Oduu Haaraya

The Proxy War in the Middle East and the Plight of Oromo refugees

By Kassim Sheimo

The volatile Middle East has seen another cycle of violence between two powerful sect of Islam, namely the Saudi Sunni and Iran Shia counterpart. The Saudis are nervous about Iranian influence south of its border and its own suppressed Shia population in oil rich area of Western region of Damam and Southwest Shia population that see minimal or no benefit from the resources that comes out of their land. Yemen is descending into much internal strife and sectarian conflict since the eruption of Arab spring that shook the power base of tyrant government and ousted several dictators including the 30 years rule of Abdella Saleh of Yeman, Egyptian Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abdin Ali of Tunisia, and Mummar Gadafi of Libya. The serious of populous revolution of anti-government protesters and uprising had also paved ways for emergency of armed rebellion and sectarian religious tensions, and wars. This seemingly impregnable massive spontaneous revolution has only limited success in Tunisia. The turmoil and bloodshed following Tahrar Square of Egypt and many other countries brought about disappointment because of that movement failed to produce the anticipated democracy, rule of law, and stability of those nations. Beyond the call for social justice and economic reform, fare election, and equal representations, the hardline religious parties alienated the liberal youth movement that were in the heart of the revolutions either replaced those dictators or the military took over as in Egypt.

The Yemen’s ousted dictator also conspired and found to be active in assisting the Houthi rebels as part of his plan to return to power. He actually tried to negotiate with Riyadh that the situation in Yemen would be under control if he allowed to be reinstated in to his power. He has much influence among Yemen leading military commanders who refused to protect the current Western backed government and even seen allied with Houthi and facilitated their advance to control much swath of Yemeni land forcing the President to flee to Riyadh. The Yemen defense minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed is one of leading figure in Yemeni military to associate with Houthi in support of ousted dictator Abdella Saleh. Saleh is also trying playing in to the psychology of the west by portraying those oppose to Houthi as Al-Qaeeda by making them to raise the feared black flag in front of the media. Even though, Saleh has nothing to associate with Iran ideologically, he is just opportunist who has sensed the turmoil in the country to sabotage and destroy post revolution political process so as to return to power.

When it comes to the two regional players, the Saudi and Iran have never been friends. They always clashes here and there by complicating fragile countries like Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen. When Iran gave unconditional support to embattled Bashar Al-Assad of Syria to crush the Sunni led revolution against 10% of Alewite minority Shia who have been in power since the late Assad conquered the power through military coup d’état, the Saudis and some Sunni Gulf countries sent military and financial support to the oppositions that finally transformed to radical elements like Al Nursa and ISIS who are now branded as terrorist groups. The Saudis were responsible in creating Taliban and Al-Qaeeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan same way it created Al Nusra and ISIS now that it is too fighting against to quell the threat these groups pose to its own most brutal and corrupted monarchy system in the world.

The current Saudi action has outpouring support from Sunni dominated countries including Oman, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain, which are actively participating in bombing campaign whereas countries like Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Pakistan, and Turkish considering to dispatch armies to the region. Some in west also pledged to give military and intelligence support to the Saudi led campaign. Iran and Hezbollah of Lebanon on the other hand vehemently condemned the action being taken by Saudi as violation of sovereignty of Yemen and an act against international law. There is no word as of yet from Shia dominated government of Iraq. American has put its self in very odd position as it is trying to negotiate and settle the nuclear deal with Iran and confronting ISIS in Iraq through Shia dominated government of Iraq that receive military, human, and intelligence services from Iran and at the same time supporting the Saudi led coalition that intended to destroy the Shia Houthi rebellion in Yemen.

The complicated unrest in Yemen may have wider range of implication to regional and international instability. One may ask, would a real bombardment of Saudi led coalition make changes on the ground provided Shia Houthi and the ousted dictator Saleh able to rally the people around them? To me, it looks like they might be heading toward very complicated and lengthy war in the gulf of Yemen; the country that is very close to Ethiopia. Would Ethiopian current TPLF regime affected by this war? It is well documented that the Yemen dictator Saleh has very close relationship with dictatorial counterpart in Addis Ababa. Saleh believed to have farmland and private mansion in Ethiopia. Yemen was the destination for many Oromo refugee that flee the TPLF regime and those who are trying to cross to wealthy gulf countries. The lawlessness in Yemen created misery for almost 10th of thousands of Oromo that took refuge in that country. Awful atrocities and crimes against refugees in that country are reported since Yemen became the failed state and descended into chaos. This anarchism has exposed the refuge to an imaginable horror like illegal organ harvesting, human and organ trafficking, and organ mutilations. Even though Yemeni was considered the second home for 10th of thousands of Oromo refuges during the good days, it is now becoming the hell on earth for them. Some of the comp around the airport in Sana’a became the unintended victim of Saudi bombardment. The predicament of Oromo refugees in that country is heartbreaking with no insight to escape the danger from sky and from the below. When weak government like Somalia pledged to pull out its citizens out of war torn Yemen, the TPLF government has yet to say anything about the plight of refugee it caused in the first place. It is actually a matter of time before Ethiopia also descended into similar scenarios because the current statuesque is unsustainable.

The all-out war in Yemen and the involvement of Saudi and Iran will set the entire region on hell of fire. Unfortunately, the Yemeni, one of the poorest country but yet a breathtakingly beautiful country rich in history is in verge of collapse and becoming failed state due to the two dominant sectarian of Sunni Saudi and Shia of Iran.

Thank you

Kassim Sheimo

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