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tv   Inside Story 2020 Ep 174  Al Jazeera  June 23, 2020 3:32am-4:01am +03

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hodge this year because of coronavirus the kingdom's allowing only a limited number of saudi citizens and residents to make the pilgrimage and social distancing measures will be enforced annual event only attracts around $2000000.00 people from around the world and other news the french president has accused turkey of playing a dangerous game by providing military support to libya's internationally recognized government emanuel says turkey is an obstacle to securing a ceasefire calls are growing for a political solution to the crisis palestinian protesters are condemning israeli towns to an expanse of the occupied west bank the un's middle east envoy was among several diplomats of the mass rally in jericho israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu is vying to begin the attic station on july the 1st. and those are the headlines the news continues here on al-jazeera after inside story good bye.
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why did separatists in southern yemen seize a remote island in the arabian sea fighters backed by the united arab emirates are accused of carrying out a coup. so what makes the island so valuable to yemen or insights this is a story. hello and welcome to the program i am wrong on the latest flashpoint in yemen's 5 year civil war is a remote island in the arabian sea the quarter is sometimes compared to the famous galapagos islands in the pacific. the plants and animals on the world heritage
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sites are found nowhere else on earth now they're in a war zone the sudden transitional council have deposed the island's governor and declared itself are all the southern yemen fighters are backed by the united arab emirates yemen's internationally recognized government supported by saudi arabia calls the takeover a coup. explains how the latest events further complicate efforts to end the war. celebrating the new military gains forces loyal to the self supplies southern transitional council to see took full control of. the archipelago is located in the arabian sea overlooking vital oil and gas shipping routes through the gulf of aden and of the red sea this is a major victory for the u.a.e. backed separatists who took over the city of aden 2 years ago and further expand
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that influence by announcing sell through in the south in april. by seizing so katra the s.t.c. moves closer to words achieving their goal breaking away from the north and reinstating the republic of south yemen that existed until 1990 when it was united with the north the internationally recognized government of president i'll double months for her he condemned the action by the s.t.c. as a coup based in saudi arabia had he and his our allies feel betrayed by their hosts in riyadh what. will be what happened in sokoto is an occupation by the saudis and the immoralities i call in the government to resign and seek another honest partner. 5 years ago saudi arabia and the u.a.e. launched a major military campaign in yemen their stated goal was to defeat the who thiis as
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she grew that seized the capital sanaa into 1014. the saudis and the emirates accuse iran of using the who these to destabilize the region of a campaign still turned into a humanitarian disaster. thousands of civilians were killed millions face. the u.n. considers yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. the separatists have. likely to turn their attention to the provinces of. the last areas in the south until the control of these loyalists. the latest developments are likely to undermine the u.n. . and the war in yemen and start political talks between warring factions. the country now is more divided than ever raising fears among its people over
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a prolonged conflict more casualties and more suffering. let's bring in our guests in london ryan when a research fellow on yemen at the european council for relations in washington d.c. in the united states now bill horry senior researcher at the atlantic council for studies he's also a former u.s. deputy chief of mission in yemen and also in london elizabeth kandel senior research fellow in arabic and islamic studies at the university of oxford a warm welcome to you all i want to start in london where the ryman. not only by any terms of international law is this a effectively a coup but it's an occupation who's behind this and why did it happen now. it's a very good question and it's very difficult also called the next station or
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a coup because the acts have been committed on the ground by a proxy so the southern transitional council which is a u.a.e. backed group or non group 2 or non-state actor whichever you'd like to call them has basically announce their takeover of the island of sokoto and this has been done almost not violently but through an agreement that the governor of sokoto would leave the island and with the auspices of saudi arabia to try to sort of negotiate a deal between the united arab emirates backed group and the internationally recognized government of yemen which is represented by the governor i believe this has taken place because of the harsh battles have been going on between the international recognized government and the s.t.c. in southern yemen particularly in the governorates and shabwah. as we see it there have been really heavy battles for the past months and tensions have been going on for a long time and so it may seem that the takeover of sokoto might be a small victory or sort of to a distraction from the main battles that are going around it maybe perhaps to raise
