The Possibility of the Implementation A Ground Operation

KABUL: (Middle East Press) Ineffectiveness of the of the Saudi regime’s air operation besides some statements and actions of this regime, raised the possibility of launching a ground operation against the Yemeni revolutionary coalition powers led by Ansarullah Movement. However, many observers have doubts not only about its usefulness but about also about its implementation.

The ground operation against Yemen army’s military bases and Ansarullah Movement, are likely to be launched from three Northern, Western and Southern Yemeni provinces. Saudi ground operation could be launched from on the Saudi western borders and the northern Yemeni provinces of Saada and Al Jawf; which both are seized by Ansarullah and army. It’s noteworthy that Saudi Arabia experienced fighting against Ansarullah during six wars from mid-September to mid-February 2009. In the context of these wars which were launched during Ali Abdullah Saleh’s presidency, ground and air forces from both Saudi Arabia and Jordan participated in the war against Ansarullah Movement whose fighters did not exceed few thousand fighters. At the end Saudi- Jordan forces were defeated and four Yemeni provinces namely Sa’dah, Hajjah, Al Jawf and Omran were seized by Ansarullah Movement.

Today, Ansarullah consist of Houthis scattered forces who participated in the sixth war along with new populations of Zaidis. Currently this force’s fighters extend beyond ten thousand fighters and have a well-organized body supported by the thousands “al-Lijan al-Sha’biyah” -popular resistance groups- around towns and villages in Yemen. Ansarullah Movement is most powerful Yemeni defensive force today; moreover, they have formed a strong coalition with the Yemen army and are supported by millions of Yemenis.

A third possibility is that Saudi Arabia launches a ground attack through the small province of “Eden” located in southern part of Yemen. For a short period, almost two months, Eden was a shared activity center for fugitive Yemeni president Mansur Hadi affiliated militia and Al Qaeda. Those militant groups could provide the preliminaries required for a Saudi ground operation against Yemeni military positions and Ansarullah. But regarding the possibility of this operation in the south there are two basic points; the first point is that Aden and its coastal regions, are now completely in the hands of the Yemeni army and Ansarullah, and has been cleaned up from the presence of al-Qaeda, Ansar al-sharyh, and  Hadi affiliated militia forces. The second point is that operations on the coast of Aden and Al Hudaydah, is considere a trap for the Saudi military forces. It’s possible that upon penetration of the Saudi armed forces to a depth of one or two kilometers of these provinces, they will be sieged by the Yemen army, popular committees and Ansarullah and thereof their retreat will degenerate into a rout.

Evaluation of the possible Saudi ground operation

The first problem Saudi faces attacking Yemen is lack of “legitimacy”. Yemen army and Ansarullah have not launched any aggression against Saudi’s territories.  Moreover, Yemen’s internal condition is revolutionary that in political norms is considered highly legitimate. Assuming that local Yemeni groups have different opinions regarding how to run their country, this is purely an internal Yemeni issue and no foreign country can use it as an excuse to launch air or ground aggression on a  neighboring country.

The Yemeni people’s hardiness and perseverance, is the second problem the Saudi is faced with. The Yemeni people have extensive experience in confronting foreign invaders. Back in 1962, Jamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt leader sent sixty thousand troops, which toppled the Zaidi government and a pro-Jamal Abdel Nasser government ruled the country. However, when Egyptians left Yemen in early 1970, they had lost about fifty five thousand of their soldiers, where they now have a large mass grave site in Yemen. Ottomans and Greeks have a similar experience in Yemen. Even Saudi’s have not yet forgotten the heavy blow they experienced in early history.

Although the Saudi military operation against Yemen’s infrastructures and its underprivileged people is a heavy loss, but this infrastructure is too limited and traditional that damaging it won’t disrupt people’s lives in Yemen. This is the third problem Saudi is faced with in its air and ground assault.

The fourth problem Saudi Arabia is facing in Yemen is the country’s anti-American atmosphere along with excessive dependence of the house of Saud on the U.S.; these facts has increased the scope of this hatred to reach to Saudi Arabia. In fact, the US and Saudi’s problem with Yemen, at least, has begun in 2003 when Ansarullah Movement began to replace anti-Western approach instead of  that of  extremist Sunnis affiliated to Saudi Arabia.

