How Syria and Yemen are intertwined

How Syria and Yemen are intertwined
2 min read
29 Apr, 2015
Comment: The crises in Syria and Yemen are inversely linked, argues Sameh Rashed. When the situation improves in one it deteriorates in the other, says Sameh Rashed.
Russia is pushing for peace talks on Syria [AFP]

Observers of the crises in Yemen and Syria have noticed a distinct relationship between the two, especially over the past two years. Important developments in both happen simultaneously but in the opposite direction. When one calms, the other escalates.

When Yemen escalated into a military confrontation after national talks stalled, Syria was in a military and political stalemate. Moscow took advantage of the US abandoning the Syrian issue and oversaw political talks, while the situation in Yemen calmed down.

     Important developments in both crises happen simultaneously but in the opposite direction.

Despite the fact that the situation in Yemen has not calmed, the Saudi decision to change the name of its operation from "Decisive Storm" to "Restoring Hope" shows it does not want the situation to escalate.

Bombs continue to fall on Yemen, although on a more limited scale, while the chance of a political settlement appear remote. The situation is unlikely to change.

In contrast, the situation in Syria is changing, especially politically. Russia has began carrying out consultations for a meeting dubbed "Moscow 3", while the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has began intensive calls to prepare what he has called "Geneva 3".

Connecting the two crises seems logical for two reasons. First, becaues of the complexity of the Middle East, the region cannot handle rapid developments in more than one crisis at the same time.

Second, Syria and Yemen both directly affect the regional balance of power.This means major regional powers are involved in both crises - primarily Saudi Arabia and Iran with Turkey and Egypt playing secondary roles. Russia is also playing a prominent role in both countries, for the first time in the region in decades.

Both conflicts have been affected by sectarian differences.

Despite these factors in common, no one expects the Yemeni crisis to follow in the footsteps of its Syrian counterpart. However, the reciprocal relationship between the two crises suggests there is no end in sight for either.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.