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Policy Reset Joe Biden and Yemeni Civil War



"America is back", Joe Biden, US president,

stated in his remarks delivered at the State Department speech on Feb 4. His remarks were directed toward his decision to pull back from Saudi-led operations in Yemen against Houthis which has escalated in a civil war situation in the State since 2014. President Joe Biden, in a self enlightening fashion, announced that the USA won't be an unquestioning ally to the Gulf monarchies and fight their battles which had "created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe" by displacing 8 million and killing 100,000 Yemenis. We know that nothing is certain and for granted in international diplomacy, and every nation is striving for their self-interest to establish or to sustain their respective hegemony in international politics.

Now let us look at the civil war scenario in Yemen and how it unfolded which will eventually make us understand better what role did Saudi and the USA played and further what made the USA pull back from this adventure.

In 1962-70 Yemen was infected with the civil war situation. 'Zaydi Shiites' or Zaydiyyah are part of the Shia sect, kind of a caste prevalent in Islam, who were in prominence during the 1960s in North Yemen. They were sidelined and targeted during the civil war and further got totally alienated in the 1980s in the State and especially in the North. Salafist Sunni ideals, who allegedly fought against the Shiites, gained prominence across the border in Saudi Arabia which exported the ideology all across Yemen supported by the Saudi's. In response, Zaidi clerics began to militarize their followers against Saudi Arabia and its allies (mostly Sunni majority nations). Then finally the Houthi movement was founded in the 1990s by Hussain Badreddin al- Houthi. Moving forward in 2014, Houthis allied with Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former President of Yemen who was removed from the prominence through power, seized the capital of Yemen, Sana'a, and then overthrown the new president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2015. Now, this was the time when west started looking at this power tussle with speculation and in a naive way. The aftermath was such that Obama administration in 2015 initiated the support to Saudi-led offences in Yemen backed by the United Kingdom, France and other allies against the Houthis who were backed by Shia majority Islamic monarchies like Iran and Iraq. The decision of the Obama administration to support the cause of Saudi Arabia was to compensate for the anger that Saudi's had over Iran's nuclear deal.

In 2021 as we all know, Joe Biden pulled back the support to the Saudi's against its war in Yemen and some relevant defence deals on humanitarian grounds, as contended. However, the US would continue to provide defensive support to Saudi Arabia against missile and drone attacks from Iranian-backed forces, said Biden in his speech. Also, US forces will continue the operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is quite a relief for Saudi Arabia I guess. But what about Biden's administration intentions to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, something that Saudi Arabia has vehemently opposed as a threat issue? Will Saudi be ok with this?

Whatever the case be one very clear thing is Biden's Administration push to change the present diplomatic status quo, partially if not totally, by presenting America once again as a "moral leader" for the world. "The United States’ moral leadership on refugee issues was a point of bipartisan consensus for so many decades when I first got here. We shine the light, the lamp, of liberty on oppressed people. We’re offering safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution, and our example pushed other nations to open wide their doors as well", said Joe Biden advocating his decision of not participating in Yemenis crisis anymore. However, the storyline is that it was the Obama administration who started the campaign in Yemen in which Joe Biden was the Vice President. How ironic, Isn't? It's only time and events which will unfold the chapters of this policy in coming years for America, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and probably for the whole of the middle east region. Peace is the only outcome that citizens will count on in midst of complex means and uncertain ends.

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