Scott interviews journalist Bas Spliet about the ongoing war in Yemen. Spliet reminds us that even though the Houthis are still referred to in most of the Western media as “rebels,” they have actually been ruling 80% of the country since 2014, and it’s really Saudi Arabia’s puppet ruler Mansour Hadi who is on the outside looking in. The people of Yemen continue to suffer terribly thanks to America’s support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE as they conduct a war of deliberate starvation and genocide there. President Trump could end this suffering with a single phone call.
Discussed on the show:
- “After Another ‘Coup’ in Aden, Which Government in Yemen Is ‘Legitimate’?” (Antiwar.com Original)
- “US maintains intelligence relationship with Houthis” (Al-Monitor)
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, shall welcome it’s Scott Horton shelf. I am the director of the libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com dot com, author of the book fool’s errand, time to end the war in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at scotthorton.org dot org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed full archive is also email@example.com. Slash Scott Horton show. All right, you guys introducing boss split. He is a master’s student in history and Arabic Studies at the University of Ghent, Belgium, where he researches the anti nuclear weapons movement in Europe of the early 1980s. That’s interesting. He is proficient in Arabic, traveled to Syria in 2018. And lived in Cairo, Egypt in 2019. And aspires to become an investigative journalist after graduation. Well, we sure as hell writes a great piece about Yemen, I can tell you that we’re running this one on anti war calm today. After another coup in Aden, which government in Yemen is legitimate. Welcome to the show, boss. How are you doing?
Bas Spliet 1:22
I’m doing very fine, Scott. Thanks for having me. I’m a fan of the show. So it’s an honor to be on.
Scott Horton 1:28
Oh, cool. Well, happy to hear that. And it was great to read this piece. I can tell. You’re really on the story here. So you know, I guess the the context is, obviously the conflict over who controls the port city of Aden down there in the south of Yemen. But you also give great context to the whole war. So I guess first of all, we’ll go ahead and take us back as you do to the fall of the Solid regime and the rise of the Houthis and the Hadi government, because you kind of have to set us up to understand the divisions in the south between the Hadi government, and the southern Transitional Council and so forth. So, go ahead and rewind and start wherever you think people need to hear.
Bas Spliet 2:24
Yes, we touch up on important points. And that is a complex conflict, but it’s not that difficult to unwind. So let’s try to do that. Basically, I will just from the start, say that I have listened to your conversations with NASA IV. And so you know, where I got maybe where I got the original idea of writing this article from, but I think what happens very recently, the coup in Aden really provides a window into that larger picture which we can spell out. And that is what basically what happened very recently was I think right now it’s a little over a week ago, the southern Transitional Council, which are separatists that are funded and supported by the United Arab Emirates, they did a coup in the port city of Aden as you as you mentioned, but it should be noted that this is not an isolated instance ever. for about the last two years. They have put to the test the unity of the Saudi led coalition as it is called, by sometimes taking over government institutions. And this is culminated especially last summer, there was heavy fighting between UAE support its forces and solid forces. There was an agreement to reality agreement and but now, this has somewhat been terminated because of the latest Who and there was some? Well, they have they have several things for now. But basically, there were there was nothing much reporting about it. It looks like the southern prejudiced no council still supports Aiden. And this is very ironic, because a them although it is not the capital center is it is an important city, which is supposed to serve as a temporary capital of the governments of Abu Abu Mansour, howdy. Who and now we’re about to wind Beck, who had been vice president of Yemen for 18 years ever since 1994, if I’m not mistaken, but when his presidents Adi under the sun was deposed in the Arab Spring, basically, the Gulf countries they came together and they broke its transition deal that puts the former vice president of documents with heavy in power and made him the new presidents. And it’s true like a couple of months later in the beginning of 2012. There was an election. I’m not sure if you can call it that because it was there was only one candidate on the on on the ballot box. And if you look go back at reports you and you see the picture, the ballot, the ballot is basically a picture of hair D and a circle very supposed to mark mark a finger. Yes notes. Only by explicitly writing no Derek, could you vote no. So it’s not really a democratic election. But and this is very important. America Secretary of State’s back then Hillary Clinton sets that, quote, it was an important step in Yemen’s brighter democratic future. And Victoria Nuland, another State Department official elaborated Under said there will be free and fair elections very soon. But basically that Sham election gave haddie a temporary, sorry international mandates