In recent weeks a longstanding conflict between the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government has expanded to involve Saudi Arabia, which has been carrying out bombing raids within Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it is trying to enforce a buffer zone within Yemen to keep the rebels away from its border. In this post one Saudi blogger gives his view of the situation.
The Houthi rebels, named after Hussein Badreddin al Houthi, are Zaidi Shia who have been fighting the government of Yemen since June 2004, seeking greater autonomy in the north of the country where the Zaidis are a majority. Clashes between the rebels and Saudi Arabia began on November 4, with the rebels claiming they were responding to strikes by the Yemeni military from Saudi territory, and Saudi Arabia saying it was responding to incursions by the Yemeni rebels. The current conflict has affected civilians on both sides of the border, with casualties as well as large-scale displacement. Some commentators argue that this is just the most recent in a series of surrogate conflicts between Saudi Arabia (encouraged by the Yemeni government to fund anti-Zaidi Salafi groups) and Iran (accused of directly supporting the Houthi rebels), and the fear is that it may escalate into a greater regional confrontation.
Currently studying in the United States, Saudi blogger Khaled Al Ateeq is worried about the calls being made by some Saudi religious scholars, who are viewing this conflict purely in religious terms. He writes:
ما سبق حوار كان بين البروفسور أندرسون مواطن أمريكي مع أحد طلابة السعوديين المقيمين في بلاده….” مايجمع الإثنين هما طلب العلم فقط… لا الأرض ولا الدين ولا العرق ولا اللون “
I answered, “Yes, a group rebelling against the Yemeni government called the Houthis…They crossed the Saudi border and killed a Saudi soldier at first, and now the Saudi forces are doing what they must to clear the area.”
He asked me, “How are your family and the families of the other Saudi students in this university? Has anything happened to any of them?” I mentioned to you before that one of the students lost three relatives as they were defending their land. [The professor] said, word for word, “I am sorry to hear this news. Please extend my sorrow and condolences to your friend for his loss.” I thanked him for his kind thoughts, and left.
This conversation was between Professor Anderson, an American citizen, with one of the Saudi students that are resident in his country. “What unites the two is that they seek knowledge alone…They have no land, no religion, no race, no colour.”
اقرأ البيان الذي نشره مجموعة من الأشخاص وعنون بـ “بيان العلماء حول اعتداء الرافضة الحوثيي”
وقع هذا البيان من قبل إثنان وأربعون شخص … عدد منهم وضع حرف الدال قبل أسمة و جميعهم إبتدئوا أسمائهم بـ الشيخ
This statement has been signed by forty-two people – a number of them having put “Dr” before their name, and all of them beginning their name with “Sheikh”.
الأول : كان عن الدولة الإيرانية ومشروعها في نشر المذهب الشيعي وعلى حد قولهم ”وهو من أعظم ضروب الفساد في الأرض، الأمر الذي يوجب على جميع المسلمين أخذ الحيطة والحذر ومدافعة المد الرافضي ونشر مذهب أهل السنة” أيضاً ذكروا بأن السنة في إيران يواجهون العنف و الإرهاب من قبل حكومتهم لشيعية.
الثاني: كما جاء في بدايته “أن الجريمة السافرة التي قامت بها تلك الجماعة الرافضية التي تسمي نفسها بالحوثيين من انتهاك لأراضي بلادنا وفق مخطط صفوي فارسي يريد زعزعة أمننا، ليوجب الضرب عليها بيد من حديد”
1 – was about the Iranian state and its project to spread Shi'ism, to the extent of saying “and it is one of the greatest forms of corruption in the land, a matter which makes it incumbent on all Muslims to be cautious and on their guard, repel the spread of apostasy, and disseminate the Sunni doctrine”. In addition they mentioned that the Sunnis in Iran face violence and terrorism from their Shi'i government.
2 – as stated at its beginning, “The flagrant crime committed by this apostate group which calls itself the Houthis is a violation of the territories of our country, and is in accordance with the Safawi [Iranian] plan desiring to destabilise our security; this requires striking with an iron fist.”
الرابع: “نوصي إخواننا المرابطين على الثغور بإخلاص النية لله والتوجه الصادق بأن يكون عملهم من أجل إعلاء كلمة الله”.
الخامس: “ندعو جميع المسلمين في بلادنا إلى مواساة إخوانهم ممن تركوا ديارهم ومساكنهم من سكان المناطق الحدودية بسبب هذا العدوان الآثم.”
4 – “We advise our brothers that are standing guard on the frontlines to be sincere in their intentions for God and have true direction because their work is for the advancement of the word of God.”
5 – “We call on all Muslims in our country to look after their brothers amongst those living in the border areas who have left their homes because of this criminal aggression.”
السابع:”نوصي إخواننا مِنْ أئمة المسلمين وعامتهم بتقوى الله تعالى في السر والعلن، والتوبة إليه، فإن فشو الذنوب والمعاصي والمجاهرة بها وإعزاز المفسدين والتضييق على المصلحين، هو السبب الرئيس في اضطراب الأحوال، وزعزعة الأمن، فما نزلت مصيبة إلا بذنب ولا رفعت إلا بتوبة.”
7 – “We advise our brother leaders of Muslims and their peoples to be devoted to God both inwardly and outwardly, and turn to Him in repentance. The spread of sins and the open profession of them, the strengthening of those who are corrupt, and the oppression of those who are reformers, this is the main reason for these turbulent conditions and insecurity, for catastrophes only occur due to sin, and are not alleviated without repentance.”
– لا أعرف هل هذا البيان يخص عن إعتداء الحوثيين عن السعودية أم عن ماذا .. من السبع نقاط توجد ثلاث نقاط ذكرت الحرب نقطة إستنكار ونقطة لأهالي المناطق ونقطة دعوة المرابطين بان يصفون نيتهم.
- الإعتداء هو إعتداء مجموعة على حدود وطننا .. نعم تلك الجماعة تتلقى دعم من قبل إيران ولكن لو إفترضنا جدلاً بأن هنالك مجموعة مسلمة سنية خرجت على دولتها ثم إعتدت على السعودية … كيف سيعلق أولئك الموقعين . الإعتداء لا دين له من يعتدي على الأرض يطلق علية صفة المعتدي .
I don't know if this statement is concerned with the Houthi aggression against Saudi Arabia, or with what… Of the seven points there are three that mention the war, one point of denunciation, another for the people of the region, and a point calling for those who are standing guard to be pure of intent. This aggression is the aggression of a group against the borders of our nation… Yes, this group receives support from Iran, but if we assume for the sake of argument that there was a Sunni Muslim group which left its state and that committed an act of aggression against Saudi Arabia, how would those signatories comment? Aggression has no religion; someone who commits aggression against a country is simply an aggressor.
Khaled concludes by saying: