Riyadh is betting on Qatar and mobilizing against Biden's policy in Yemen


Mon, 08-03-2021 10:33 PM, Aden

South24| Badr Mohammed

In the first official visit between the two countries, since the announcement of the Arab boycott in June 2017, and since the Al-Ula summit last January, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived today in the Qatari capital, Doha, on a visit described by the Saudi official news agency as " Official", in which he carried a message to the Emir of Qatar from the Saudi monarch.

The Saudi minister's visit came just one day after the Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al Thani, received the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Mubarak, who also carried a message from President  Hadi.

Bin Mubarak's visit, in which he announced the resumption of Yemeni relations with Doha, was well received by the official Yemeni media and the Islamic Islah Party (the Brotherhood in Yemen). (1)

The internationally recognized government severed its relationship with Doha, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announcing a boycott of Qatar, against the backdrop of "Qatar's destabilizing role for Arab national security."

According to the Qatar News Agency, the Qatari side stressed, during its meeting with its Yemeni counterpart, "the firm position of the State of Qatar regarding the importance of preserving the unity of Yemen and achieving its security and stability," and pointed out the "need to end the state of war, adopt dialogue and a political solution, achieve national reconciliation, and return to the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, .. as a basis for ending this crisis." It also called for the implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, especially Resolution 2216.

While Doha is accused of its relationship with the strategic Gulf region's opponent, Iran, at the expense of its Gulf and Arab depth, many accusations have emerged that Doha supports the Houthi militias, loyal to Iran, in Yemen.

Austrian and German newspapers had revealed months ago, "intelligence" information and reports, accusing Doha of financing the Houthi militia with weapons it bought from Ukraine. (2) In addition, in its most influential media platforms, Qatar grants ample space for the Houthis' views and political, military, and war rhetoric. (3)

At a time when the Houthis stepped up their fight east of Sanaa, with the aim of controlling what remains of the strategic, oil-rich province of Marib, the official in the Yemeni Islamic "Islah" Party, Ali Al-Jaradi, warned in an interview with the Suhail TV that "Iran is a sectarian colonial state that cannot leave countries Gulf, even those compatible with it." (4)

Political observers said that Al-Jaradi's statements reflect the political desire of the Islamic party to urge Qatar to provide support for President Hadi's political legitimacy, in which (Islah) Party controls the decision-making process. These statements also reflect rapprochement and harmony between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Party at the present time.

It should be noted that Qatar refrained from providing any financial support to Yemen at the donors' conference hosted by Switzerland on the first of this month. (5)

According to conflicting political assessments, there are a set of reasons that combine in making the Qatari position on Yemen, the most important of which are President Hadi's decision to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in 2017; Qatar's claim of its commitment to the terms of the Gulf-Qatari reconciliation at the Al-Ula summit; the clear Qatari political line, which is very close to the American Democratic Administration and its policy in the region, which contradicts the Saudi position.

Perhaps the movement of Yemeni and Saudi diplomacy will succeed in removing the diplomatic obstacles that were placed in front of Qatar in order to urge it to actively engage in the Yemeni crisis, while Qatar’s position along with the US position and its general political strategic line, remains an obstacle to Doha.

Qatar is currently playing the role of indirect mediator between the Biden administration and the Iranian regime, regarding the two parties' return to the nuclear agreement, at a time when Iran has stepped up its production of enriched uranium.

Last Thursday, the Qatari foreign minister discussed with the United States ’special envoy to Iran, Robert Mali, developments in the region, according to the Anadolu Agency. (6)

Yemeni Marib is a hot card between Washington and Tehran in the debate over the return to the nuclear agreement, especially after Washington's attempts to play a direct role in the Yemeni crisis, away from the US traditional policy that entrusted the Yemen file over the past decades to Riyadh.

In his latest statement, which reinforces this Analysis, the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs denied, in an interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV, today, that "there is a special American path to solve the crisis in Yemen," but he confirmed the existence of a "path to support the UN envoy, Martin Griffiths." (7)

This clearly indicates the efforts of the Saudi and Yemeni governments to limit Washington's influence in the Yemeni file, according to the Biden administration’s vision.

All these political developments come in light of the difficult humanitarian and living conditions in Yemen that are the worst ever, according to UN and international estimates.

In Aden, the capital of South Yemen, the seat of the government of the Riyadh Agreement, the deterioration of the institutional performance of services and living conditions has intensified. This reflected the failure of the government to fulfill its duties and fulfill its obligations. This heralds the outbreak of popular demonstrations and widespread security chaos.

The prominent Official in the Southern Transitional Council (STC), Nasser Al-Khubaji, called during the celebration of International Women's Day, the government  to be clear to the people and expose those behind obstacles and crises, disrupting services, people's interests, and the deteriorating economic situation. (8)

At this time, the military battles between Hadi's forces, reinforced with air cover by the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi group, backed by Iran, are the fiercest ever, coinciding with Houthi air operations in the Saudi depth that affected Aramco's oil facilities in Dammam. The coalition also intensified its military raids in "Qualitative air operations" on Sanaa.

To a large extent, these developments reflect a Saudi-Iranian desire to flex the military muscles, in contradiction to the UN and US stance seeking to end the war and push for a comprehensive political solution. Riyadh is seeking to form a unified Gulf position, it seems, regarding the crisis in Yemen, in a new bet on Qatari diplomacy, whose moves usually disappoint the hopes of its neighbors.

Fellow at South 24 Center for News and Studies, specializing in Yemeni political affairs

QatarSouth YemenYemenSaudia ArabiaIranUSABiden Policy