EXCLUSIVE! Saudi Arabia’s Reverse in Yemen: One Version – by Blogger: QuestionMark
While Riyadh’s decision to end its military operation against Yemen has been a longtime in coming and welcomed on humanitarian grounds if nothing else, it will no doubt now create fertile grounds for analysts seeking to define why Saudi Arabia took the uncharacteristic decision to launch an air assault against Yemen in the first place, only to then abruptly end it after some 27 days.
It is no surprise that the Saudi powers that be rushed to brief their allies yesterday by proudly shouting out their success in having achieved their set military and strategic objectives. But how many of these allies genuinely believe the Saudi calculus remains to be determined. Similarly, one would expect the other side, namely Iran and Hizbollah (supported in varying degrees by Russia and China), to utterly dismiss the bombastic Saudi claims of ‘victory’.
Below is an adaptation into English of an op-ed byline by Ibrahim Al Amin, the editor-in-chief of the Lebanese daily ‘Al-Akhbar’ (Arabic for ‘The News’), published in its 22nd April, 2015 issue. This byline lists vital events that led to Saudi Arabia’s cessation of military activities, once it became feasible and politically opportune for it to do so. Al-Amin reveals what he describes as “part of what happened” prior to Saudi’s u-turn, as collated from various “reliable and well positioned sources”. As an insider and observer of Arab media myself, I can only share with you what exists as fact, and hopefully try to dig deeper for further analytical illuminations. This Plato’s Guns article isn’t intended to adopt one version of events over others, as truth is not an exclusive property. The hope is that one will be exposed to various points of views so he/she may be able to gain an informed and wholesome understanding.
With much political and diplomatic activities reaching a fever pitch prior to the Saudi decision to halt its military ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, Ibrahim Al Amin decided to focus solely on the military situation on the ground in the 24-hour period prior to the Kingdom’s decision to end military operations. He lists, in chronological order, what he considers to be established facts:
1- Tehran came to be in possession of verified intelligence information regarding Riyadh’s intention to escalate its bombing campaigns to levels unseen before that would cause shocking numbers of Yemeni civilian casualties. It is well known that the Saudi Air Force at this stage had already long exhausted its set target bank and was therefore ineffectually re-bombing already hit military facilities, leaving therefore only civilian targets open for ‘fresh’ attacks.
2- With this intelligence information in hand, Iran immediately decided to send a naval force towards the Red Sea, crossing the waterway to the Bay of Aden. This led to a decision by Washington to reposition its naval force already in the area, as a means of checking the Iranian move that was described as ‘Iranian interventionist policy”. Tehran in turn played a second card in a clearly purposeful effort. It informed relevant European capitals that it will not stand silent and still in the face of Riyadh’s planned civilian massacres. Driven by the humanitarian and negative economic impact a Saudi escalation would cause the region as well as Europe, the Europeans were quick to react, rigorously contacting USA diplomatic channels and demanding the USA pressure Riyadh to immediately stop their attacks on Yemen. The Europeans went even further by dispatching a joint message to Riyadh highlighting their concerns over the “extreme” use of force that had already led to many civilian deaths and casualties in Yemen.
3- Military and security apparatuses affiliated with the so-called Saudi coalition were made aware of at least 15 failed attempts to liquidate the leadership of Yemen’s Ansarullah, including its leader Abdulmalik Al Houthy. This information, disseminated by Tehran, also gave evidence that the Saudi bombing sorties targeting Yemeni military hardware depots did not achieve their objectives (a roundabout way of telling whomever it may concern that the amount of missile caches held by the Yemenis remain, for all intents and purposes, intact and liable to be utilized if the aggression persists.
4- An ominous and unexpected military maneuver was conducted by Yemen’s resistance forces confronting the Saudi army, thereby instantly causing near panic in Riyadh. Yemen had dispatched a considerable task force towards the joint borders and actually conducted a lightning’ operation inside Saudi territories in which a large number of Saudi border guards were killed. The Saudis kept the lid on their losses and declared a state of emergency in an attempt to defend against a presumed Yemen land attack.
5- US naval forces already in the area of military action noted that the tactical move by the Iranian navy reflected an intent on the latter’s part to initiate a certain military move against Saudi Arabia,i n defense of Yemeni civilians. Washington was not long in responding to this assessment by declaring that Tehran’s naval move is not a mere empty threat. Tehran had clarified the purpose of its naval maneuver, assertively reminding Washington that Tehran was not legally bound by any limits in confronting the Saudi aggression against Yemeni civilian populations. This message resonated in Washington before the penny would drop, several hours later, in Riyadh.
6- On the morning of Tuesday 21 April, Mohammad Jawad Zareef, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs received a call from his US counterpart John Kerry, alluding to Washington’s view that it is not in America’s interest to widen the scope of conflict in the Gulf region. Kerry reportedly added that the US will exert maximum pressure on the Saudis to stop the war in exchange for regional efforts to achieve a political resolution to the conflict.
7- By lunch time (Gulf local time) Tehran received assurances from the USA that Saudi Arabia will indeed stop their air assaults and imminently announce the end of ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – but they fell short of announcing a full cessation of hostilities.
8- Evening time in the Gulf brought with it the first Saudi announcement of conditional end of military action. The Yemen Ansarullah hastened in delivering a message to the Sultanate of Oman (traditionally a trusted interlocutor in regional disputes) that the announcement by Riyadh was not such a big deal to them – that because Saudi Arabia has initiated the war, it was therefore expected and incumbent on it to end the war. Ansarullah went on to stress to the Omanis that they would not allow Riyadh to attain its strategic objectives via peace talks at a time when it could not do that by means of force.
Here, one has to wait for the dust to settle before one can clearly determine the kingdom’s strategic losses and the consequences of what many experts are calling its ‘misadventure’ in Yemen. I will endeavor to bring you further news and raw information from the Arab world as this historic event unfolds.