The regime of Sudanese President (General Omar al-Bashir/Islamic Front) was an outcast on more than one level. His human rights record at home is disgraceful, condemned by Arab and international public opinion, and his relations with the official Arab regime are in crisis.
At the very least, his relationship with his big sister and neighbor (Egypt) was at its worst after he was accused of involvement in the attempted assassination of President Mubarak in Addis Ababa and of harboring his Islamist attackers, in June 1996, along with other major names on the American terrorist list, such as “Osama bin Laden.” . But he was not expelled from the Arab League, not recognized, or executed among some Arab countries.
However, when the administration of US President Bill Clinton launched its air attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the outskirts of Khartoum on August 20, 1998, the situation changed, and Al-Bashir’s Sudan became the subject of widespread public sympathy throughout the Arab world.
I remember at that time – and I was working in the Arab affairs section of Al-Ahram newspaper – the news of the bombing of the Sudanese capital occurred. At that time, generations of fellow journalists, regardless of their orientations, united in anger against this aggression. Some of them lived through the American fleet’s invasion of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in 1958, while others bombed the same city in 1983. Almost the majority lived through the American raids on the Libyan capital, “Tripoli,” and “Bani Ghazi” in 1986.
Archives document how Arabs were angry despite their differences
and on the whole; The anger throughout the Arab world had an impact on the Arab official system, and it could not be ignored or silent. This is an anger documented in a Reuters cable describing it as “close to boiling,” and as published by Al-Ahram on its front page on August 21, 1998.
From the Arab League, in less than 24 hours, the General Secretariat issued a statement denouncing the American bombing of Sudan, and considered it “an unjustified act, a blatant violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state that is a member of the League, and a violation of international covenants.”
Hours later, Egypt's Foreign Minister at the time, Amr Moussa, stated, “No country can be an alternative to the Security Council, and Cairo's position is clear that all measures against terrorism must be through international legitimacy, and under the umbrella of the United Nations.”
The archives also preserve Al-Ahram's editorial two days after this aggression. Under the title: “Collective confrontation of terrorism is the solution,” she criticized the United States wearing the police uniform and striking here and there. She warned that “American unilateralism in acting in this way could lead to some sectors of the public sympathizing with the terrorists themselves, and this is definitely not required.”
American bombing of an Arab capital again
There is no one who does not see the “sieve,” or even without it, who does not realize the sensitivity that transcends differences when an Arab capital is attacked, and by the sons of the colonizers: the British, the French, and their American successors. Anyone who does not take into account the consequences of this aggression cannot be seen as blind.
It is true that Yemen/Sanaa/the Houthi rule today is outside the official Arab system and its state league. It has also been the subject of accusations and campaigns for more than a decade that it is merely an “agent for Iran,” imitating the popular media term in the Western press (proxy), and that it is a party to the conflict between the two axes: Sunni and Shiite in the two worlds: the Arab and the Islamic. It is a conflict – in my opinion and others – that is artificial and harmful and in the interest of Zionism and the enemies of the peoples.
All of the above puts Sanaa, which was attacked by the United States and Britain, today in a weaker position than Khartoum was in during the American aggression nearly a quarter of a century ago.
It is true that Yemen / Sanaa / the Houthi rule is still emerging or barely surviving a brutal civil-regional war that has destroyed everything. He has not yet treated the wounds of this war internally and regionally. In addition, the issues of recovery from its effects are still open and undecided, despite the start of the process of truce and calm, as well as reconciliation with the major neighbor Saudi Arabia, along with the legitimacy of the government, and the continuation of the division between Sanaa and Aden.
An “outcast rogue” who became popular
However, despite all this, the Yemeni forces’ contribution to a war effort in the Red Sea for the sake of Gaza and the people of Palestine after October 7, 2023 gave Sana’a popularity among Arab public opinion, transcending sectarian and political ideological divisions.
Simply put, this contribution appreciated by most of the masses and elites – throughout the Arab world – has placed Sana'a – this “rogue outcast” not recognized by the official Arab system – at the heart of the map of the Arab-Zionist conflict, today.
This is despite the fact that Yemen – due to geopolitical considerations – was not among what was called the “confrontation” or “encircle” countries, and according to the facts of history, since 1948, it has not had a noticeable participation in the wars of the Arab armies with Israel.
And of course, his armed forces had never before had anything in the history of the armies of Arab countries far from the borders of Palestine, such as Iraq, or the addition of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco to it with the 1973 war. However, we cannot forget the contribution of South Yemen – Aden – in cooperation with the Egyptian Navy – in closing “ Bab al-Mandab” during this war, and the enemy's siege of its naval vessels and ports in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.
In short; What the Yemeni/Sanaa forces did after October 7 in the southern Red Sea and its response to the naval blockade of Israel and the launching of missiles at it, placed this country in an unprecedented manner in the heart of the conflict with Zionist colonialism and its allies. It also dissolved, to some extent, sectarian divisions that had grown and become more brutal over the decades in our region, especially since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Also in short: What these Yemeni forces did to contribute to the victory of Gaza and to this day, its results were quickly accepted by the Arab peoples, as the Zionist-American war of annihilation against the Palestinian people and the legendary steadfastness of their resistance increased the gap between them and their regimes in every country, and with the entire official Arab system. The comparison of positions, words and actions between this and that is strongly present now, and its effects will continue – I suspect – for generations to come.