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the morale of the separatists in the south or it just might be a provocative move. let's bring in washington d.c. here in the real who are in the bill you've had extensive experience in yemen what does it mean is it like august in london says this is a moral victory for the separatists or is it much more strategic them. well it is certainly a propaganda victory and a sign that this is see is already taking. not only off their expansion in the south but they are advertising popular support for their takeover all shook up their. set digitally this doesn't add anything to their strengths now ireland is somewhat. of the main areas where battles are going it is all said t.j. back to you only to the united arab emirates which has been on
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a course for the past few years of extending its influence to see poor it's. all the way from dubai to north africa so this is clearly of value to them but as far as the seeing anything they went militarily particularly with you isa poor does not lend itself to long term stability they would gain much more by coming to some sort of an agreement with other factions in yemen well agreements are very very far off a list but ken let me bring you in here. the unspoken word it seems to be hail the unspoken name of a country is iran clearly the u.a.e. a very worried about iranian actions in the reason in the region to soko to give them any sort of counterbalance. well i think you are right to
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bring in iran clearly the u.a.e. and other gulf countries are concerned about iran flexing its muscles in the region about its inroads into yemen but i would see this more as a commercial and strategic agenda on the part of the u.a.e. that has been protectable really for the past half a decade u.a.e. showed its interest in sickle trial and really right from the start of the war and matters have come to a head on several occasions perhaps most most prominently in may 2080 when yemeni government forces supported by saudi battled u.a.e. forces but clearly this has been part of a strategy of the u.a.e. for the horn of africa region for a while and simply that this is now being completed via proxies the southern
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transitional council and it was predictable for a long time what it does is it gives the u.a.e. and a strategic outpost right at the mouth of that very important gulf of aden which is the sea routes through to the towards the red sea through which much oil shipping goes and it fits with that strategy in other countries around the region djibouti somalia eritrea and of course has its own value it's very beautiful island it could be a commercial exploitable so i think we need to see this within a broader framework not just that of countering iran. romanov hummed what are your thoughts you think we should be seeing this in a broader framework. i think so i think perhaps i mean there are obviously tensions with iran but it's been also shady the united arab emirates and iran have been engaged in military talks to sort of settle their own tensions previously they have
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also acted together with iran they also have historical and cultural ties with iran and maybe perhaps to provoke iran i wouldn't really take that off the menu but but but the thing is as a doctor as with cancer had said is that it is quite distant and also the investment in sokoto and then the horn of africa is probably going to deplete a lot of the money of the united arab emirates so i see it as more also as a as an attempt by the u.a.e. to sort of stand out in the region and i don't think the united states will be able to do so near the islands that they have a conflict with iran with iran and so it's a bit difficult because the conflict no longer in yemen represents or is seen through the eyes of there are an iranian militia in the south anymore and so the conflict actually is the conflict of the yemeni government and the united arab emirates directly and obviously proxy actors are involved i would say the iranian question may be more valid if you're answering questions about the conflict in the
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north well let's have a look at when it is a very complicated conflict. the u.a.e. has actually changed its position a couple of times during this long conflict in yemen generally it was fighting on the on the part of the saudis it was you know an alloy and then it suddenly took a step but what's behind this move is it to reassert itself. well 1st of all. on their own question this has absolutely nothing to do with iran or the whole tears i have never threatened to call their own and are in no position to approach it as for your own day cannot i don't think they even think about to call true but if they were to try it it's the us navy and it will be solved so that's not an excuse. now the u.a.e. . withdrew its own traverses from yemen but it has not withdrawn in
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central it's a lot of the militias and hug them out are formed funded trained equipped why do you eat that's the sea has considerable support from the u.a.e. therefore this is an extension of influence by proxy. the why now i think there is an agreement now there was a while there was a bit of a conflict between saudi arabia and the u.a.e. but i think now there is an agreement between them because the saudis clearly are not supporting the forces not on. where saudi will do its small force and not in heavy clashes are going on hot and heavy without any saudi participation that's interesting the bill you mentioned american involvement there we are running up to an election in november there are plenty of other
