal using video documentation from Saudi Arabia's King Khalid Air Base as its source.[1] According to these sources, the Saudi Air Force is not only using older models of the Tornado, produced jointly by Germany, Great Britain and Italy, but the Eurofighter, produced by Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain as well. Tornados are thought to have been used already back in 2009 in Saudi air attacks against the Houthi rebels. Riyadh first used Eurofighters in February 2015 for attacks on the "Islamic State" (IS). Arab News currently reports that the Eurofighters are executing precision bombing in Yemen. Saudi Arabia had ordered 72 "Typhoon" Eurofighters, of which a large portion has already been delivered. Though Great Britain stands as its merchant, Germany had played a significant role in its fabrication.

"Legitimate under International Law"

Germany is also politically supporting its closest Middle East ally, Saudi Arabia, in its latest war. Although German politicians are showing restraint in making public statements, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly stated that it prefers a "political solution" to the conflict. A speaker for the ministry has regularly reiterated that according to Germany's legal interpretation, the Saudi-led coalition's air attacks, are "legitimate under international law." Riyadh has merely "intervened at the request of the Yemeni president in a highly dramatic situation." Without question, this is admissible. "According to the rules of international law, it is legitimate, to render emergency aid at the request of a legitimate head of state."[2] In this respect, the German government has "no reservations about the international legitimacy of the Saudis' course of action."

A Humanitarian Catastrophe

The aggression, being carried out with also German combat aircraft, is plunging the already poverty-stricken Yemen even further into chaos. Since the beginning of the Saudi-led aggression, well over 600 people have been killed and more than 2000 wounded many. seriously. There is hardly an escape. Some Yemenis are seeking refuge in Somalia(!). The aggressors have allegedly already executed 1200 air strikes - without military success. The Saudi war coalition is unable to halt the advance of the Houthis, who only recently took control of the seaport, Aden. Yemen is facing a total collapse similar to that in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, and currently in Libya. Nevertheless, the aggression is being politically supported by Germany and is receiving military and intelligence aid from the USA. Washington announced it would step up its arms supplies for the war coalition and has initiated daily air-to-air refueling flights of fighter jets in the aggression. Washington is also expanding its intelligence-sharing with Riyadh to provide more information about potential targets. US Forces have established a "joint coordination planning cell" in the Saudi operation center and dispatched a 20-member military coordination team to interact with the Gulf allies.[3]

A Key Position

The war must be viewed in the context of a regional power struggle and western geostrategic interests. On the one hand, Saudi Arabia and Iran have always been rivals in a struggle for hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Iran has had a clear advantage since the West has virtually eliminated Irak, another Iranian rival in 2003. In this power struggle, the West supports Riyadh, considered more acquiescent. German arms manufacturers have significantly helped to upgrade the Saudi armed forces. ( reported.[4]) Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has been a strong ally of Saudi Arabia and the West. The United States was therefore able to use a military base north of Aden to wage its "anti-terror" drone war on the Arab Peninsula. It is unthinkable that the Houthis would endorse this war. "The Houthi rebels are puppets of the Iranian government," declared Hadi, Yemen's overthrown president. "If the Houthis are not stopped, they are destined to become the next Hezbollah, deployed by Iran to threaten the people in the region and beyond."[5] Even though most experts consider this assessment as exaggerated, fear of Iranian strategic advantages are driving the Saudis to war - and the West to support this war. Yemen's seaport Aden is of great geostrategic importance because of its location at the Bab el-Mandeb strait, the access to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. Henner Fürtig, Middle East expert of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) concludes, "whoever controls Aden, has a key international position."[6]

Main Beneficiary Al Qaeda

Experts warn that this new war will lead not only to a humanitarian catastrophe and Yemen's ruin, but will also reinforce Al Qaeda. The air strikes have destroyed the "security forces' infrastructure, which had also served to fight al Qaeda," explained Mareike Transfeld from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). "This is particularly problematic in a situation" - meaning the current war - that will lead to a further radicalization of combatants. Under these conditions Al Qaeda could spread."[7] Marie-Christine Heinze, an Islamic scholar in Bonn shares this opinion: "The Houthis were the only actors in Yemen, who were prepared to take up the armed struggle against Al Qaeda. If now the Houthis are engaged in other conflicts and weakened, Al Qaeda will definitely benefit."[8] In fact, jihadists from the Al Qaeda network, who claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris, January 7th to 9th [9], have significantly expanded their activities in Yemen. A few days ago, Al Qaeda staged a spectacular successful liberation of around 300 prisoners in Yemen. Experts are not excluding the possibility that forces, with connections to Riyadh, who want to push the Houthis into a corner by any means necessary, were behind this liberation.

Déjà vu

Yemen is not the first geostrategic war, where the risk was taken that jihadist forces could be reinforced. Saudi Arabia's Osama Bin Laden was one of the West's allies in the 1980s' war in Afghanistan.[10] At that time, the enemy was the Soviet Union, today, it is Iran. However, as far as the reinforcement of al Qaeda is concerned, it appears that one could quicker lose control of the war in Yemen, than had been the case in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

[1] Saudi deploys advanced fighter jets in Yemen. 27.03.2015. Top Typhoon jets deployed in air raids. 08.04.2015. Typhoons execute precision bombing. 10.04.2015. David Cenciotti: Stunning footage shows Saudi Arabia's air power at war against Yemen's Houthi rebels. 06.04.2015.
[2] Mehrere Stellungnahmen von Sprechern des Auswärtigen Amts vor der Bundespressekonferenz.
[3] US expands its intelligence-sharing with Saudi Arabia over Yemen. 11.04.2015.
[4] See Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf (II), With Dictators, Headed for War (II) and In Flammen.
[5] Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi: Yemen's President: The Houthis Must Be Stopped. 12.04.2015.
[6] Weltbilder. 02.04.2015.
[7] Mareike Transfeld: Saudi-Arabiens Luftangriffe destabilisieren Jemen weiter. 31.03.2015.
[8] Teresa Eder: Jemen-Expertin: "Al Kaida wird am ehesten vom Konflikt profitieren". 13.04.2015.
[9] See Der Krieg kehrt heim (II) and Der Krieg kehrt heim (III).
[10] See Old Allies and Good Guys, Bad Guys