Yemen Crisis/Conflict & the "Decisive Storm" Coalition


Yesterday at 7:47 AM
...
Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran
Iranian diplomatic mission asked to leave the kingdom within 48 hours as Saudis evacuate embassy staff from Tehran

...
... and this night
'We are not natural-born enemies of Iran,' Saudi U.N. envoy says
Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would restore ties with Iran when Tehran stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work "very hard" to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat.

Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Iran on Sunday following the kingdom's execution of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce the execution.

When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters: "Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own."

He added, "If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran. We are not natural-born enemies of Iran."

On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh's example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers.

Jubeir blamed Iran's "aggressive policies" for the diplomatic action, alluding to years of tension that spilled over on Saturday night when Iranian protesters stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations but the other Gulf Arab countries - Kuwait, Qatar and Oman - stayed above the fray.

Shi'ite Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as an "excuse" to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions.

A man was shot dead in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province late on Sunday, and two Sunni mosques in Iraq's Shi'ite-majority Hilla province were bombed in the fallout from the dispute between the Middle East's top Sunni and Shi'ite powers.

But analysts said fears of a sectarian rupture across the Middle East were premature, and the break in Saudi-Iran relations could be more a symptom of existing strains than evidence of new ones.

"The downgrading of ties is not fundamentally a question of responding to executions and the storming of an embassy... (but rather) a function of a much deeper conflict between the two states," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

CALLS FOR RESTRAINT

Crude importer China declared itself "highly concerned" with the developments, in a rare foray into Middle East diplomacy. The United States and Germany called for restraint.

Russia offered to mediate an end to the dispute but a U.S. senior State Department official said Iran and Saudi Arabia must work out their differences themselves.

"It is not going to be helpful for us to own this process, certainly to be seen to be driving it," the U.S. official said. "They have to work this out between themselves if a solution to this tension is going to be long-lasting and sustainable."

Brent LCOc1 jumped 4 percent early on worries about the tensions. But the crude oil benchmark erased its gains and settled a few cents lower as fears rose about the global economy and the Middle East dispute looked unlikely to disrupt oil supplies immediately.


Stock markets across the Gulf dropped sharply, led by Qatar which fell more than 2.5 percent, with geopolitical jitters outweighing any benefit from stronger oil.

SYRIA, YEMEN

The row threatened to derail efforts to end Syria's five-year-old civil war, where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab powers support rebel groups against Iran-backed President Bashar al-Assad.

"It was very difficult to get everybody around the table," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "It certainly is going to be even more difficult to get everybody back around the table if you have the Saudis and the Iranians trading public barbs and public expressions of antagonism."

Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in bringing together Syria's political and armed opposition groups that would participate in peace talks with Assad's government.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Washington expected meetings between the warring parties in Syria to take place as scheduled this month. The United Nations aims to hold talks on Jan. 25 in Geneva.

Saudi U.N. Ambassador Mouallimi said his country's severing of ties with Iran would not affect its efforts to secure peace in Syria and Yemen. "We will attend the next Syria talks and we're not going to boycott them because of Iran or anybody else for that matter," he told reporters at the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Saudi foreign minister on Monday that Riyadh's decision to break off diplomatic ties with Iran was extremely troubling.

The U.N. chief urged Saudi Arabia to renew a ceasefire it ended this weekend with the Iran-allied Shi'ite Houthi group in Yemen that it has been bombing for nine months.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Iran is small compared with the size of their economies, but some business is routed through the United Arab Emirates; comprehensive figures are not available. Investment ties are also minimal, though Saudi food conglomerate Savola 2050.SE has major manufacturing operations in Iran.

Saudi Arabia executed Nimr and three other Shi'ites on terrorism charges on Saturday, alongside dozens of Sunni jihadists. Shi'ite Iran hailed him as a "martyr" and warned Saudi Arabia's ruling Al Saud family of "divine revenge".

Shi'ite groups united in condemnation of Saudi Arabia while Sunni powers rallied behind the kingdom, hardening a sectarian split that has torn apart communities across the Middle East and nourished the jihadist ideology of Islamic State.

Western powers, many of which supply billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Gulf Arab powers, tried to tamp down the tensions with Iran but also deplored the executions, as human rights groups strongly criticized Saudi Arabia's judicial process and protesters gathered outside Saudi embassies.
source:
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delft

Brigadier
In an article in Asia Times Ambassador Bhadrakumar gives this list of missile attacks into Saudi Arabia:
But the dismal picture is that the Yemeni war is coming home, finally – exposing the ineptness of Saudi armed forces to defend the country’s borders from predatory strikes from the Houthi coalition forces wreaking revenge.