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conflicts that president donald trump should be concerned about but if it does nothing likely to happen. it's going almost be forgotten we're into given libya given syria given myriad other nights as a complex in the region. well. tom personally i'm sure doesn't think about yemen let alone or so-called terrorists such he leaves this foreign policy issues to the department of defense and the secretary of state. search us policy has continued as before which is lending support to saudi arabia and the u.a.e. in terms of the siege around yemen in terms of logistical support. and in that there isn't much of
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a change and there's no need for us to do anything concerning what just happened in sokoto rahman no harm done in london and what can be done then if the u.s. is going to do anything what the international community's has been hamstrung let's say for the last 4 years 5 years when it comes to yemen it's a conflict that is absolutely brutal what can be done. i think that's a very difficult question to answer but i think we can sort of. hypothesize what could be done i think i think the united arab emirates and the saudi arabians very well know that they once entered the yemen that they could sort of get a car blanche to do whatever they can because of lessons previously learned during the cold war of proxy proxy actors and so it's very difficult at the moment to sort of the the proxy narrative from perhaps the south of yemen even the north of yemen and sort of see that the thing is now we have to settle the differences among the
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foreign backers there are serious and very clear differences between the saudi arabians and the iraqis the the conflict between the saudis and the iraqis is seeming to simmer down by actions like this perhaps the move is an attempt by the saudis to sort of give the iraqis what they want while these still maintain their priorities in yemen i think i think the most important thing and i think it's something that really should just be said out loud is that it is a world heritage place as dr kendall has mentioned it has a very it could be very exploited for for the cause of economic rapid development but the island presents a fragile ecosystem with an indigenous population who have been extremely quickly being exposed to the outside world and as a matter of fact even in the past has been very detached from the russian troops from british troops from southern yemeni troops and from yemen at the moment you know looking at the harsh realities on the ground and the violence that's occurring in that be and i would hope that the s.t.c. that the united emirates and the saudi arabians will actually acknowledge so
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fragile ecosystem acknowledge the sokoto his demand for a better life and as a matter and to avoid bringing sectarianism onto the island i mean we have seen the united their member united arab emirates representative to them as rory in multiple videos going around the island telling circuitries who i don't think know very much about modern islam or the islam that's been practiced in the past 60 years in the middle east but going around telling them that the north of yemen is ours right. which is a derogatory term to call shia people and i think sort of bringing that sectarian tone to an island that is on armed an island that is very very involved in its own environment i just think if we detach these things and we put the tension to it to the world perhaps perhaps the environmental organizations might have something to say let's bring in elizabeth kendall here is very interesting point that. roman actually brings up i've seen some of those videos as well they are quite shocking the language is used almost as an insult to people in the north and it is bringing
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this idea of a. conflict to an island likes a culture which isn't really that religious certainly not that islamic. concerns right that it is a concern to me it's part of my broader concern which is that somehow in all of this the actual people of. tend to get lost and we've got these big heavyweight world powers slugging it out on their little island what what i'm really concerned about is what the some cells actually want now of course the southern transitional council says that they have huge support and indeed they do have some support aunts a culture but so does the yemeni government and so frankly does the old sultanate serve marans the culture that too has support so it would be good to ask the actual people what they want i noticed that in the truth that was well short lived but negotiated last wednesday on. it was really just between the coalition powers it
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was between saudi arabia the saudi led coalition scarcely forces and the southern transitional council forces and that really tacitly acknowledged that the southern transitional council had some kind of toehold grip on the island and that its forces could be that but i would like to see some serious transparent polling done . for what the sick options themselves want now and what i don't think we can believe is the story peddled by both of the main parties in the coalition that they are on soko in order to conduct development operations for yemen and that was the idea when they negotiated that trace in 2018 frankly to launch an occasion to launch some kind of development operation from an island which is 380 kilometers off the main coast of yemen when most of those areas that now need investment and development are 1000 kilometers away in the north of yemen it's not credible now
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bill horry what do you think development is that just a ruse. of course it's a truce. like many other things they signed including very odd agreement. it is very opaque they don't truly express what their real interests are. as elizabeth says their further their goal was development they would've done that and how then anywhere in the south anywhere in the areas they control they haven't done much at all in fact you look at the spread of the coronavirus in yemen causing a disaster upon and there's us. while the u.a.e. and it's the european union that has lately contributed money in areas and how they're marked and the south not the saudis and the rockies the best thing they can
