Cost-Benefit in Saudi Invasion of Yemen

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mohammad Irani
Iran's Former Ambassador to Jordan and Middle East Analyst

A few points are worthy of attention with regard to the current situation in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s aerial aggression against the war-wracked country:

1. Without a doubt, Saudi Arabia’s attack on various parts of Yemen is, on the basis of international regulations, a blatant act of aggression and stands against a resolution, which says the crisis in Yemen should be settled through political means. This is the first reckless measure taken by the new Saudi monarch, King Salman, which shows his approach is totally different from his predecessor, King Abdullah. Of course, Saudi officials have created a coalition with the participation of some other Arab countries, especially those located on the rims of the Red Sea and the member states of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council [(P)GCC]. They have done this in order to lessen international pressures on Saudi Arabia and also provide grounds to justify their act of aggression. Of course, presence of other countries in the coalition is mostly a formality and the aerial attacks against targets inside Yemen are mostly carried out by Saudi Arabia. This, however, does not mean that Saudi Arabia is not acting in coordination with the United States. Concerns about possible risks to shipping through the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait and the Red Sea were good excuses for Saudi Arabia to launch its attack on Yemen with the green light of the United States.

2. Concurrence of Saudi Arabia’s air strikes against Yemen with the last round of nuclear talks between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 group of countries is quite thought provoking in view of the fact that most estimates of the nuclear negotiations were positive. Saudi Arabia is the flag bearer among Arab states that are concerned about closer ties between the Islamic Republic and the West. Therefore, they feared that the final victory of Yemen’s Ansarullah fighters and their full domination over Yemen will have a positive impact on Iran's standing in the nuclear talks with the Western sides. Saudi Arabia had already indicated its discontent with any kind of understanding with Iran, which might led to the recognition of the country’s peaceful nuclear achievements.

3. Ansarullah and the revolutionary current in Yemen were seeking to make the opposite side get back to the negotiating table in order to obtain more political concessions inside the country. Therefore, their abstinence from entering the southern port city of Aden and sufficing to laying siege to it would have enabled them to pursue their goal while having the upper hand. At the same time, the country would not have witnessed such a large scale of destruction and the massacre of the defenseless people of Yemen. At any rate, this has already happened. Ansarullah and Houthi revolutionaries should prevent this situation from having negative consequences in the form of increasing rifts among various groups of people, tribes and parties in the country. Fortunately, after the escalation of aerial strikes against Yemen and subsequent rise in human losses in the impoverished Arab state, regional and international conditions have been gradually changing against Saudi Arabia especially as a result of efforts made by international media and legal bodies.

4. Will Saudi Arabia be able to bring the situation in Yemen under its control in this way? Will the situation revert to what it was before the war? Now that Ansarullah and the Yemeni army have been able to gain control of almost the entire country, will the country’s fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, be able to get back to the country and take control of its affairs? How efficient will be Saudi investment in a burned card like Mansur Hadi, who has no political, tribal, and popular base in the country? Let’s not forget that the majority of the lawmakers at the Yemeni parliament belong to the party of the former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is currently against Saudi Arabia and Mansur Hadi.

Developments in the recent days in Yemen show that the Saudi air strikes will most probably continue, though it is very unlikely that they will bear any fruit for Saudi Arabia. The question is till when such attacks will continue and to what extent Saudi Arabia will be ready to bear the brunt of their consequences? Some regions of Yemen have been occupied by Al-Qaeda-linked groups subsequent to Saudi air strikes, which is at odds with what Americans expect in Yemen. The continuation of the status quo will push Yemen’s domestic conditions toward chaos and instability. As a result, extremist and radical groups will continue to grow in the country, which will certainly face the Americans and Saudi Arabia with a difficult situation. Such a state of affairs will also pose new and serious threats to the entire region, especially the sensitive and highly strategic strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.

In order to finalize its grip on Yemen, Saudi Arabia will have no other choice, but to deploy ground forces to its southern neighbor. Perhaps, this can take place after the Yemeni army’s forces and equipment are worn out and when Ansarullah fighters lose some of their deterrent power. However, will entry of Saudi ground forces into Yemen be a wise decision? Aren’t war-hardened Houthis actually waiting to see Saudi ground forces in their country? The important point, which is worthy of consideration here, is that the enemies of Saudi Arabia in Yemen are not just Houthis. The majority of the Yemeni people do not have a positive attitude toward Saudi Arabia due to a variety of historical reasons. The developments in coming days will be important determinants in this regard.

Key Words: Saudi Arabia, invasion, Yemen, (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, US, Iran, Nuclear Talks, Yemen’s Ansarullah Fighters, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Al-Qaeda, Irani

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: Press TV

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