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Russia’s openness to the Houthis angers Saudi leadership, dispatched envoy to Moscow

Riyadh dispatches its ambassador to Yemen to Moscow after Putin’s envoy visited Muscat.

March 1, 2023

 

Not long after the visit of the envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Muscat and his interesting meeting with a delegation from the Houthi group, Saudi Arabia sent its ambassador to Yemen to Moscow, in a move that carries many signs.

 

Saudi Arabia’s dispatch of its ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Jaber, to Russia, and his meeting with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Personal Envoy of the Kremlin, Mikhail Bogdanov, raised questions about the reasons for this visit, and whether the matter has anything to do with Saudi concerns about recent Russian moves and Moscow’s openness to the Houthi group.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Yemen in 2015, Moscow has been committed to neutrality, and prefers to hide behind the international position, unlike its positions on most conflicts in the region, while the aim seemed to be to stay at the same distance from Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Al Jaber’s visit to Moscow raises questions

 

Over the past years, Moscow has not used its veto power against UN Security Council resolutions on the conflict in Yemen, most of which were decisions issued by Arab and Western parties.

Russia has expressed, on more than one occasion, a desire to mediate in dismantling the crisis and reaching a settlement, but in practice it did not have a significant presence or influence in the course of the conflict.

Observers believe that the kingdom’s dispatch of its ambassador to Yemen to Moscow, and not the foreign minister or his deputy, indicates a lot, amid speculation that there will be fear from Riyadh about a change in the Russian position, which has so far seemed balanced and comfortable for the kingdom.

The Russian Embassy in Yemen announced a meeting between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Jaber, who is on a working visit to Moscow.

“During the meeting, a comprehensive exchange of views took place on the military, political and humanitarian situation in Yemen,” the embassy said in a statement.

The statement added, “The need for further steps was indicated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the aim of establishing a broad Yemeni political dialogue on issues related to a comprehensive settlement in Yemen.”

He pointed out that “Al Jaber reviewed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure a sustainable ceasefire and implement economic development programs in Yemen.”

The Russian side expressed its support for the measures taken by the Kingdom’s leadership to achieve stability in Yemen, and to search for solutions acceptable to all parties to the crisis that has lasted for many years, according to the statement.

The statement did not address the details and duration of the Saudi ambassador’s visit, which comes shortly after a visit by President Putin’s envoy to Muscat, during which he met Omani officials and also a delegation from the Houthi group headed by the leader, Mohammed Abdul Salam.

Bogdanov’s reception of the Houthi delegation at his country’s embassy in Amman was greeted by the pro-Iranian group

Oman is engaged in mediation efforts between the Houthis and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and it is still unclear whether Oman is putting forward a special initiative or its moves are in favor of renewing a UN armistice that ended last October.

According to diplomatic sources, the talks held by the Russian official in Muscat focused on the situation in Yemen and the ongoing efforts to reach a truce.

And the Russian embassy in Muscat reported on its Twitter account that Bogdanov met with the representative of the Houthi group, Muhammad Abdul Salam, and discussed with him in detail the military, political and humanitarian situation in Yemen.

The embassy indicated that Bogdanov “stressed the need to intensify the efforts of all Yemeni political forces in order to ensure a sustainable and long-term ceasefire, as this would lead to creating an environment conducive to starting a constructive and comprehensive negotiation process under the auspices of the United Nations for a comprehensive settlement of the crisis in Yemen, and the promotion of peace.” and security in the region.

Observers believe that Russia is seeking influence cards to use in a game of tug-of-war with the West, especially with its fear that the United States will succeed in persuading the Gulf states to leave the circle of neutrality and join them.

Washington was quick to announce its welcome to the visit made by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to Kiev on Sunday, and his announcement of providing a package of aid to Ukraine worth four hundred million dollars.

Bin Farhan’s visit was the first by a Saudi and Arab official to Kiev since the outbreak of the war, amid Russian silence about it.

Bogdanov’s reception of the Houthi delegation at his country’s embassy in Amman was met with a remarkable celebration by the pro-Iranian group, while it seemed to want to suggest the presence of an international supporter.

The Russian movement in the Yemeni file coincided with the Houthi group’s announcement of raising readiness for an open escalation that would affect the Arab coalition, targeting the economic and oil interests of the two countries in particular, as well as placing all foreign military bases in various Yemeni territories and islands within its target bank.

And the Chief of Staff, Major General Muhammad Al-Ghamari, announced recently that the armed forces, in all their military formations, are fully prepared for any options required by the stage.

Al-Ghamari’s statements came in parallel with new warnings issued by the Houthi Supreme Political Council against ignoring the movement’s leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi’s messages, hinting at a return to the military option, and calling for mobilization and readiness for a decisive battle.

In its statement, the council said that the Houthi messages in his recent speech “are clear to all those keen on peace in Yemen and the region, and procrastination should not continue to understand them,” stressing its adherence to the primacy of the humanitarian file in any dialogues, and its rejection of the foreign military presence on Yemeni territory, including American and British.

And the Supreme Political Council warned that this presence would be dealt with as an occupation, stressing that it would “take all options to obtain complete freedom and complete independence.”

Source: alarab-co-uk

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