Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Saudis and allies paying steep price for intervention in Yemen

As long as the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen engaged solely in a bombing campaign, they were free of casualties except for a few losses at the southern Saudi border.
Recently however, the coalition has sent troops to help retake the port of Aden and aid southern militia to clear out other areas in the south. The result was almost inevitable. The coalition is now paying the price in casualties. The first major incident involved the loss of 45 UAE troops, five from Bahrain and 10 more Saudi Arabians killed.
The Houthis fired a missile and scored a hit on a weapons depot in Maarib province that caused a huge blast that killed the 45 UAE troops. The Saudis confirmed that 10 of their troops were killed as well. This is the first time the Saudis have confirmed having troops in the area. The Bahrain government reported their casualties happened on the Yemen Saudi border but gave no details. There is sporadic cross-border firing. The coalition was quick to reply to the carnage inflicted by the Houthis with revenge bombing attacks.
The revenge bombings killed many innocent people who had nothing to do with the Houthi raid. There were 44 civilians reported killed including 24 in the capital Sanaa. Even more ironic was an attack in northern Jawf Province. Saudi warplanes attacked a funeral wake for a man who had been killed by the Houthis. Twenty more tribesmen were killed in the strike.
Sheik Mohamed Al Nahyan said in a meeting with exiled Yemen preisdent Mansour Hadi that the UAE would continue the operation against Houthi militias in Yemen until security and stability are restored to the country. The problem is that many of those loyal at present to Hadi in the south, are actually southern separatists. They want an autonomous or even independent south Yemen. They will fight the Houthis, but when Hadi was in power they opposed him as well often even clashing with his armed forces. The Saudis and the UAE also face troops loyal to former president Saleh who has sided with the Houthis. The coalition also is confronted by a much stronger presence of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula(AQAP), who not only have seized several important cities including Mukalla the capital of Hadrawmut, but also occupy part of Aden. They have formed alliances with local tribes against the Houthi. They are not likely to look kindly on the return of Hadi from exile made possible only by foreign military force. Intervention is not a recipe for stability and security but internal conflict without end. Hadi and the coalition insist that they war will go on until they retake the whole country. However, if casualties continue to mount, there may finally be a push for peace.
Already the toll of those killed in the war is upwards of 4,500 people including hundreds of children according to the United Nations. At the same time, many have been displaced internally or have fled the country. Those who remain face famine and lack of basic necessities and health services on the brink of collapse as shown on the appended video.


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