for in two years time engaged in a transition towards democracy and after two years he should there should be free elections that obviously did not happen. And he became the new dictator. And as a result of that, because he was he was not there was there was no evidence that he was moving towards democracy. This is the reason why the hoodies in 2015 January 2015, they stormed the Capitol somehow, they kicked out. They kicked out howdy howdy fled to the south to Aden. And a couple of months later in March, he fled to Saudi Arabia. And once in Saudi Arabia, have been someone who was then the defense minister, later became the Crown Prince, as we all know. He set up a coalition of 10 Sunni Arab countries that would vow to re install Hattie in his rightful place because after all, he was the the legitimates ruler of the country as in their discourse At any rate, and ever since then, there has been a relentless, relentless, despicable war, as we all know, waged by that solid that coalition on the people of Yemen against the Hootie forces. But even though they have like installed blockades, they have reached a relentless bombing campaign and all sorts of other stuff. The Houthis this After five years of war, they still control the Capitol, five years. And they didn’t even come close to, to losing that control of the Capitol. At the same time that that President had he, he resides most of the time in Saudi Arabia. He isn’t even in Yemen most of the time. And, and even then, like, he has basically no control of the situation on the ground in Yemen, because you have the southern Transitional Council, the UAE, a back separatists, you have forces in his pay, but you also have all kind of ISIS running around to all sorts of people in the south that fight for power. At the same time in the north, there has been a relatively stable situation. Of course, there’s been much fighting but the Houthis have retains control for the capital and, more importantly, a control over 70 to 80% of the population for five Yours Yes, contrary to any reason Saudi Arabia and the Houthis are still called rebels, and and this is where like, I think they’re like in this now I will make my points and if you like in university, we can of course debate about that whether we agree or not, but the basic definition of what is estates according to Max Weber and this is like term socialists and socialists, history, sociologists of the 19th century, like who is revered today, like the basic definition of a function state, if you can, if you can control a monopoly of violence, I think it’s clear that the WHO DOES have done that for the last 555 years at least, under like over a vast amount of the population, the majority of the population were haddie the supposedly internationally recognized and legitimate ruler of Yemen has not. So I think we should change that this could be if we if we recognize that and starts calling the who these governments and recognize that haddie is not in control of the situation on the grounds, we can start to move towards an end of this Congress.
Scott Horton 10:27
Yeah, you know, it seems kind of ridiculous. Um, I even know a reporter who’s really good on this stuff, who I argued with back and forth about this, who said, Yeah, but the Houthis were never elected to anything. So yeah, but neither was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Neither was Abdulla Sala who America back for 30 years there. And truly neither was hottie. I mean, you call that an election? Of course not. And we’re agreed about that. For some reason. You know, and and honestly, in, in all of my research about this, I don’t know of anything good to say about the Houthis. It’s not a matter of like sticking up for their side of the fight or anything like that. It’s just that, in fact, they seize the capital city five years ago, five and a half almost. And no one’s been able to take it from them since then. They took over all the government departments and are trying to administer it. They’re ruling over the super majority of the population of the country, as you said, and what it really is, is a test of the public relations capabilities of the Western governments, right that can we make people continue to call this government, the rebels and call the people who have been nowhere near actual power for five and a half years, the legitimate government of the country, even after it’s been clear, really This whole time that hottie will never be the president of Yemen again, there’s zero chance that he will be reinstalled in power there no matter what happens. And yet still, he’s legitimate because he’s recognized his government is recognized by Saudi and America especially.
Bas Spliet 12:19
So yeah, and we don’t have to look at alternative media to make that claim that like howdy will never become the real presence anymore. I think even before this cool like the center Center for Strategic Studies, I think they’re called which is more or less than infinity tank as far as I can tell. They’re not basically pro Western pro Sadia, nor are they pro Hootie? Totally. They have come they have constructed five scholars with an expert knowledge of the conflicts and Yemen in general and they all said like, this guy’s not really in power. They Even a successor if he if it would be the same posture will definitely not with the will not have the same will it will be the same, like there needs to be some real change before Yemenis will generally recognize another ruler, just basically they don’t want Saudi Western imperialism anymore.
