West Has 'Lost' to Russia in the Middle East – Political Analyst

© REUTERS / Fawaz SalmanA view of of the southern port city of Aden, Yemen January 22, 2018
A view of of the southern port city of Aden, Yemen January 22, 2018 - Sputnik International
A US-backed UK-drafted resolution targeting Iran for its alleged support of Houthi Rebels in Yemen was vetoed by Russia at the United Nations Security Council. Subsequently, a Russian proposal calling for extended sanctions on Yemen was unanimously adopted by all fifteen members. Sputnik spoke to Middle East analyst Catherine Shakdam.

Sputnik: The US-backed UK-drafted UN resolution specifically called out Iran for allegedly violating an arms embargo in place on Yemen, saying that Tehran had provided weaponry to Houthi rebels in Yemen – in reality, how substantial is the evidence provided to support the claim?

Catherine Shakdam: They’re not substantial at all, and that’s the main problem. It’s very easy to throw allegations around without them being corroborated by empirical facts, and that’s the problem. Everything, so far, that the UK and US has done when it comes to Yemen is actually use Yemen as a proxy to attack Iran and try to draw Iran into some kind of political fight and military fight to try to justify its existence, forgetting that the aim of the exercise here is to try and bring peace to Yemen and to somehow find solutions to the crisis. We cannot ignore the fact that innocent people are dying because of the humanitarian blockade.

We cannot ignore the fact that human rights violations are happening on both sides on a daily basis and it cannot stand anymore. So this idea that its ok to use the UN as a leverage to score political points against any party for that matter, for me has become not only Ludacris but criminal at this stage because there are twenty six million people in situation where they are being held hostage by famine. They are being carpet bombed, and they have no recourse. So, it’s time to do what Russia has done, which is to bring reason back to the table and actually try to find common ground rather than hash out prejudices.

Sputnik: Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said that the UK’s draft was aimed at advancing a “geopolitical agenda” – what does he mean by that do you think?

Catherine Shakdam: I think it’s quite clear that Western capitals, in this particular case the UK and Washington have actually lost not just to Russia, but to Iran and China when it comes to their position in the Middle East. Whereas a lot of countries have not only grown into their own sovereignty, but they understand that when it comes to creating a formulating alliances with foreign powers, then they’d rather deal with the likes of Russia or China because the relationship that they have is on the basis of cooperation and collaboration as opposed to wrangling of power where you have the old colonial power trying to impose a new reality onto the Middle East countries.

I think that it has hurt London and Washington a great deal because they are incapable, so far, to step away from the old model or the old balance of power to try and understand that things have changed a great deal since 2011 and that they have missed the boat and an opportunity to actually formulate new alliances and cooperation as opposed to a standoff where countries are literally fighting to have their voices heard on the international stage. I don’t think that can stand any more. We live in a new world today where nations, regardless of their size, regardless of the traction that they have, have a right to their own say and have a right to their own political future, quite simply.

Sputnik: Following Russia’s veto of the UK-proposal, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Hayley said that the US and its allies should, to quote her exactly, “take action on their own.” Those are of course pretty foreboding words, what does she mean do you suppose?

Catherine Shakdam: We all know that Nikki Hayley is a mouthpiece for Washington and Washington is trying to promote war against Iran. Not just Iran but there are other parties where Washington is trying to press against. Number one, I don’t think it’s helpful, and number two, it goes against international law because whenever Washington does not get what it wants at the UN or cannot formulate some pseudo-legal stand against Iran or any other country its decided it wants to go up against this week, then it decides that it wants to do it alone, as if its suddenly become the police officer on in the international scene and that it can step above international law and dictate the tone. Again, we cannot have this kind of exceptionalism anymore. Not when the world is so small today that everything we do is creating ripples.

I think we have to understand that the law, the rule of law, is everything that actually allows us to not completely fall into chaos. That’s the only thing that we cannot cross, that we cannot violate. Washington insists in violating it time and time again. I have to say that if not for the likes of Russia, I think the Middle East would have led into world war three. We have avoided it so far because Russia has made a point of actually following the rule of law and forcing other countries to take the rule of law rather seriously.

The views and opinions expressed by Catherine Shakdam are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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