The real revolution in Yemen starting from this year began with Zaidis assuming an attitude against the US and the Zionist Regime. In this context, Saudi Arabia, Al-Qaeda, the US and the former Yemeni government, conspired against the Zaidis and later on the conspiracy extended to include Shafi’iis in North Yemen. Moreover, the inability of Mansur and Saleh’s government to manage the political, social and security process in Yemen besides the economic and political turmoil in southern provinces brought about sympathy and solidarity of Yemeni Zaidis and Shafi’iis with Ansarullah. Accordingly, the Saudi “Decisive Storm” operation not only does not help to resolve the conflict but also will increase public opposition against the US and its regional and Yemeni affiliates.

The fifth problem Saudi regime faced with is that a classic army has to confront with guerilla forces. What has been seen in the history of asymmetric warfare is the triumph of guerrilla forces over the armies. The difficulty is doubled for armies fighting partisan forces in their land. On 31 March 2015, Gregory Johnson, US intelligence analysts, pointed to the difficulties Saudi Arabia’s military faces in its aggression on Yemen. He told CNN news network “Ansarullah movement is a well-trained group who know its land and fights there very well.” pointing to the Saudi military conflict with the Ansarullah Movement in 2009 Johnson told “Saudi Arabia fought Ansarullah Movement in 2009. In that year, the Saudi military’s performance was very poor. We must remember that Ansarullah up till now has been fighting for more than a decade. They are fully trained for fighting. Challenges and difficulties that the U.S. experienced in Afghanistan would be very similar, if not more difficult, to what is in Yemen.” On the same day the Independent wrote, “There is little chance that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries coalition air strikes be successful to push back Ansarullah Movement in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia’s sixth problem goes back to its military structure. Saudi military force is a small force that lacks offensive capabilities and foreigners are directing it whereas the success of a military force depends on the combination of both defensive and offensive capabilities. The Saudi army is a “rented army” where the technology and knowledge it uses are imported. Even its work forces are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, and even form Yemen. Such a military cannot launch an effective aggression against a country. Meanwhile, even super powers in the world are not any more using hard power to change situations. The failure of the US incursion into Iraq and Afghanistan is proof of this.

Saudi Arabia’s seventh problem is war’s cost is too high. Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan have claimed large amounts of money to accompany Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, none of these countries has participated in the military operations against Yemen, and Pakistan has declared openly only if Saudi Arabia was invaded they will get engaged. The Pakistan has even announced that they did not promise Saudi Arabia to participate in any air strikes or ground operation against Yemen.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia uses King Khalid air base at a distance of 121 km North West of Yemen in its air strikes against Yemen. Six to eight of the planes bombing in Yemen are refueling and backup aircrafts, which increases the costs of the operation for the Saudi regime

The eighth Saudi problem in their war against Yemen is that Yemeni people and the revolutionary groups in Yemen are Muslim. On the other hand, Saudis support extremist groups inside Yemen. War against Yemeni Muslims, Shiite or Sunni, upsets all Muslims. Meanwhile, people in the region do not remember that the Al Saud is engaged in any war against West or Zionists. Saudi Arabia’s position in the wars started by Zionist forces against the people of Lebanon and Gaza in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014 was explicitly or implicitly in favor of the Zionist regime. Grand Wahhabi Saudi Muftis announced illegitimacy of helping the downtrodden people in Lebanon and Gaza and prohibited it. As far as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia during the 33-day war, refused to pray for the victory of Hezbollah. Accordingly, some of the Arab and Islamic countries who have been named as members of the anti-Yemeni Coalition has not participated in military actions against the people of Yemen.

Meanwhile, the main Yemeni allies of Saudi Arabia in Yemen are: first, Ansar al-shria, Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, who is despicable among the nations and governments of the region and second, the militia affiliated to the fugitive Mansur Hadi which is basically considered as one of the factors behind the clashes in Yemen. Apart from being notorious, these two groups are weak compared to Ansarullah Movement, Yemeni army and the popular committees. Besides they have been defeated in every clash. Moreover, currently Ansar al-shria and the militia affiliated to the fugitive president have only the control of city of “Marib” at their hands, located at the center of Yemen; which is completely besieged from the North, West and South by the Yemeni army, Ansarullah and popular committees. Accordingly, while Saudi Arabia has waged a war against an Islamic state, it is experiencing pressure from Islamic states inside and outside the region and the reliance on Yemeni despicable groups makes the validity of the war against the army and Ansarullah unaccepted.

