Yemen may be slated as the poorest country in the Arab region, but it is emerging as posing the most potent threat to Israel.
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Yemen may be slated as the poorest country in the Arab region, but it is emerging as posing the most potent threat to Israel. In the past week, the Yemenis have detained three Israeli cargo ships as they transit through the Red Sea.
There is poetic justice in this. Yemen doesn’t have much oil reserves. It has been devastated by more than eight years of war and famine, and yet it is showing a strength that puts so-called rich Arab and Muslim nations to shame over their venality and lack of integrity.
While Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates corner vast oil wealth and Muslim leaders like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk tough, it is war-torn, impoverished Yemen that is taking any meaningful stand against Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
Strategically located at the southern end of the Red Sea – a vital international shipping route – Yemen effectively has a veto on which vessels can pass through its territorial waters.
The Yemeni armed forces and the country’s Houthi rebel movement have declared solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocidal onslaught by Israel since October 7. They warn that all Israeli vessels will be blocked from passing into or out of the Red Sea.
The Yemenis are making good on their threat. The latest Israeli ship to be interdicted is reported to be an oil tanker.
Closing down the sea route will severely impact the Israeli economy. It means that all shipping from Israel to Asia will have to be circumnavigated by South Africa instead of using the much shorter route through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
The Yemenis have also been firing missiles at Israel in retaliation for the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. Hezbollah in Lebanon has likewise been targeting Israel with missiles. Both groups are linked to Iran but there is no evidence that Tehran is coordinating the attacks.
However, it is the economic weapon wielded by the Yemenis that may prove more damaging to Israel.
Ironically, it is supposedly much stronger and richer Arab and Muslim nations that are doing little by comparison.
On November 11, some 57 national leaders met in the Saudi capital of Riyadh under the auspices of the Arab-Islamic Summit. There was much condemnation at the event of Israel’s barbaric offensive against Palestinians. But there was little action of consequence. Notably at the Riyadh conference, Iran urged the oil-producing nations to impose an embargo on Israel. Tehran’s calls were rebuffed.
Arguably, the Arab oil giants of Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not supply Israel with significant quantities. Therefore, it could be contended that an embargo would have little impact.
Nevertheless, if the Saudis and other Gulf oil sheikhdoms were to warn of a general international embargo, the potential impact on the global economy would doubtless get the attention of Washington and European allies to put pressure on Israel to implement a full ceasefire – not short-term “pauses” – and permit desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza and the West Bank.
In truth, the Arab and Muslim nations have by and large been pathetic in their lack of action to relieve the Palestinians. Historically, this abject failure of solidarity has always been thus. Egypt and Jordan share borders with Israel. Where are their armies threatening to forcibly breach the murderous Israeli blockade?
Perhaps the most shameful figure is Turkey’s President. Recep Erdogan has, as usual, been shooting his big mouth off towards Israel and lamenting the suffering of “Palestinian brothers”.
Turkey could put a decisive squeeze on Israel by halting the flow of oil from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. That route delivers nearly half of all Israel’s imported oil. The port of Ceyhan in southern Turkey is the loading point for tanker ships to the Israeli terminals at Haifa and Ashkelon.
Erdogan has ignored calls to ban the BTC oil shipments to Israel from Turkey. Even though such a move could cripple the Israeli economy and its war machine.
Following the Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi rebels denounced the cowardice and avarice of other leaders. As quoted by Press TV, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said: “The silence of the Arab and Islamic nations regarding the Gaza tragedy is a major crime and everyone must take action to lift this siege and support the people of Gaza… What is happening in the Gaza Strip reveals the extent of the oppression that the Palestinian people are experiencing, along with a very unfortunate Arab and Islamic failure.”
Of course, first and foremost the Israeli regime and its Western sponsors are culpable for the genocide in Gaza and the historic oppression against the Palestinians. But equally what needs to be addressed is the accountability of Western-backed Arab and Muslim leaders who have long dealt with duplicity and treachery towards the Palestinian plight.
Turkey runs with the foxes and the hounds as it plays the populist card condemning Israel but keeps the oil flowing. Turkey is a loyal member of NATO and supports the Nazi regime in Kiev in the US-led proxy war against Russia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE waged their own genocidal war against Yemen with American, British and French weapons since 2015. These Arab despots are compromised up to their eyeballs in being the lapdogs for U.S. imperialism. Any wonder then that they do nothing to stop the slaughter of Palestinians? How can they be expected to help Palestinian “brothers” when they are exterminating Yemeni brothers?
Erdogan fancies himself as a great Islamic sultan figure. The Saudis and their Gulf cronies have delusions of royal grandeur.
However, in their real, gut-felt and active brotherly solidarity with Palestinians, the war-torn, impoverished, famine-stricken and long-suffering Yemenis have more nobility in their dusty sandals than all the fine-suited potentates put together.