Scott Horton 13:24
yeah. And you know, the Houthis might be from the north, but they’re humanity’s. It’s not like they’re foreign invaders. And as Nasir Irby put it to me on the show years ago, years ago now was how long this thing has been going on. That, you know, essentially, well, so they’re in charge of the government now, it’s no different than really then a Texan being elected to the White House and then replaced by a Californian or whatever, in our country, that, you know, we’re all Houthis. Now, as long as they’re in power, and they’re being bombed by a foreign In country so the the population doesn’t have to convert to Zaidi Shiism to feel like they are being represented by this faction that is in charge of their government now.
Bas Spliet 14:20
I think that is a very good point and in touch upon a very large issue that is prevalent in basically all conflicts in the Middle East, right. I don’t know the percentage but like the majority of the country is Sunni Yes indeed, the Shias it’s not the Shia that they empower like it happens to be now she’s in that is provides the answer to foreign meddling so it’s it’s it’s enhances the popularity of the hoodies because they have like even the Brookings Institute or something will recognize that the Houthis have like, defied like one of their main political points is fighting corruption and fighting foreign meddling, and this makes them popular Right. And if you look at other conflicts like, based upon like philosophy of the political philosophy of of Bernard Lewis assemble hunting town and the clash of civilizations, like neoconservatives, neoconservatives pundits, but also liberal commentators basically, they will always say that they will always try to extrapolate, like the sectarian foundations of conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, wherever else. But if you look at the conflict, like not totally, but like, for the most parts, she has attorneys and Jews and Israelis and Sunnis and Kurdish and they have, they definitely have their problems and there is our conflict and there is conflict. Nobody’s denying that. But like the culminating of that conflict into major wars never happen. never happens. Ever. Since foreign intervention, and I think this shows that that is not religion, but politics that underlies most of these conflicts, and an interesting comparison could be my country because I live in Belgium I guess not a lot of people in your audience know, details about Belgian politics Neither do I basically because I’m not interested in it’s too complex. But more or less half of people in Flanders, which is the upper part that speech speaks Dutch like me. And they want independence, for flowers for for the health of the country, the people that speak Dutch from the whole country, which is imports, Dutch import French speaking. And this has been an issue for so many years for decades and like gradually, but surely there is more and more independence for the North. But there is no armed conflict here and seeing the difference between Belgium and Yemen Is that foreign meddling, we are in Belgium, for instance, would have been in the in the position and the economic and, and and geopolitical position that Yemen is if it would be in a third world place, and there would be interests of powerful interests that want sports, flounders, and powerful interest that would sports vilonia and, and Belgium, it might erupt into a civil war. But if people are left to themselves, and think that is also true for Yemen, like if there wouldn’t be colonialism, if there won’t be post colonial there wouldn’t be imperialism. It would have been all of this is basically since the 1960s. There has been some sort of proxy wars, dividing the Yemeni people, there still will be different religious difference there certainly political difference, but it wouldn’t necessarily descend into the chaos that we see today. I think that is a large points that is true for the whole Middle East.