Saudi air operations during the first 10 days of the war, typically targeted the regions where Yemeni army and Ansarullah were fighting against al-Qaeda forces in the provinces of Aden, Lahij, Shabwah and Ma’rib. This shows that Saudi Arabia supports the notorious side, described as terrorists, in the internal Yemeni conflict.

Saudi Arabia’s ninth problem is that its important and sensitive facilities and installations are vulnerable if Yemen launches retaliatory operation against this regime. If Yemen lacks strategic economic and security installations, Saudi Arabia has sensitive installation even in regions close to Saudi-Yemen borders. The first issue is that the current conflict endangers export of 8.5 million barrels of oil from the Red Sea coast. Ansarullah Movement forces are positioned in Zaidi inhabited provinces like Sa’ada and Hajjah that lets them to make Saudi Arabia’s western coasts of the Red Sea unsafe via firing missiles with a range of 500 km or less. This issue causes pressure from the West, especially European Union countries, the main buyers of Saudi Arabia’s oil. In this context, the telegraph newspaper on the fifth day of Saudi Arabia’s invasion wrote “The attack on Yemen jeopardizes the Saudi oil infrastructure. Among the negative results of the Saudi intervention in Yemen, is threatening the oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the security of the world’s energy”.  On the same day, the “Independent” newspaper noted in an article “Al Ghawar, the giant Saudi oil field in the Shariqya province where most of the residents Shiites. Although the oil field is guarded by 30 thousand Saudi security guards, but still the Shiites s have their influence over there”. Back in March 30, Michael Wittner, a former CIA analyst, told the Telegraph that the only serious risk is a disruption of the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a potential choke-point for 3.8m barrels a day b/d of oil cargoes at the mouth of the Red Sea.”

In addition to the oil exportation’s threat, at a distance of about 200 km from the northern borders of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Saudis have at least one hundred air, terrestrial and marine bases. These are easy targets for the Yemeni partisan’s missiles. Moreover, the vast majority of these regions are inhabitants of Asir, Najran and Jizan, who apart from the historical attachment to their homeland of Yemen, consider themselves as part of Yemen’s Zaidi Shiites.

Saudi Arabia’s tenth problem is that it clearly speaks of the reinstallation of the ousted Yemeni President and his government that is not welcomed by the Yemeni nation. On the one hand, Mansur Hadi during the 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was overthrown by the first revolution, was one of the pillars of Saleh’s governance; therefore, in the eyes of the Yemeni revolutionaries, he is considered an accomplice of Ali Abdullah Saleh. On the other hand, Mansur Hadi came to power in 2012 in the framework of an international plot through a single-candidate election and with least number of votes. According to the agreements between the parties and the government in the Yemeni national dialogue, Mansour Hadi was supposed to enforce the agreements. He was asked to provide the basis for the formulation and adoption of a new constitution and holding free parliamentary elections, but did not put into practice any of his duties which resulted in political crisis in Yemen. From the Yemeni people’s point of view, Hadi’s move from Sanaa to Aden and the establishment of an independent state comes in the context of fractionation the country and deepening the country’s conflict. Mansour Hadi’s great crime is the request from foreigners to interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs, among which is the assault on Yemen’s associations and infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia’s insistence on restoring Mansur Hadi, actually his government, won’t be achieved, because today none of the effective Yemeni parties –except Yemen’s branch of Al Qaeda and Hadi Mansur’s affiliated militias- do support this attempt. The opposition of the influential party Al Moa’tamar, which belongs to the family of Al Ahmar, the silence of Al Islah, Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood, party and the opposition of the four joint party Al Liqa’a Al Mushtarak, indicates that the era of Hadi and his agents has reached its end. Al Saud’s gamble will experience a great defeat.



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