Rather, we can say; This Yemeni military participation – and with it the popular outburst in the demonstrations in Sanaa, and other cities there along with Gaza and the Palestinian people – allowed people from the periphery to the Gulf to discover that those so-called “Houthis,” whom they knew were stereotyped as “extremist Shiites, agents of Tehran,” do not speak. Persian, and they do not wear black turbans.
Indeed, significant sectors of public opinion have come to see what they are doing – despite their weakness, poverty and misery – as an “Arab chivalry” that is lacking among other wealthy people with open budgets without oversight, huge capabilities, and the latest and most lethal weapons.
But they are definitely embarrassed
The American-British aggression against Yemen – with the participation of allies from outside and within the region, as President Biden immediately stated – places the Arab regime, its pillars and its leadership in Saudi Arabia in a more severe and dangerous embarrassment. Or as the Arabic expression says: “It made matters worse.” This is not for a single reason related to this popular and elitist mood in the Arab world, and its inherent sensitivity towards the Americans and British attacking an Arab capital.
This time, the targeted target is Sana'a, which is at the peak of its presence in the Arab-Zionist conflict, and with a major defining moment facing the Palestinian people and their cause, and with them all free Arabs and the world.
There is a list of additional reasons, including: The aggression against Sanaa and other Yemeni cities came directly after US Secretary of State Blinken's tour and reception in many Arab capitals. This raises questions, one of which is no less embarrassing than the other, which are:
- Did he inform them of his administration’s intentions to launch these strikes? Or did he hide from the leaders and officials in these capitals what would happen immediately after he left the region?
- What is the significance of his preoccupying them with reassurances of Washington’s determination to work to prevent the spread of the war (especially to Lebanon)? This, while his administration did not abandon declaring – frankly, arrogantly and criminally – its support for the continuation of the Zionist genocide in Gaza. Then here is Washington, thus expanding the war to the south of the Arabian Peninsula, with the risk of reactions that may repeat the oil tanker war by the end of the eighties of the last century.
Also, one of the reasons for the most severe and dangerous embarrassment for the official Arab regime, its components, and its leadership is that the American-British aggression – with Washington rushing to announce allies from inside and outside the region – may open the door to the return of the armed conflict inside Yemen. It blocks the stabilization of ceasefire lines, calm, and reconciliation efforts with the regional parties that have been involved in this conflict for nearly nine years.
This would impose more burdens on Yemen, the region, and the world, the migration, displacement, famine, and suffering of millions of Yemenis, from which they have not yet recovered.
On top of all of this and other reasons for embarrassment, the question arises: Why did the American administration choose the timing of attacking Sana’a and other Yemeni cities on the same day the International Court of Justice began looking into the Zionist-Israeli genocidal crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza? Is this one of the forms and arts of “coverage and pulling the media rug”? Isn't Washington aware that this timing – the coincidence – is adding fuel to the fire of comparison in Arab public opinion between the South African initiative and the situation of their allied and friendly countries and their group?
When Khartoum was bombed in 1998, the authoritarian Bashir-Islamic Front regime was in turn harboring groups and leaders affiliated with “terrorism.” And this is before he got rid of her, expelled her, or restricted her, so she left Sudan, or even handed her over to American intelligence and others in deals that were the “pragmatic” other side of his “Islamist” slogans and his trade in religion.
But the American aggressor has not yet provided evidence regarding Yemen/Sanaa today that would be equivalent to his justification – albeit with lies – for the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory. Not when he claimed at the time that he was working on producing chemical weapons and nerve gas, or that the Sudanese regime was involved in the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania before that, along with the “Taliban” regime in Afghanistan, where it launched air strikes on the same day. Only now does the American aggressor appear naked in the position of defending Zionism and protecting its terrorism. Rather, he acts as an agent on its behalf, fighting its battles.
History has its lessons and wisdom
But the fool is the one who does not consider history and the sequence of its events, so he repeats his foolishness that is harmful to others and to himself. About three years had passed since the attack on the Sudanese capital, and the United States, along with the world, was shaken by the earthquake of the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, and their devastating bloody toll among American citizens.
What is more astonishing than the repetition of foolishness, to the point of addiction, is that the American administration during the era of Bush Sr. had admitted the mistake of ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people and their cause and the consequences of the continuation of this historical injustice.
This is after she noticed and realized – along with the world – the extent of public support for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's remote missile strikes on Israel's cities and colonies, while he was in the position of an aggressor and occupier of a neighboring Arab country (Kuwait).
Thus, this administration hastened to hold the “Madrid Peace Conference” before the end of 1991, and a few months after the expulsion of Saddam’s forces from Kuwait. This is despite the fact that the invasion of Kuwait had caused a rift within the official system and a division in Arab public opinion, and in contrast to the conditions of the capitals: Khartoum in 1998 and Sanaa in 2024, and before that Tripoli in 1986, when it was bombed by the American aggression.
But it seems that there is no cure for these foolishness, and as it is said: “Only foolishness becomes weary of those who treat it.” It is as if they have not learned – after more than one lesson – that injustice, aggression, and attacking and striking capitals can result in the slaughter of the aggressor, even if he is in his own backyard.