Scott Horton 18:00
Then you guys are gonna love No dev no ops no ID by Hussein badhak Johnny it’s a fun and interesting read all about how to run your high tech company. Like a good libertarian should forget all the junk. Read no dev no ops no it by Hussein Barack Johnny find it in the margin at Scott horton.org Hey y’all, here’s the thing, donate $100 to the Scott Horton show, and you can get a QR code commodity disc as my gift to you. It’s a one ounce silver disc with a QR code on the back you take a picture of with your phone, and it gives you the instant spot price. And lets you know what that silver that ounces silver is worth on the market and Federal Reserve Notes in real time. It’s the future of currency in the past to commodity discs.com or just go to Scott Horton. org slash donate. Hey guys, Scott Horton here for expand designs. dot com. Harley Abbott and his crew do an outstanding job designing, building and maintaining my sites. And they’ll do great work for you need a new website, go to expand designs comm slash Scott and say 500 bucks back to the southern Transitional Council here. You know, I never could find this again. But there was this footage of a guy on horseback with his ak 47 going Viva Hugo Chavez. I just thought it was funny because, you know, so much of the of the discussion of this war is about the fight between the Houthis and the Saudis. And the Saudis, I guess backing the Al Islam Muslim Brotherhood faction that they tend to hate everywhere else nowadays, while the UAE is focused on backing out Qaeda and the Islamic State, but they don’t like the Muslim Brotherhood, for whatever reason, okay, it is fine, but the Muslim Brotherhood no way and so on. And then they have their different proxies and militias and and conscripts and mercenaries and whoever on the ground there that they’re fighting against the Houthis with in the capital and in the north, but then in the south, you have this Southern Transitional Council, which I don’t know everything about them, but one of their animating principles is socialism. And I guess another is secession. They don’t want a deal with the capital city, whoever rules it, they would rather go ahead and split the country back into North and South Yemen. Is that right?
Bas Spliet 21:21
Yeah, and I also have to admit that I don’t know all the details, neither Academy because they’re just very limited information. But true. Like it should be noted that though, like the the movement has resurfaced and has become prominence since 2018. But in fact, it was founded in 2007 before the Civil War and harks back indeed to the desire of some people in the south to stablish, an independent country in the south, which is which should be independent from, from the north. And I guess also, what should be another ultimate irony is that, that when that that that’s independent country existed between 1967 and 1990, when Yemen was united again, it was a calm. It was basically a Marxist regime and it was supported by the Soviet Union and the people who should have been like our erstwhile enemies a couple of decades ago. I guess some of their descendants, I guess there’s no the perfect line. There are other ideologies and people change and, and they’re like it’s another generation, but it is like their sons and daughters, maybe I’m not sure because I don’t have all information. Meanwhile, Before 1967, there were there was a couple of years that there existed a pan Arab, Arab Nationalist government in the north. No, no, no, in the in the whole country actually for a couple of years, which was, which was backed by Gamal after the master, dictator of of Egypt. back then. And, again, the ultimate irony is that both the Saudis and Israel and I’m not I’m not taking this from alternative media, it is acknowledged by the Brookings Institute again, they support it’s the the fathers and grandfathers of the hoodie, the royalists of the of the design effect as a defeat. Isn’t that ironic?
Scott Horton 22:49
Yeah, shocking, but not surprising.
Bas Spliet 22:54
Yeah. Again, it’s it basically goes to show that we don’t like people. Again, this like this neoconservative ideologues will try to whitewash conflicts in the Middle East as going back to religious roots, but they just aren’t. It’s, it’s another issue.
Scott Horton 23:15
You know, I’m almost certain it was Michael Horton, no relation to me, the Yemen expert, who am actually I’m not sure about my footnote there. Anyway. I’m sure I could find it if I tried hard. The quote was about the Houthi slogan that you cite in here to have debt to America and all of this stuff, and how I think you have them explained, we don’t really mean that there’s just a complaint against foreign intervention, which is understandable enough, but the thing I had read had said that they came up with that slogan back during the Obama years when the US was backing or was really you know, waging this CIA drone more there and backing the solid government. And then solid was using the money and weapons America was giving them as bribe to let us fight out Qaeda in order to attack the Houthis. And they made up a slogan then, just to embarrass Sala because everybody knew that he was working so closely with the Americans. So they were, you know, essentially carving out this position of being very nationalist as opposed to their leader at the time. That was really just politics. But meanwhile, the Houthis have certainly never attacked or threatened the United States in any way whatsoever. It goes without saying when we talk about this, yes, America is complicit in this genocide in Yemen for the last five years here, but Oh, yeah, by the way, they never did anything to us. Or the only ones who ever did were al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and we’re fighting on their side in this one, so that doesn’t count.
