Two weeks ago we wrote that war on Yemen will soon end. The Saudis lost their ally, they lost the war and would have to sue for peace. They are now doing so. But their fighting in Yemen will continue until that country finds a new balance.
Today the United Arab Emirates airforce bombed the Yemeni proxy forces of its ‘ally’ Saudi Arabia:
Yemen’s internationally recognized government accused the Emirati air force of attacking its troops Thursday as they were heading to the key southern port city of Aden to fight separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. The airstrikes killed at least 30 government forces, a Yemeni commander said.
Col. Mohamed al-Oban, a commander of the government’s special forces in Abyan province, said the troops were on the road, headed from Abyan toward Aden on Thursday, when the strikes took place, killing at least 30.
At least six raids were carried out by Emirati warplanes around the temporary capital, according to government military sources who asked to remain anonymous.
Southern separatist forces under the Southern Transitional Council and supported by the UAE hold Aden. Between 1967 and 1990 south Yemen, then named the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, was separated from the mountainous north. After uniting with north Yemen the south became neglected even though its eastern desert holds most of the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
Since 2015 the coalition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with US and British help, waged war against the Houthi in northern Yemen. The coalition is now falling apart. Both countries claimed to fight against the Houthi, which control the capital Sanaa, in support of the internationally recognized ‘legitimate’ government under ‘President’ Hadi. But both countries had from the very beginning more egoistic war aims.
The Wahhabi Saudis want a Yemeni government that is not controlled by the Zaydi-Shia Houthi with whom they fought dozens of wars over two provinces that Saudi Arabia once annexed. They also want to control Yemen’s oil and a pipeline from the Saudi oil region to a harbor in Yemen. It would help Saudi oil exports to avoid the Iran controlled Strait of Hormuz.
The UAE is big into the port business. It wants to control the strategic port of Aden and other Yemeni harbors on the southern coast. As it has no direct border with Yemen it largely does not care who controls the rest of Yemen.
The UAE leader Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ) is not an absolute king. He is the son of the Emir of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that form the UAE. His aggressive foreign policy, with military engagement in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya, has come under criticism of the rulers of the other emirates. Wars are expensive and bad for regular business. MbZ’s alliance with the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) was seen as dangerous. While the Saudis would like the US to wage war on Iran, the UAE, and especially Dubai, would become a casualty of such a war.
In June the emirs decided to change cause. The UAE retreated from active war in Yemen and started to make nice with Iran. It hoped that the southern separatists it had trained would keep Aden under control and continue to do the UAE’s bidding. The Saudis and the ‘legitimate government’ under Hadi they control do not want to condone that.
The Saudis are extremely angry that the UAE changed course:
But this month, at his Mecca palace, Saudi King Salman took the unusual step of expressing ‘extreme irritation’ with the UAE, his closest Arab partner, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The comment appears to be evidence of a fissure in the alliance, which is led in practice by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), and the UAE de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MbZ).
The king’s annoyance was voiced in a conversation on Aug. 11 with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, head of Yemen’s Saudi-backed government, according to two Yemeni sources and one other briefed on the meeting.
Hadi’s forces in Aden had just been routed by troops supported by the UAE, as nominal allies in the country’s south turned on each other in a power struggle.
The Saudis must end the war against the Houthi that was launched at the behest of its clown prince. The war cost the Saudis an enormous amount of money even as they are still losing it. Only yesterday 25 of their forces were killed in a Houthi ambush. With the help of Iran the Houthi acquired long range missiles and drones and they now use them in volleys that reach deep into the Saudi’s land:
Beginning on Aug. 24, the Houthis said its forces conducted two drone strikes on the King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushayt and the Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia. A day later, another round of drone strikes were reported on both targets.
On the same day, ten Badr-1 ballistic missiles were reportedly fired into Saudi’s Jizan city. However, Saudi officials reported that the country’s air defense systems shot down six ballistic missiles. The officials did not confirm if more missiles were included in the barrage.
On Aug. 26, another ballistic missile, the newly-announced Nakal missile, was reportedly fired at Saudi troops near Najran. Later in the day, another round of drones were reportedly intercepted near the King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushayt.
As drones were hitting the King Khaled airbase, a separate attack was purportedly occurring near Riyadh with the new Samad-3 suicide drones. If confirmed, this marks the second time Houthi drones have hit the Saudi capital. The first was a reported strike on an Aramco facility near the capital last month.
On Aug. 27, the Houthis showcased another newly-announced ballistic missile, the Qasem-1, by allegedly hitting Saudi troops positioned near the Yemeni border in Najran. Another drone was intercepted and destroyed by Saudi forces over Khamis Mushayt as well.
And yesterday a new cruise missile, the Quds-1, was launched towards the Abha airport. Though, Saudi officials stated that the missile was intercepted and destroyed.
The Saudi king must have recognized that he has no longer any chance to ever win the war. It seems that he asked the Trump administration to work out an agreement with the Houthi:
The Trump administration is preparing to initiate negotiations with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in an effort to bring the four-year civil war in Yemen to an end, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The effort is reportedly aimed at convincing Saudi Arabia to take part in secret talks with the rebels in Oman to help broker a cease-fire in the conflict, which has emerged as a front line in the regional proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.
The brother of the clown prince came to Washington to prepare for the talks:
Prince Khalid met with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday and discussed ‘US support for a negotiated resolution between the Republic of Yemen government’ and a breakaway group known as the Southern Transitional Council, according to a statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
The Hadi government is irrelevant. The Southern Transitional Council will demand independence from the north. The Houthi will demand to control the north and reparations for the war the Saudis waged against them. North Yemen’s infrastructure is largely destroyed. It will cost several dozens of billions to rebuild what the five year long Saudi air war destroyed. As the Houthi can continue to harass the Saudis at will, even in their capital, their is no way out for the Saudis but to pay whatever the Houthi demand.
It was the clown prince Mohammad bin Salman who launched the war in Yemen soon after he came to power. It was supposed to defeat the Houthi within a few weeks. Five years later and after at least a $100 billions was spent on it, the Saudis lost the war.
Will the King hold his son responsible for the large loss of money and face that he caused?
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.