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do if they really want development. is to leave the island alone it has a very fragile ecosystem and they are destroying it with the presence of far more vehicles and troops running right down to the beaches lovely beaches which i visit that when i was and yemen this is best left alone for eco tourism and not for major development which they don't intend to do anyway. or run on in london what are your thoughts you think that this is about development or not about development. i think i think it is to a certain degree i also think that if i think i disagree with mr bill fleury in the sense that psychiatrist should be alone yes i'm obviously can be a beneficial thing for the island but there is no reason why psychiatry should be held behind while other people in the world are benefiting from the neo liberal world order i'm sorry i'm not
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a supporter of the neo liberal world order but there are. trends have been deprived from education from health facilities for modernization for decades and this actually makes plain why there is actually sympathy to the united arab emirates when they come with lavish amounts of money and a lot of developmental projects it's very quick to lure people and i think i think we also need to consider one thing there are there's also a huge campaign by the united arab emirates in sokoto to sort of establish or really connect a heritage a line that's existed between sokoto and the united arab emirates now now a lot of yemenis particularly mainland yemen may disagree with this and see it as something that's completely flawed however there are actually very strong links between sokoto and united emirates maybe not written historically but particularly since the 70s in the eighty's. have been immigrants to the gulf particularly the city of man has a lot of support for the nationals and the have that regain the iraqi nationals and this sort of money has been coming in since the 70s until now so there is
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a cultural connection so so we have to sort of understand these no one says i think the neighborhood is right to say that yes the island is there fit for eco tourism but there are serious grievances in the island particularly that these grievances were not shown to them by the yemeni government in the past but rather displayed to them by the united arab emirates when they have the road on the island and so little of me just ask you this seems to be a slight a very slight disconnect between both of your arguments you're talking here about development and that might be a good thing by the u.a.e. but earlier you did say the united arab emirates generals were you know talking about the russians they were insulting people in the north saying they weren't muslim enough aren't you worried. with development comes but sort of stereotyping to use one word yes i think so i think the disconnect is basically maybe from development and sectarianism i think the island definitely needs development i don't think the united arab emirates is only there to just lie about development and take over the un and i think there are some serious concerns at the
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ritz may want to be maybe we don't we then maybe we don't that's a different question but i am absolutely concerned about the way the hearts and minds of so called friends have been won and not just by the united emirates also but also by the any government the go to an identity has been exploited by everybody i think i think i think as i said what has to be what we have to be careful is that these development all programs whether it be guys or whether it be legitimate it has to be done under the approval of the any government which is internationally recognized and that's basically how things go under the united nations system in this book and we are running out of time but i do just want to ask you you're an expert in arabic and islamic studies are offered university is there any chance that the u.a.e. might have some good benign attitudes towards a quarter or is a quarter island or is the u.a.e. simply using it as another tool in their arsenal. it's far from me
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to say what is in the u.a.e. mind i keep an open mind i can't see how this will benefit the soko people themselves unless it comes with a really transparent open mechanism for choosing what they want for their future and this kind of democracy isn't really a u.a.e. 40 fortec what i what concerns me now is will there be knock on effects in the rest of yemen we've already seen since saturday's takeover we've already seen 2 s.t.c. rallies and in the far east of yemen and we've seen protests this morning in mccalla and had remarked so it could be that this is part of now a domino effect where they try to topple other areas of the south this flies in the face of all of the u.n. staff or to engage the warring sides in peace consultations well i want to thank
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all our guests we are unfortunately out of time robin i'll handle any of this with kendall and bill horry and thank you too for watching you can see the program again any time by visiting a website al-jazeera dot com and for further discussion go to our facebook page that's facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story and you can also join the conversation on twitter we are at a.j. inside story from iraq on and the whole team here in doha life and out.
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