Bas Spliet 25:41
Yeah, that’s it’s true. Um, And it should be noted that like, this war is emboldened in Qaeda and an ISIS, which are the ones we’re supposed to fight, right? Yep. Yeah. Yeah. You have also like side of this and I guess numerous times, but it’s true. You can go back to 2015. January 2015. To monitor like, they pressed like it’s a it’s a it’s an publication pretty mainstream that is that is focused on on the Middle East and hence the Oh in a monitor. And they they sites State Department. No, it’s a Defense Department official. I think name’s Michael Vickers saying that right, admitting that they have an ongoing intelligence relationship with the Houthis to find out Okay, then. And even more interesting if you read the whole article. He expressed about who his hoodies are is like back then nobody really knew him. Right? And he’s is he points to a speech by saying, I’m the mother cootie is the leader then I think, to point out that the hoodies are fighting corruption and fighting foreign meddling, I don’t remember the exact quote. So basically saying like, these are it is understandable that they have some support. This is January 2015. And then the Saudi Saudi led coalition was suddenly found, and we we start to dance to the tunes of the of the Saudis, and we start to backtrack on that position, unfortunately, and as a result, we, the West has supported through its arms sales and and limited support as has basically legitimize genocide, the war and the people.
Scott Horton 26:58
Yeah, I mean, this is the thing I mentioned this in every Yemen interview, and I can’t get over it and nobody should, that there it is. And I’ll monitor, as you say, the Barbara Slaven article, where she citing General Michael Vickers, the Deputy Secretary of Defense for intelligence at the time. And then there’s the piece in The Wall Street Journal, both of them from January of 2015, saying that central command is working closely with the Houthis passing them intelligence to us against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It’s just two months later, in March of 2015, that Barack Obama stabs them in the back and takes al Qaeda side against them.
Bas Spliet 27:35
Yeah, like and people might scorn at it. They’re like, Whoa, are we in bed with al Qaeda, but I don’t know. Have you? If you have seen like a recent article on benchpress news couple of days ago by another Yemeni journalist based in a center I think names, AbdulKarim or something. And he went with the Houthi fighters to region in the desert that was taken over by booties in the last couple of days. And they found they found, okay, the flags and ISIS documents and all sorts of stuff that implicates that there was deep involvement of al Qaeda. But if you go go look at a map, these are like there were like very small villages. But but they sites he cites the region in which is this if you go look at the map, these are hundreds of miles. I don’t know the exact distance hundreds of miles away from supposedly the al Qaeda and ISIS pockets. These are supposed to be under the control of the heavy government. So I guess there is indeed like mounting evidence that there is a very significant overlap between that whole Saudi let’s UAE backed coalition and what’s are supposed to be our enemies?
Scott Horton 28:57
Yeah. Well, it’s really just incredible. I mean, When you look at the danger that was coming out of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before, when, you know they had done the Charlie Hebdo attack and tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 there was the failed printer cartridge bomb plot to vote to blow up a plane I’m not sure over the US or over Europe, there and of course, you know, pretty sure it’s honey Honda one of the September 11 hijackers from the San Diego sell the flight 77 hijackers. His father in law ran the switchboard house there where they help to coordinate the September 11 attack. And so these are real SL Qaeda guys who have a history of attacking and attempting to attack the United States. And America’s intervention on their side here and our allies intervention on their side here has increased their power by whatever hundreds or thousands of percentage points. And when this part of the war winds down, we’re going to be left with that You know, the all new and improved al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with years of Battlefield experience, and all the weapons they could steal from the various military bases, they’ve sacked, and God knows what this whole time that they’ve, you know, been able to improve their capabilities with America’s help.
Bas Spliet 30:19
We don’t have to as, as the shows, we don’t have to support the war on terror. Well, not to the segment that is abroad, like in the wars in the Middle East to to see that. Because it is exactly this war on terror, supposedly, that’s morphs into some sort of war off there. We’re in like instability that the West is complicit in creating makes them makes aka emboldens a guy that and this is true in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Libya, and all sorts of other places. I guess the larger point is just like, I guess The philosophy that we share is just non interventionism if we do not engage militarily or supports other governments in aggressive foreign policies and wars in the Middle East, then as I don’t, it’s difficult to pronounce his name. It’s the guy who is now at the Quincy Institute did a party or something as roads recently in, in foreign policy, they’re in the middle of the Middle East is safer is the if the United States just stays away, and also the threat of of terrorism will decrease.
