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30 March 2015


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Swami Bhut Jolokia

It's a distraction that serves many purposes:
- Arab 'unity'
- Being seen sticking it to those evil Shia
- Appealing to patriotism to quell internal dissent
- Sabotaging the Iran deal by painting Iran as an aggressor
- try out all the shiny weaponry they've been accumulating over the years (which we get to replace!)

All for the cost of many Yemeni lives, and perhaps a few SA soldiers.

Who, me? Cynical?

Babak Makkinejad

It is worse than what you describe:

This is wanton aggression against a supposedly sovereign state by 10 other states; against the Charter of UN.

Truly, UN and the world that followed World War II are finished and are now in the dust bin of history.

May be those who destroyed that world are enjoying this spectacle; soon to be replicated everywhere else.

William R. Cumming

Did not S.A. lose their fight in Yemen in last decade and so did Egypt over a decade ago, maybe two? And the U.K. and US?


The war in Yemen is not sectarian. There is huge temptation to view the Zaydi tribes as monolithic and to view the Houthi movement as likewise. The traditional Zaydi areas are now pocketed with tribes that converted to Sunnah.

There will be no Saudi ground invasion of the mountainous areas. They do not need to do this. Instead they will rely on the many Zaydi tribes who have been excluded by the Houthis from power or from patronage. These tribes are many. They are - like all Northern tribes - well armed and excellent fighters. The only missing ingredient is money.

With Ali Abdallah Saleh's cousin, Ali Muhsin, planning and plotting in Riyadh since his escape from Sanaa in September, the Saudis have a man from a Zaydi tribe (Sanhan) who has converted to Sunnism and has links with all the Sunni tribes and particularly with the Hashid tribes in Saada and Amran to the north of Sanaa. He knows who to arm, pay and support.

These tribes, with Saudi backing, will IMHO eventually overwhelm the Houthis and Ali Abdallah Saleh.

At core, the Iranian meddling has effected a situation for Saudi Arabia not unlike that of the American meddling in Ukraine. Iran has interfered with the proximate interests of Saudi and this unacceptable to the Saudis for many reasons.

The problem is compounded by a new King eager to bare his fangs in an alliance with a confident Sisi in Egypt who is likewise only too happy to please his masters in Riyadh and to demonstrate to Egyptians how much of a real military man he is. Alone against Yemen I would rate their chances for success close to zero; with Ali Muhsin and other powerful figures I rate their chances of success in defeating the Houthi/Saleh coalition as extremely high. Putting Yemen back together is, however, utterly beyond them.



"These tribes, with Saudi backing, will IMHO eventually overwhelm the Houthis and Ali Abdallah Saleh." So, you have a dog in this fight? pl



No, I do not have a dog in the fight. Ali Muhsin is no better than his cousin Saleh. The Ahmars no better than the Huthis. My comment is a summary of what will possibly happen given the current circumstances.

My examination is less about international politics and more about internal tribal dynamics and how those may be manipulated by external actors.

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;

The kleptocrats running (ruining) Turkey are backing the wahhabi attacks on Yemen. Not all, within Turkey or in the ME, agree with the wisdom of such a move:


There is a very well known lament in Turkey about our many soldierswho never returned from Yemen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XpaErjkT50.

As opposed to Martin J, I am willing to bet that S.A will have its ass handed to it in this campaign. Say two years.

Ishmael Zechariah



The Ottomans lost many, many men in the Yemen. I agree with you. pl


Martin J

That's fair enough. We will see. IMO the Saudis will need many Egyptian and Pakistani soldiers to accomplish what you foresee. Fuller seems to agree. This is funny because I have rarely agreed with him and that goes all the way back to the search for the Iranian moderates but in this case I think he is correct. This is the kind of difference of opinion that I seek for SST and so I welcome it however much we may disagree. in a way this war in SW Arabia is a good test of my general view of the peoples of the ME as essentially unchanged by the few decades of "modernity." pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

It's still doubtful whether Pakistan will send any troops to SA to help out in this campaign. Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif owes them a personal debt of gratitude since they gave him asylum after he was deposed by Gen Musharraf (the Saudis seem to run a regular program of asylum for deposed Muslim leaders; every dictator knows where he can find refuge if he is overthrown). So far, however, Sharif has only made strong statements pledging support for upholding "the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the kingdom.

The opposition parties are opposed to Pakistan getting involved beyond friendly words. The general opinion in the media and the public supports this view. Even in Nawaz Sharif's party, many appear to be opposed. The general consensus seems to be for Pakistan to push for some mediated settlement. The military has no desire to get involved; they already have their hands full.

The Saudis, it seems, initially asked for a corps! Pakistan has sent a high-level delegation to Riyadh for discussions. I think they will send some token force to back up Saudi troops, without getting involved in the attacks on Yemen.

Charles 1

I have seen it argued somewhere today that Yemen is about the 306 degree 24/7 anti-Iranian campaign of attrition and multi-front embroilment lest the latest weaponry provided to Hezbullah by Iran, specifically guided warheads, defeats Iron Dome in a scary enough manner to result in a much wider scale of warfare in Lebanon than seen in 2006.


Nasrallah was very eloquent in last Friday's sermon about Yemen, Iranian influence, and above all the perfidy of the house of Saud in their dealings in the region. Imo, he presents an incisive, and not at all flattering, narrative of events that IMO is much closer to the truth than what we are are exposed to in the West. Comments?


The Beaver

Surprisingly , WaPo and NYT have not made any mention on line or paper ( as far as I know):


Good timing ? :-(

Abu Sinan

It is debatable if the Saudis can actually beat the Houthis. It is interesting to note that support of the Houthis has actually gone up since the attacks started. That is just anecdotal on my part, but it mirrors what often happens when a country is attack by outside forces.

I dont think the Saudis will win, but even if they do, I dont find that it will have much in the way of an impact on creating a stable Yemen. If the issues are not addressed which led to the rise of the Houthis and the Zaidi revival, another group or groups will take their place. If the Houthis do loose it will be a major setback in the struggle against AQAP and now Daesh.

The biggest issue in Yemen, I believe, has more to do with Saudi and their support for Salafist and takfiriyeen groups. Of course the rise of these groups and their extreme sectarian ideology plays a part in the rise of the Houthis and the Zaidi revivalist movement itself. Destroying the Houthis will not change anything.


US citizens have not been offered or helped to evacuate Yemen. State exited 11 Feb. Navy off coast apparently not in the business of rescuing US citizens. Got to wonder who is minding the store.


As I recall Fuller was a very good Middle East NIO. In approaching NIE's, he thought outside the box and made others (who were not always willing) do so.

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