It was mid-2004 when I landed in Aden in connection with signing of an oil contract for our oil company with Aden refinery.

I met the CEO of the company over there that probably looked like an Indian and after the meeting he confirmed me that his forefathers like many Indians came here and settled here. Later on, he took me to the town near the port which looked like as if I was in Layari or Chakiwara. I found the Indo-Pak culture there.

My host added to my knowledge that the most of the oil concessions in Yemen are done in their tribal areas under Houthi control. These are the same tribes which are now fighting against the Government and Saudi Arabia

The tribal culture on the mountains of Yemen along the Saudi border looked to be the same as of FATA in our country. I saw it during my visit that even the children had guns in their hands in tribal areas of Yemen the way I used to see children with weapons in FATA as director FIA for more than three years. They have almost the same eating habits and their favourite food is meat like ours. Interestingly I found everyone in the evening enjoyed their bite of “ghat- green leaves “like our most of the Tribesmen enjoy the bite of “Naswar”.

I am privy to the fact that the operation going on in FATA forced the Afro-Arab terrorists to move towards Yemen which were duly supported by CIA.

In ancient times, Yemen was known as Arabia Felix, Latin for “happy” or “fortunate”. Today, Yemen is neither happy nor fortunate but it acquired the name because its high mountains attracted rain, making it more fertile than most of the Arabian Peninsula. The history of the Yemen stretches back over 3,000 years. From about 1000 BC this region of the Southern Arabian Peninsula was ruled by three successive civilisations -- Minean, Sabaean (Shabean) and Himyarite.

Yemen is claimed to be the ancient homeland of the Queen of Sheba (Balqis or Bilqis in Arabic). Her dealings with Hazrat Suleman are mentioned in the Bible and the Qur’an. The Story of him converting the Queen to Islam by influencing her through his deeds of morality by not accepting bribe and being strict when it came to shirk and kufr, is mentioned in Surah An-Naml of Quran. He later married her and let her rule Yemen.

This historically rich country Yemen has people mainly of Arab origin, many of which is Saudi nationals and is still a largely tribal society. In the northern, mountainous parts of the country, there are some 400 Zaidi tribes.

Even Osama bin Laden’s family lived in Wadi Doan in southern Yemen before immigrating to Saudi Arabia. In the early 1990s, Muslim volunteers who had fought against Soviet troops in Afghanistan moved to Yemen and the country has had a jihadist presence ever since.

There was a time when Yemen and Saudi Arabia used to have close ties. It was the West, which didn’t like the idea of friendly ties between them so it decided to destabilise Middle East especially through Yemen.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Yemen became tense when Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri; a member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attempted to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of the Interior, Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009, in a suicide bombing. The attempt however had failed as the prince was only slightly injured but the bomber had died on the spot. The attack became the initial cause of wedge between the two countries as this was the first assassination attempt against a royal family member since 2003.

Yemen was ruled for a millennium by Zaydi Shia imams until 1962, and the Houthis were founded as a Zaydi Shia revivalist movement. However, the Houthis have not called for restoring the imamate. Rather; their demands have been primarily economic and political in nature. Houthi rebels are always seeking to over throw the Government as they did before as well by executing their former President. They are willing to retain control of Yemen as they do not want a Sunni to be the head of the State. Currently a Civil war is going on in Yemen between the Government and Houthis have now control much of northern Yemen, having taken over the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and pushed the Hadi government into exile in November 2015.They want total control over the Yemen as the globally-important Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal of Yemen sits on the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait through which much of the world’s oil shipments pass. This is why in 2015; Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to defeat the Houthis in Yemen. The coalition now includes Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. Several of these countries have sent troops to fight on the ground in Yemen.

This tug of war is still continued between Saudi and Yemen where Iran has become a party. The tension has been growing rapidly and it clearly has become the replica of Afghan vs. Taliban war like the situation in FATA.

Saudi Arabia suspects that Iran is funding this Houthi movement and training these subversive activists to take control of the long, porous border which it shares with Yemen. Due to this on-going war, from March 2015 to December 2017, 8,670–13,600 people have been killed in Yemen, including more than 5,200 civilians, as well as estimates of more than 50,000 dead as a result of an ongoing famine due to the war.

Saudi Arabia has been dragged with an agenda in this Yemen War whereas Iran is also tricked into it by using religious card. USA has also jumped in the war leaving un-finished agenda in Syria to protect its own economic agenda to have his share in oil and defense sale but also simultaneously oblige Israel as Iran continues to threat Israel.

It has been decided by the leadership of Middle East including Saudi Arabia to rehabilitate the displaced persons and reconstruction of Yemen.

The Saudi backed President Abdullah Saleh was killed by Houthis and now only a city in the radius of 32 kilometer is under the control of the Yemeni Government, whereas the rest of the country is with the rebels.

The reconstruction by a non-Muslim force is not being accepted by the rebels. According to inside reports the rebels may agree to have Pak Army to play its role in construction and rehabilitation of the country.

I think it is right to say that Saudi Arabia at present does not need Pak political or diplomatic support but rather it has dire need of our unmatched abilities of Pakistan Army which was earlier declined because of our internal unrest caused by terrorism.

I think this is high time that Pakistan should fully support Saudi Arabia to counter their internal and external threats. We should help our Saudi brothers unconditionally without anything in return.

Middle East looks to be in continued troubles because of Daesh and other pressing internal & external developments after the murder of a Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The international pressure may increase more in coming weeks and is likely to add to the problems of Saudi Arabia. If USA withdraws its forces from Saudi Arabia, it will create huge unbalance of power in the region. In this emerging crisis situation, only Pakistan can help in countering these internal and external pressures and in the meantime Pakistan should play its role to bring Iran & Saudi on the table to sort out their issues respectively. Pakistan must take the leadership of UAE into confidence as one of the major player and supporter of global peace.

In other words, Mr Prime Minister, I suppose that it is not mediation which is required between Saudi Arabia & Yemen but the military and political support of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia is needed to resolve and to protect their interests. Moreover, it is our duty to protect our holy places at any cost making it an opportunity for Pakistan to create peace and harmony in Middle East. Pakistan can also make Iran realize about the devastating effects of armed conflict between Iran and Middle East as this is what I wanted President Nijad and the then Supreme leader of Iran to understand when I acted as mediator.

I propose a debate on camera over this issue and if Pakistan receives any such offer, let there be support for our Saudi brothers. Let us not sell this support rather lend it as a token of friendship towards Saudis the way they supported us in the past in our difficult times.

The above views are personal and do not necessarily represent my party’s policy.

 

The writer is Chairman of think tank “global eye” & former Interior Minister of Pakistan.

 rmalik1212@gmail .com

@GlobalEye_GSA