Scott Horton 31:38
Yeah, well, no doubt about it. And we sure to keep switching sides back and forth there, depending on the battlefield. Certainly the American people thought that the writ was if they’re going to support the war on terrorism at all, it would be the war against bin Laden I groups, not the war against secular allies of Iran. Like for the war in Syria, for example, or these religious friends of Iran, probably not even really allies of Iran, like we have here in Yemen, and in both cases, directly on the side of the Ballade Knights against them. It’s not like just supporting Saddam Hussein’s secular tyranny against Iran. And there she had friends, but it’s supporting bin Laden Knights against them, which is treason, which is, you know, Iran might be our government’s adversary in the region, but they’ve been loud Knights are the actual enemies of American civilians, whose blood they’ve shed, you know, by the thousands. So it’s just an absolutely unforgivable policy. The only reason they get away with it is because they don’t ever have to explain it because nobody’s ever asking. And so it all just kind of flies under the radar. If they talk about at all, it’s the Saudi led code. Listen, what does that have to do with us at all anyway? But so let me ask you this to wrap up then If I had my way and somehow I could make the Saudis come to terms with the Houthi regime and just back off and the UAE in the US too, and go ahead and withdraw their forces and stop the bombing and come to some kind of peace. Do you think that? I mean, obviously, the Houthi regime in in the capital is going to last? But do you think that they would be able to form some kind of coalition government with the southern Transitional Council down there in Aden? I mean, obviously Hadi is virtually him and his faction are going to be almost non issue without the foreigners there to back them. But I wonder if you think that this will be the end of Yemen and it’s going to split back apart like it was in the 90s
Bas Spliet 34:54
going to go ahead and admit that I’m not sure about that, because I’m not that much of an expert. But we don’t have a glass bowl and we we don’t have to dislike, it could splits, there could be a settlement in which there is a power sharing agreement or it could split. But basically, to put it very frank, who who cares, like let them see for themselves, sell themselves and see how it’s going to evolve, like just how it should be done. It’s not through violence. And I think if the foreign intervention goes away, it would be preposterous to say that all the violence will go away, but they will definitely diminish. And we can let the Yemenis for see for themselves. And I think, like I’m just as like, I guess I’ll throw this into the real real quick, like when I came back from Syria, and I had my criticism of The moderate rebels and all of that there were some people including Syrian refugees, that’s, that’s that’s criticize me for saying like, Yeah, but you you, you are not the one that should say how who Syrians should support and who not. I think that was a very valid criticism. And it is true we it is not up to us to see how the situation who should be in control of Yemen, and we just should go Go ahead. And let’s Yemenis see for themselves only. The only thing that is important is that it should be recognized and people in the restroom, realize that our supports to the sorry, that coalition is the reason that there is war, as long as we show that there’s international opposition, which has been happening the last two years saw this and the moralities are going to start to retreat. The more we do that to stopping arm sales, recognizing starting diplomatic relations. keeps the government’s just showing disgust like the bills that have been passed in Americans, Congress and Senate. The more the faster basically this, this war will be over. So even the New York Times has acknowledged.
Scott Horton 36:19
Yep. And just goes to show too, that Donald Trump just like Barack Obama before he could turn this thing off with just a spoken word. He doesn’t even need to lift a pin. Just say out loud to the Chief of Staff. Let the defense secretary know to let the Saudis know that we’re done. That’s all good.
Bas Spliet 36:39
A study vetoed the bill passed, I think by both Congress and Senate, I think last year. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s not an anti imperialist present as someone having pretty as Yemen Iran shows.
Scott Horton 36:57
Yep. All right. Well, listen, I really appreciate this article. Cool, I hope everyone will go and read this thing. It’s really great. It’s an it’s a good one to pass around and show to people who aren’t familiar with this war. It’s got a great history of how we got to where we are now and the rest of it. It’s an anti war calm right now, after another coup in Aden. Which government in Yemen is legitimate by boss split. Thank you very much for your time, sir. Appreciate it. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org