Yemen: There are no peaceful or controlled wars
GUERRA CONTRA YEMEN - Parte 5
The strange and distant war against Yemen is now rumbling a thousand kilometers inside the Arab kingdom. The jewel in the crown and pocket of the Al Saúd, the opaque state company Aramco, does not arouse the same confidence in investors as a few weeks ago.
Fifth of six articles through which we try to shed some light on an atrocious conflict, silenced and forgotten by the West.
Yemen: There are no peaceful or controlled wars, and the proof is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula itself, facing one of the richest. Because Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest arms buyer. Apparently, as Yemen proves, that does not mean it is the most powerful.
So far away, so close
The West kept silent because Yemen was a remote and strange war. But today such once remote and alien wars are impossible. The good of globalization includes things as bad as the best of exacerbated nationalisms: even actions buried within a border involve us all and almost equally.
The distant skirmish affects the rest of the world. Even more, a sweeping war fought in a crucial area for the energy that moves it. And that will continue to move it until either the oil or the world is extinguished.
The Yemen war, with monumental ground deployments, drone incursion, aerial bombardment, naval siege and illegal humanitarian and commercial blockade, was swept under the rug for five years. Until a few arrows from the Yemenis hit the Arab kingdom’s Achilles heel: its oil.
Oil. Strength is weakness.
In the marrow of strength there is always weakness. Oil, thanks to which the Arabs were equipped with the most advanced weapons, exhibited at the same time the great defensive incompetence. Well, to be precise, the most expensive weapons offered by arms dealers.
When, on March 14, 2019, ten Yemeni drones hit the Buqayq and Khurais oil installations in eastern Saudi Arabia, no one believed what was happening. Neither in the golden enclosures of the extravagant Saudi palaces nor in the icy tungsten-heated corridors of the West Wing of the White House.
The portentous and inconceivable plumes of smoke came from Aramco, the Al Saud’s pocket oil company. Some saw them on NASA satellite images, others out the window.
First, they did not believe what they saw in front of them. Then, they didn’t accept what they heard: the targeted hit on the world’s largest crude oil processing plant had been inflicted by a band of insurgents. The under-appreciated Houthis, the under-appreciated popular Ansarollah movement.
Unmistakable was the bewilderment. The Houthis soon claimed responsibility for the offensive. However, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Twitter, 2019) pinned the blame for the operation on Iran. Such was the immediacy of the pronouncement that it disqualified the accusation itself from the outset.
The damage was done
50% of Saudi Arabia’s daily production was suspended. About 5.7 million barrels of oil and 2000 million cubic feet of gas (Bloomberg, 2019). In other words, the supply of about 6% of global crude oil was interrupted.
Markets were rocked. Those involved rushed to calm them down, including President Donald Trump. The latter even authorized the release of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (@realDonaldTrump, 2019).
The oil pantries appropriated by the Al Saud regime prepared millions of barrels. In the kingdom’s tanks and in those of Okinawa (Japan), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Sidi Kerir (Egypt’s Mediterranean coast). But the damage was already done.
From pocket to bag
The shock is being felt where it hurts. The shady Saudi Arabian Oil Co. known as Aramco postponed its greedy plans to 2020 or 2021. Go figure.
Before the onslaught, Aramco was accelerating preparations for an initial public offering (IPO). The company planned to go public in November 2019, or earlier, and had to postpone the aspiration to late December.
Again. Because there have been repeated extensions since, in 2016, its IPO was touted as the largest in history. More than three years later, the expectation has cooled a few hundred million dollars.
Local investors are pressured and blackmailed. But Yemeni attacks and the criminal actions of the Al Saud entangle management with elusive foreign investors.
Since the latest developments do not help, the latest delay is not to be underestimated either. While with local investors there are no difficulties, because under pressure and blackmail there are plenty of interested parties at will, with the elusive foreign investors the management becomes entangled. They want openness and details about the conditions of the company and the profits.
Yemen: There are no Peaceful or Controlled Wars.
Considering that the Yemeni attack on the refinery halved production, even temporarily, a concern arises. What is the kingdom’s ability to protect energy assets? That is where the doubts do not stop. Many wonder about the degree of state (i.e., Al Saud) interference in the company’s corporate strategy (Financial Times, 2019).
