As the senseless war launched against the poorest nation in the Middle-East entered its 19 months, a growing number of intellectuals and thinkers have come to criticize the House of Saud for its barbaric crimes across the region.
An American university professor believes that the United States government, which has been supporting Saudi Arabia since the outset of the war, does not have any clear strategy for ending the conflict, and is simply “flailing around” while the Middle East is burning in chaos.
On the Israeli support for the military expedition in Yemen, Prof. Derek Ford says that Tel Aviv normally favors the destabilization of the Middle East, and that’s why they’ve offered their backing to Riyadh in the recent war.
“In general, Israel benefits from the destabilization of the Middle East. The fewer strong, sovereign nations in the region the better it is for Israel,” he noted.
Prof. Derek R. Ford is a PhD candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. His research is on education, geography, and international political economy. He is co-author of “Marx, Capital, and Education: Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Becoming” with Curry Malott. Ford is co-chair of the Education Department at The Hampton Institute and currently teaches in the Social Justice Studies Program at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in New York.
Derek Ford says that the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s decision in blocking the humanitarian aid to the crisis-hit nation indicates the “ruthlessness” of Riyadh and the Al-Saud family.
FNA talked to Prof. Derek R. Ford about the war on Yemen and the foreign support Saudi Arabia is getting in. The following is the text of our interview with Prof. Ford.
Q: Prof. Ford; Saudi Arabia started its aerial strikes against Yemen without the endorsement of the UN Security Council, as the sole international body responsible for safeguarding global peace and security. Why hasn’t its military intervention in Yemen received a legally justifiable response by the Security Council and the international bodies?
A: The Saudis didn’t go to the UN Security Council because they knew that the war wouldn’t receive approval. At the very least, Russia and China would have vetoed any resolution calling for bombing Yemen. For example, China’s relationship with Yemen goes all the way back to immediately after the Chinese Revolution and, while they were friendly with the Hadi government, they met with Houthis in early March, 2015 to establish an economic relationship and have continued doing business with Yemen. And in general the situation in the Middle East has become so unstable with so many outright interventions and proxy wars that it would have been difficult if not impossible to get any resolution calling for another war passed.
Q: The war on Yemen has created a serious humanitarian crisis in the Arab country. As reported by UNICEF, 2 million children have been forced to leave their schools and nearly 8 million children are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, which Saudi Arabia denies them. What’s your reaction to the calamity unfolding in Yemen these days?
A: It’s a terrible situation and completely unnecessary. It goes to show the ruthlessness of the Saudi government and their complete disregard for democracy and humanity. In fact, preventing much needed aid from being delivered into Yemen has been part of the Saudi military strategy. It is for this reason that they bombed Yemen. Saudi military strategy has included preventing aid from entering Yemen by bombing airstrips at the Sana’a International Airport. They have been bombing schools, hospitals, densely populated areas, soccer arenas, and refugee centers. It’s a very ruthless campaign.
Q: Is Saudi Arabia looking for precise, clear objectives in its war on Yemen? As you say, it has been pounding the urban areas, airports and hospitals, and it seems that it doesn’t have a definite strategy for the conclusion of the war. Is Saudi Arabia confused and unsure about the future of the war it has started?
A: Most immediately they are looking for the Hadi led government to be reinstated, but that is not only unlikely, it’s impossible. Hadi never had any real power or base of support within Yemen. It seems that their main goal is to defeat the Houthi resistance, and that again this will be a very difficult task; it won’t be accomplished by bombing and the Houthis are skilled guerrilla fighters. In addition, there are numerous other forces on the ground resisting the Saudi-led assault.
Q: Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal wrote in a tweet that he would reward the Royal Saudi Air Force pilots who took part in the aerial operations against Yemen with 100 Bentley luxury cars. He removed his tweet a few hours after posting it. What does such an opulent gesture indicate? Why was it so important for the Saudis to start bombarding Yemen in an inclusive operation, and why did they end it without achieving anything significant?
A: Prince Talal’s tweet is an example of the total corruption of the Saudi dictatorship and the disgusting gap between the rich and the poor. Millions of Saudi people live in poverty and unemployment is skyrocketing. It’s difficult to get exact figures because the Saudi government tries to keep those secret. This tweet reveals that the regime has plenty of wealth that it could be redistributing to people in need but is instead using to fund a ruthless war. In this, it has a lot in common with its ally, the United States.
Q: There were reports that Israel has been aiding Saudi Arabia during its military assault on Yemen. In what ways could Israel benefit from the war on Yemen? Is there something in Sana’a which scares the leaders of Tel Aviv?
A: In general, Israel benefits from the destabilization of the Middle East. The fewer strong, sovereign nations in the region the better it is for Israel. That’s why Israel has so strongly supported the rebels in the Syrian war. Just last year the Wall Street Journal did an article detailing how the Israeli’s are treating Al-Qaeda soldiers and sending them back to Syria to fight. Israel wants to break the axis of resistance, which is Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria. By supporting the Saudi war on Yemen they are hoping to fight another ally of the Iranian government. Although the idea that Iran is supporting the Houthis has been questioned even by the US military.
Q: Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen has resulted in the resurrection of Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in the country, which are willing to increase their influence over the Arabian Peninsula. This will certainly backfire on the Saudis, and the United States as the supporter of the military operation. Isn’t it that the Saudis have ignited a fire in which they may eventually get burnt themselves?
A: The United States has no clear strategy in the Middle East right now; there is no ultimate plan. They are flailing around while the region is burning. It was ultimately the US-led wars on Iraq and Syria that gave birth to the Islamic State forces in the first place. The US and Saudi Arabia are fine with ISIS forces having some territory and power, as long as they don’t infringe on their resources in the region. Any such unspoken arrangement, however, surely won’t last long.