Iran, Russia Seeing Eye to Eye on Solving Yemeni Crisis: Italian Analyst

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A prominent political expert based in the Italian city of Milan said Russia’s recent vetoing of a British-drafted resolution against Iran and Yemen at the United Nations Security Council proves that Tehran and Moscow have “a common idea” about how to end the Yemeni crisis.

“Iran and Russia have designed and agreed on a grand strategy that goes beyond the Middle East and the Persian Gulf,” Federico Pieraccini said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

“The vote in the UNSC shows that Tehran and Moscow have a common idea on solving the Yemeni crisis and this does not involve sanctioning Iran that has little to do with the destruction being portrayed on the country by Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer and political expert based in Milan, Italy. He specializes in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies. He has covered conflicts in Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: As you know, Russia blocked a British-drafted resolution against Iran and Yemen at the United Nations Security Council on Monday. The resolution, which was strongly backed by the US, sought a “condemnation” of Iran for allegations of violating an arms embargo on war-torn Yemen. Iran has repeatedly dismissed as “baseless” claims about arms supply to Yemen. In a recent meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Iran’s permanent representative to the world body, Gholam Ali Khoshroo, warned the UNSC that its support for any unilateral measure can aggravate the situation in Yemen. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia opposed the draft, saying it should be about renewing the work of experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen, not condemning Iran. What is your take on Russia’s move to veto the UK-drafted resolution? Do you not think that it was another defeat for the US-led Western alliance in the face of Iran?

Pieraccini: Iran and Russia have designed and agreed on a grand strategy that goes beyond the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Some details of the strategy may be different from time to time, but the main objectives are the same: contrasting terrorism and building peace and prosperity in the region. Russia finds itself in the role of mediating between different parties to reach these broader agreements. There are many examples, other than Syria, where Tehran and Moscow have decided to pursue a common objective. Yemen is one of these scenarios. The reason is mainly related to the humanitarian disaster in the country after years of the Saudi bombing.

Many in the west believe that the Houthis have Iran backing them while no evidence has been presented to sustain this claim. On the other hand, Western powers and their allies in the region such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia accuse Tehran of arming the resistance in Yemen, handing over to the Houthis renewed capabilities in firing long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia as seen in recent months. Riyadh and its allies blame Iran for the Houthis’ capabilities to resist the Saudi-led coalition’s bombings. The reality on the ground shows that the Saudis have shown very little capabilities to fight, hold territory and impose their rule of law.

Yemen is the poorest Arab country and Saudi Arabia the richest, but this does not seem to be enough to break the Houthis’ heroic resistance. The missing factor that the Saudis and their Western friends fail to understand is the Yemeni army fighting alongside the Houthi resistance. That is where Yemen’s major military capabilities come from. This also explains why Saudi Prince Bin Salman is so furious: the Yemeni army has been, for years, acquiring offensive and defensive weapons from the Saudis. Riyadh now sees the consequences of ships and planes being brought down thanks to their arms.

Once again, the vote in the UNSC shows that Tehran and Moscow have a common idea on solving the Yemeni crisis and this does not involve sanctioning Iran that has little to do with the destruction being portrayed on the country by Saudi Arabia.

Tasnim: The UN children’s agency has recently said the ongoing Saudi aggression against Yemen has killed or injured more than 5,000 children and left another 400,000 severely malnourished and fighting for their lives. UNICEF said nearly 2 million Yemeni children were out of school, a quarter of them since the start of the war. In the meantime, the Saudi-led war on Yemen has led to a cholera epidemic in Yemen, which is one of the worst ever recorded in the world. The epidemic is likely to surge again around March, according to media reports. What do you think about the Saudi crimes in the Arabian Peninsula country? Why does the UNSC not impose sanctions against Riyadh?

Pieraccini: The conditions of the population in Yemen are desperate. Rarely war has produced such a harsh environment after the end of World War 2. Tens of reports have come out in the last years showing the condition of poverty, diseases and death among the people of Yemen. Saudi bombing has devastated every means of survival: food, water, medicines and shelters. Since there is little reporting from the country, it’s very difficult to spread information about the conditions on the ground, nevertheless, every person that has been to Yemen has spoken about a situation completely out of hand with possibly the worst cholera epidemic in decades. Saudi Arabia, assisted by its western pals like the US and Britain, is committing one of the worst war crimes in recent history.

Tens of thousands of human beings have died; hundreds of thousands have lost everything they possessed and possibly even more people will die in the future without fundamental necessities such as clean water and hospitals. The hypocrisy of the west is embarrassing: mainstream media spreads fake news coming out of Syria talking about hospitals bombed by the Syrian Government Air Force while the Saudi led coalition has been targeting civilians on purpose since 2014, committing mass murders as only Daesh and other (terrorist) proxies have done in recent years.

The United Nations is even more embarrassing in its actions, having nominated Saudi Arabia on the human rights council. A country that has violated practically every single law on the subject. What drives the UN in these absurd decisions is money and impositions made by higher powers like the US and Britain that have much interest to favor Riyadh instead of Tehran.

Tasnim: Some Western countries that claim to be champions of human rights are pursuing double-standard policies on Saudi Arabia's atrocities. How do you see the role of Washington and London in the Riyadh regime’s heinous crimes against Yemen?

Pieraccini: Washington and London have a great interest in two things regarding Yemen and Saudi Arabia: defending their main arms buyer and limiting Iran’s influence in the region. Naturally, war is a great solution for Washington and London to sell even more weapons to the Saudi regime. At the same time, they see Saudi Arabia’s actions as a pushback against Iran, even though, as explained previously this is more than delusional. What London and Washington are even more bent on is Israel’s aggressive attitude towards Iran.  This has incentivized the USA and the UK to back Riyadh even further, assisting the Saudis with logistics, training, command and control centers and signal intelligence.

The war on Yemen for Washington is just one aspect of the grand strategy in that part of the world. Geography plays a big role in Washington’s interests: the Gulf of Aden is strategic since it links to the Red Sea and there through the Suez channel to the Mediterranean. Washington is more than focused on every choking point from Asia to Europe as a strategy to contain China’s continues maritime expansion. The Gulf of Aden is only 18 miles wide and whoever controls that portion of the coast has a great capability to limit this vital transit route. No surprise that China has created one of its first military bases right in Djibouti, just on the other shore of the Gulf of Aden.

Certainly, Britain and the US are playing the anti-Iran game with the Saudis but Washington has a broader view and allowing the Gulf of Aden to fall into the hands of the Houthis is a red line the US is not willing to conceive.

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