Annual dividends – Riyadh asserts – will be $75 billion. A powerful attraction for avid investors, but, equally, a huge challenge for a damaged company with falling oil prices.
In addition to the temptation of large returns for investors, there are other offers: a reduction in royalties and a reduction in the tax bill. However, it is not now easy for Bin Salman to achieve the target valuation of two billion dollars. And in the case of reaching it, to maintain it. The truth is that Riyadh will now have to settle for a third or a quarter of the $100 billion it had hoped to raise.
It is worth noting that through these operations, the Saudi crown hopes to carry out projects to reduce oil dependence. And to sponsor the Kingdom’s asymmetrical modernization desires.
For the time being, the prince has sat back and waited for an improvement in the company’s share price, which is not forthcoming because there is no peace in the region. And there is not because he himself, with his assassinations (Jamal Khashoggi), kidnappings (the Prime Minister of Lebanon), failed conquests (Yemen) and excessive rancor (Iran), does not allow it.
The cliffs of the Kingdom
The Western media, echoing the statements of the Saudis, portray the Houthis as an upstart gang, composed of backward beings.
Similarly, they present the invasion and the continuation of the war in Yemen as a kind of holographic projection of a regional struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A flat view of a complicated issue.
The evidence of Iran’s participation in this conflict is as vaporous as that offered by Pompeo, via Twitter, of Iran’s authorship of the attack on Aramco.
The truth is that the evidence of Iran’s involvement in the conflict has turned out to be vaporous. As much as Mr. Pompeo’s Twitter tweet after tweet of Iranian responsibility for the attack on Aramco. And as outlandish as the faded cardboard Netanyahu displays, year after year, before the UN Assembly. Those pertaining to the alleged secret Persian nuclear weapons program (Presstv, 2019).
The desperation of the invader
The matrix is not new. Earlier, in May, an Arab oil pipeline was attacked by the Houthis, and, then, several oil tankers. The Saudis soon blamed Iran. In a communiqué, it was stated that the Iranian actions constituted “serious violations” of international law. And that they could be “considered war crimes,” the Saudis argued.
The accusation came through a rhetorical and bellicose speech by King Salman. And an orchestrated display of pieces of Iranian weapons by Colonel Turki al Malki, none other than the spokesman for the Arab military coalition intervening in Yemen.
The growing acceptance of the Houthis among the Yemeni population is easy to trace in the oppressive policies of Saleh and Hadi, their surrender to the US and Saudi Arabia, and to the IMF, WB and WTO.
And they found the right way, the right place and the right juncture: three summits (of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation). In Mecca, during the holy month of Ramadan (DW, 2019).
In customary response, the Arab coalition aircraft then swooped down bluntly, this time, on “legitimate targets.” They carried out “precise” bombing raids against Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Well, not so precise. Yemen’s Ministry of Health reported that at least 6 civilians were killed and 32 wounded (El Espectador, 2019).
The resistance has reasons
With regard to the publicized profile of the Houthis, equally, nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that for a long period they were relegated to the small area of a marginalized province. And it is true that at first glance it would seem strange that in a short time their acceptance by heterogeneous sectors of the Yemeni population grew so much.
But the conditions for this are easy to trace. They were provided by the oppressive policies of the consecutive Saleh and Hadi governments, their decomposition and surrender to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Undoubtedly, in addition, by the infallible little help from the friends of both. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, with their measures and recommendations. For what else.
As Mark Aguirre (2019) notes: “The extraordinary thing is that these tribal peasants, adding first other tribal forces and then the ordinary people of the cities impoverished by neoliberalism, have been able to take power. And then firmly hold it in a brutal war of external aggression” (Viejo Topo).
A popular resistance
Yemen, certainly, is a land with a strong inertia of tribal partition and rifts. But the undignified cornering to which the intruders have driven the villagers, since 2015, likewise brought with it a feeling closer to the national.
This sentiment reinforces, more and more, the popular and massive character of the formations of those marginalized by the elites from within, and of those trampled by the bandits from all sides. In the eagerness to divide the country in order to plunder and usurp its territories, the assailants have united it even more. In short, Yemen proves it: There are no peaceful or controlled wars.
Six articles reviewed. Original publication: November 3, 2019. International channel portalHispantv.