Warmongering Saudi crown prince seeks a way out of Yemen aggression, leaked emails viewed by Middle East Eye shows.
The London-based news portal in a Monday report revealed that Mohammad bin Salman has confessed to two former US officials he “wants out” of the 29-month bloody war he started on Yemen, and added that he was “okay” with Washington engaging with Riyadh main regional rival Iran.
The 31-year-old Saudi prince revealed his intentions to Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israeli regime, and Stephen Hadley, a former US national security adviser, at least one month before the US-backed regime accused Qatar of undermining its campaign in Yemen and colluding with Iran.
Saudi Arabia launched a brutal aggression on Yemen in March 2015 to oust the popular Ansarullah movement and restore to power fugitive Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi who resigned as president and fled to Riyadh.
The Saudi war on Yemen, one of the world’s most impoverished countries, has killed nearly 13,000 people and left tens of thousands wounded while displacing millions.
Last month, the UN announced that more than 17 million people in Yemen were currently food-insecure, of whom 6.8 million were severely food-insecure and in need of immediate aid.
Saudis’ indiscriminate bombing has also taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s facilities, infrastructure, and healthcare system, preparing ground for cholera epidemic and death of over 2,000 due to the disease.
Details of the meeting were contained in an email thread between Indyk and Yousef Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador in Washington, which was obtained by the GlobalLeaks campaign group.
Indyk and Otaiba were discussing the Saudi prince’s “pragmatism” and where it deviated from the public positions the kingdom adopts.
At 10.17am on 20 April, Otaiba wrote: “Sometimes foreign ministers have to raise the bar a little higher. And I think MBS is far more pragmatic than what we hear is (sic) Saudi public positions.”
By return, some 27 minutes later Indyk wrote: “I agree on that. He was quite clear with Steve Hadley and me that he wants out of Yemen and that he is OK with the US engaging Iran as long as it is co-ordinated in advance and the objectives are clear.”
Otaiba replied: “I do not think we will ever see a more pragmatic leader in that country. Which is why engaging with them is so important and will yield the most results we can ever get out of Saudi.”
“We’re doing our best to do that,” said Indyk, who is perhaps better known for a career championing pro-Israel policies rather than Saudi ones.
Emails spanning several years show Otaiba’s apparent high regard for Indyk, who turned to him for a November 2013 meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, in order to “give him some granularity on the cousins” – a reference to Israel.
Mansur Hadi Looser
Saudi regime’s doubts about raging on aggression on neighboring Yemen further undermines the position of resigned Yemeni president, Mansour Hadi, in whose name Riyadh launched its aggression.
Otaiba’s emails also reveal that as early as April 2015, the Emirates treated the former Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh only as a “subversive element” in the Yemen conflict, as opposed to the Ansarullah Movement (Houthis), whom they publicly branded a “strategic threat”.
This emerged in a private email exchange with the CIA’s former deputy director, Michael Morell, in which they discussed a recent share of intelligence between the UAE’s foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, and Barbara Leaf, the US ambassador to the UAE.
In a meeting with Leaf, Gargash said their aim was to peel Saleh away from the supporting Ansarullah, and encourage divisions within his party, the General People’s Congress (GPC).
According to a summary of the meeting minutes, Gargash “stressed the importance of differentiating between the Houthis as a strategic threat, and Saleh which is basically a ‘subversive element’ that does not impose a strategic threat”.
Gargash highlighted “the importance on working on holding Saleh away from the Houthis as a first step, and eventually supporting divisions in the GPC party and Saleh”.
Leaf, said Saleh, had been “desperately trying to talk to the US and start negotiating”, but the US had no trust in him and thought he was unreliable.
“She further enquired about Saleh’s money in the UAE, noting that in her last meeting with [security official] Ali bin Hamad al-Shamsi she was told that his son was still… in the UAE and not allowed to leave for Yemen.”
UAE daydreaming leading West Asia
United Arab Emirates ambassador’s private correspondence indicates Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to lead the West Asian region and the monarchy’s differences with allied Persian Gulf Arab states.
In an email exchange with Elliott Abrams, a former US official renowned for neoconservative views on Israel, the UAE ambassador Otaiba does not demur when Abrams writes: “Jeez, the new hegemon! Emirati imperialism! Well if the US won’t do it, someone has to hold things together for a while.”
Otaiba replies: “Yes, how dare we! In all honesty there was not much of a choice. We stepped up only after your country chose to step down.”
Abrams complains it was “too bad you aren’t getting the help you deserve” from the US, Qatar and Saudi. Otaiba adds: “Or Oman or Turkey.”
Otaiba, however, is brutally clear about who he thinks is in the driving seat, when it comes to the Emirati-Saudi relationship.
To Abrams, Otaiba replies: “I think in the long term we might be a good influence on KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], at least with certain people there.”
Continuing the exchange Otaiba confides: “Our relationship with them is based on strategic depth, shared interests, and most importantly the hope that we could influence them. Not the other way around.”