On December 21, ballistic missiles were fired at the compound of Aramco Oil Company in Jazan Economic City, 150 kilometers from the border with Yemen. On December 28, Qaher-1 ballistic missiles were again fired at Aramco. (Qahaer-1 is the updated version of a Russian surface-to-surface missile.)

On December 23, Al-Faisal military base in Khamis Mushait region of Asir province came under rocket attack. On December 24, the al-Anad military base in Lahij province was hit by Lochka rockets. On December 27, Saudi National Guards Base in the southern city of Najran was hit with ballistic missiles. The Yemeni side claims that within the week, 550 Saudi troops were killed.

Plainly put, military skills are lacking despite expensive training imparted by western instructors, and morale is sapping. Suffice it to say, Salman’s reputation as a military mind has come under cloud.
From:
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He mentions more missile strikes than I remember reading about. I'm very sure my Dutch newspaper mentioned very few. How is the war really going?
 
... How is the war really going?
I don't know, but read this article a moment ago:
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The Yemeni people have been under the constant threat of death since the Saudi Arabian led coalition began the bombing of its neighbour in March 2015. Saudi Arabia began their air strikes against the country in an effort to influence the outcome of the Yemeni Civil War. Spearheading a coalition of nine Arab states, Saudi Arabia have imposed an aerial and naval blockade in Yemen in a military intervention code-named Operation Decisive Storm.

The intervention began when the internationally recognized but domestically contested Yemeni President Abd Hadi requested for assistance against a Houthi tribal offensive aimed at the capital city of Aden. Hitherto, President Hadi has fled to Saudi Arabia and the Saudi led coalition has continued to launch airstrikes against the Houthis and those loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

The situation in the Muslim Middle-East is not as complicated as it may seem. Essentially we are witnessing a war of dominance between two branches of Islam; Sunni and Shi’a.

Sunni is the largest branch of Islam and dominates most countries in the region; Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan are all indisputably Sunni led states, although some of these countries do contain sectarian tensions; there are a mix of both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims living in each of the aforementioned states.

On the other hand, governments/monarchies that profess Shi’a can be found in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen, although many of these countries also contain sectarian tensions. The Sunni’s and Shia’s are in conflict about who would lead the Muslim community after the Prophet Muhammad’s death.

Essentially, the Sunni states that are involved in the intervention in Yemen (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait Qatar and Bahrain) are doing so in order to halt a Shi’a backed coup in the region. The United States has also drastically increased its weapons supplies to these coalition states whilst also supplying intelligence and logistical support. Arms sales in the region of billions of dollars have been sold to the coalition states by the United States.

Last Sunday at least five people were been killed and 10 others injured after a “projectile”
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supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres in northern Yemen in what has been deemed as a violation of humanitarian law. It is believed that many others may still be trapped beneath piles of rubble.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who are also known as Doctors Without Borders claim that “According to our staff on the ground, at 9:20am one projectile impacted the Shiara Hospital in the Razeh district where MSF has been working since November 2015.”

MSF have stated that the attacking coalition led by Saudi Arabia, know the GPS coordinates of all medical facilities in Yemen including ones where MSF doctors practice.

“There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an airstrike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara Hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF,” said Raquel Ayora, MSF director of operations.

“Bombing hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law,” she said.

The war in the region has so far seen more than 6,000 people killed including over 2,800 civilians, with the majority of them dying due to air strikes, according to the
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The Shiara hospital is the third MSF facility to have been bombed in Yemen in less than three months. Dozens of medical facilities have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict due to Saudi-led airstrikes as well as poorly placed shelling by the Houthis and their allies.

The Shiara hospital hit on Sunday lies in the Razeh district of Saada province. Saada is known as a stronghold of the Houthis which the coalition has been fighting and the region has been home to some of the fiercest bombardment in Yemen. The destruction of the hospital has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis in the area without access to medical treatment for war injuries as well as diseases such as malaria.

The aerial and naval blockade implemented by the Saudi-led coalition has left the country in dire straights. Import restrictions on basic goods have led to an ever widening humanitarian crisis with over 80% of the population of Yemen now in need of basic assistance. Last month, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powell ironically
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humanitarian situation in Yemen despite the hypocrisy due to the role played by the US in the war. The USA has so far refused to push for accountability in the war by holding its own investigations into airstrikes.

Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa has been one of the most attacked cities in the region. According to Human Right’s Watch US manufactured cluster bombs have been dropped in neighborhoods in the capital. In addition to this, coalition warplanes have struck a wedding hall, a center for the blind and the city’s chamber of commerce.

Yemen’s pro-Saudi government have seemingly turned there backs on their citizens; the Yemenis government recently expelled a UN human rights envoy over what it called “unfair statements.” The expulsion came after Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticised the “terrible toll on civilians” during the conflict. The expulsion of the official caused an uproar and the government begrudgingly reversed their decision two days later.

Peace talks which were expected to be held in mid-January have been postponed until the end of the month after a rejection by the Houthis. Adam Baron, a founding member of the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies has stated that whereas both political sides; the coalition and the Houthis think they’re winning, it is the Yemenis people who are paying the price of the conflict “with a deepening humanitarian crisis, destruction of infrastructure, and the unraveling of the country’s entire social fabric.”
source, no idea how credible:
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now I found the map below (on Twitter, comes from a group which seems to relatively accurately cover the conflict in Syria, so I doubt it's pure fan-art); if it was genuine, it would mean territorial LOSSES of the Saudi-led coalition at places (as it should follow from the wiki map further below), after some nine months of the campaign, including actually chunks of Saudi territory, which would be pathetic:



 
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plawolf

Brigadier
If the Saudis are indeed making such a mess of what should have been a total cakewalk of a campaign against a hopelessly outmatched foe, they better pray they never get their wish and have a throw down with Iran directly.

Although it was pretty clear from the get go that the Saudi mission was high risk.

Leaving aside the obvious question marks over the competence and commitment of Saudi troops, one of the cardinal rules of foreign military adventurism is to not crap where you live.

Even Europe is finding out the hard way that inciting uprising and conflicts too close to home can cause serious blowback from refugees alone from somewhere as 'far' away as Syria. The Saudis picking a fight with someone they share a porous and long land boarder with was just asking for trouble.

Now the Saudis are stuck. They cannot win this outright without serious outside help, but no one looks remotely interested in sticking their nose in that bowl of mess. With Yemen literally being next door, I cannot imagine walking away is a viable option either, since doing so and leaving a hostile faction in power is bound to cause all sorts of long term problems for Saudi internal security.

In their own way, the Saudis royals can be as divorced from reality and good common sense as the North Korean ruling class at times.
 

B.I.B.

Senior Member
If the Saudis are indeed making such a mess of what should have been a total cakewalk of a campaign against a hopelessly outmatched foe, they better pray they never get their wish and have a throw down with Iran directly.

Although it was pretty clear from the get go that the Saudi mission was high risk.

Leaving aside the obvious question marks over the competence and commitment of Saudi troops, one of the cardinal rules of foreign military adventurism is to not crap where you live.

Even Europe is finding out the hard way that inciting uprising and conflicts too close to home can cause serious blowback from refugees alone from somewhere as 'far' away as Syria. The Saudis picking a fight with someone they share a porous and long land boarder with was just asking for trouble.

Now the Saudis are stuck. They cannot win this outright without serious outside help, but no one looks remotely interested in sticking their nose in that bowl of mess. With Yemen literally being next door, I cannot imagine walking away is a viable option either, since doing so and leaving a hostile faction in power is bound to cause all sorts of long term problems for Saudi internal security.

In their own way, the Saudis royals can be as divorced from reality and good common sense as the North Korean ruling class at times.
Although published over 10yrs I found this book "Arabs at War" by K Pollock very informative on the performance of Arab armies
 
now I found the map below (on Twitter, comes from a group which seems to relatively accurately cover the conflict in Syria, so I doubt it's pure fan-art); if it was genuine, it would mean territorial LOSSES of the Saudi-led coalition at places (as it should follow from the wiki map further below), after some nine months of the campaign, including actually chunks of Saudi territory, which would be pathetic:



The maps are stylized and there is a lot of sparsely or unpopulated desert and mountains involved so I would interpret the limited differences in between those maps as mostly stalemate.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
now I found a video which purports to show a Saudi M1A2S Abrams captured (intact?) INSIDE of Saudi Arabia, in
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area,
by Houthis who then blasted it off:
Looks to have either broke down or ran out of fuel, and was abandoned. Which would explain why the Houthis blew it up rather than drove off with it.

Sloppy that the Saudis didn't scuttle the tank and allowed the Houthis to take it intact.

Who knows what equipment and/or Intel they managed to gather from it.
 

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