Saudi Arabia’s Indecisive Storm

Saudi Arabia’s Indecisive StormSaudi Arabia’s Indecisive Storm

The operation “Decisive Storm” launched by the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi forces in Yemen has become an albatross around the kingdom’s neck. What could have been a short-term military operation is dragging on and there appears no immediate victory or solution to this grave regional problem, which poses a serious threat to the stability of Saudi Arabia and the region.

Even after two months of intense bombing, there are no clear winners in the war in which over 100 warplanes and more than 150,000 military personnel have participated.

Saudi Arabia has failed militarily to dislodge the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthis are still better positioned in places like Taiz, Marib, Aden and Dali. The war is now assuming dangerous proportions, Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed wrote for World Bulletin.

Since the launch of the operation, several cities and marketplaces have come under attacks in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Cities like Qatif and Dammam have been targeted and even policemen have been attacked in Riyadh. Houthis are regularly clashing with troops loyal to (Yemen’s fugitive president) Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

When the Yemen operation was launched, it was aimed to be a short military campaign to restore Hadi to power and repel Houthis. Now the “Operation Decisive Storm” has been changed into the “Restoring Hope” mission with an aim to find some political solution to the problems.

The first operation continued unabated with the coalition jets bombing towns and cities in Yemen regularly without achieving any desired result.

According to UN estimates, more than 2,200 people have died as a result of Saudi Arabian airstrikes, half of whom are civilians, while the number of the wounded is close to 10,000. UNICEF stated in late May that 135 children had been killed and 260 wounded since the start of the conflict in March.

Even the logistical and intelligence support by the Pentagon, which is increasing its military control of Arab countries using the current regional turmoil, has not dismantled Houthi infrastructure.

The coalition forces claim that their operations against Houthis will continue till a UN resolution calling for a rebel pullback takes effect. But these strikes are not effective and only symbolic.

The (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council forces in the beginning of the offensive rejected political dialogue, but are now keen to end the spiraling conflict through negotiations.

It appeared that new Saudi leadership, especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, who is considered a military genius by Saudi media, was in a tearing hurry to teach a lesson to Houthis.

The Saudis and other Persian Gulf nations tried to get forces from Pakistan and other countries for a ground attack against Houthis, but Islamabad appeared reluctant although some of its senior military and airforce officers are assisting the coalition forces against the group.

Any protracted war will be a danger to Saudi stability as it tests and challenges their military prowess. Even as the Saudis are getting tactical support from the US, which is also their main weapons supplier, the war is leading nowhere and can cause internal disturbances in the kingdom.