Yemenis need to stop believing that the bloody conflict that has engulfed the country since 2014 is driven by the West, claims a top Egyptian judge.
Most recently, almost 1,000 civilians and combatants were killed and thousands displaced in the three-week-long battle that pitched the Saudi-coalition against Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels and fighting forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognised president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
“When I visited Yemen I was told that the conflict was driven by Western powers. I told officials they were wrong,” Judge Adel Maged, vice president of the Egyptian Court of Cassation (Criminal Division), said in a speech at the LSE Africa Summit on Friday 17 April.
“If you want resolution between Yemenis, they need to understand that it is society that is causing the conflict, and religious ideologies.”
Conflict driven by religion
The former legal advisor to the Ministry of Justice of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) added: “In our experience, all the conflicts taking place in the Mena region and Africa have only been driven by religious ideologies.”
In his speech, Maged explained the Yemeni society has to understand the roots of the conflict to be able to successfully foster transitional justice. Failing that, he claims, there may not be an end to the bloody violence.
US secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran over its alleged support for the Houthi rebels, who are being driven back by a Saudi-led coalition which seeks to restore President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the country in March 2015.
His comments come hours after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate halt to the fighting in the country.
Fighting increased in the city of Aden between the Houthis and militias loyal to Hadi. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani also appealed to countries in the region to stop the air raids and solve the crisis.
This week, Saudi Arabia also claimed it will make sure Houthis fail. Its ambassador to the United States defended military action in Yemen, saying the country had no choice but to defend its neighbour against what it sees as aggression from allies of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
On 14 April the UN security council (UNSC) also imposed an arms embargo and travel ban targeting the Houthi rebel militia, former President Saleh and his son, who have teamed up with the Iran-allied Shi’ite group.
“Jihad is being used by Muslims against Muslims,” Maged added, speaking more broadly of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.