A useful map

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59 Responses to A useful map

  1. turcopolier says:

    From this it looks like the filmed flight was on Route 15 to the NW through the mountains rather than to the east. That actually makes better sense. West is in the direction of civilization.

  2. different clue says:

    I know this question is irrelevant to the main point of the map, but . . .
    is the irregular wandering blue line an ephemeral flash-flood watercourse?
    If so, is there any flash-flood water-harvesting agriculture anywhere along it?

  3. luke8929 says:

    I just watched this one on the Youtube.
    That is a lot of booty, storage wars on steroids and whats with the lighters in front of the APC’s before they burn them, is that the new “pen is mightier than the sword” the bic lighter is mightier than the Saudi APC, be funny if it wasn’t such a pathetic effort by the Saudi’s. Surely the US will intervene with US troops if this keeps up?

  4. Peter AU 1 says:

    Map of the operation (Houthi presentation)
    Same place google maps
    At a twitter account that posted the earliest pics to come out, when scrolling through the account for the days prior had this.. “They have contacted the intelligence of Yemeni army in advance and led thousands of Saudi mercenaries into besiege.” https://twitter.com/Sunkway_China/status/1176158241220259841
    No other tweets to put that comment in context and it came out several days before Houthi made the operation public.

  5. Peter AU 1 says:

    These pics of Saudi forces taking a corner on the road..
    Appears to be this corner https://www.google.com.au/maps/@17.2062804,44.2149071,207m/data=!3m1!1e3

  6. oldman22 says:

    Your map makes it clear that this attack was in Saudi. I have seen several articles claiming that it took place across the border in Yemen, including statements by Juan Cole for the past 2 days.
    Also: thanks for your translation of Houthi military spokesman.
    More video here:

  7. Peter AU 1 says:

    The houthi map of the operation shows arrows coming into the road at two points.
    Southern point is the bends that match pics in my previous comment, northern point is here.
    Houthi map shows slight right bend, a straight then a slight left bend when northern most arrows hit the road.
    I think this is the location.

  8. turcopolier says:

    luke 8929
    Don’t post things twice!!!

  9. Peter, those are helpful maps. Seems the operation took place on the road between Najran, SA and Katif, Yemen on Yemeni territory fifteen miles or so south of the border. The Saudi force was lured into advancing towards Katif while the Yemeni/Houthi “foot cavalry ranged the hills to envelop the road-bound Saudis. Seems the Saudis never read Robert Rogers “Rules of Ranging.” They never put out flanking parties to guard the main column.
    Light infantry rules!

  10. oldman22 says:

    Question for you warriors:
    Are those TOW missiles in the video, with the little red window
    on the target? Are they shoulder fired, or tripod, or what?

  11. Paco says:

    Amazing clip, America and Israel are mentioned in unison quite a few times, after Allah of course, maybe they’re thanking them for the booty.

  12. ISL says:

    I have found Juancole not to be a very reliable source. Moreover, his biases tend to line up with US deep state propaganda – aka the borg (usually rather shallow propaganda at that) except for Palestine (and Iraq when it was a republican president’s war).

  13. charly says:

    The only way to defeat the Houthi’s is with the hunger weapon. But the US army can’t use the hunger weapon, at least not so openly, against fighters which are not mortal enemies.

  14. turcopolier says:

    Between Katif, Yemen and Najran, SA? that doesn’t seem likely to me. BTW the name of the wide spot in the raos is “Kitaf,” not “Katif.” “Katif” or “Qatif” is a place in the outskirts of “Dammam” in the Eastern Province of SA. The state of the road would suggest that Route 1556 is not the road in the videos A hard surface, crowned road that is curbed seems very unlikely that far north in Sadah governorate. pl

  15. Most look to be AT-4 and AT-5, one towards the end might be an AT-14. None of them are shoulder fired.

  16. The map used by Brigadier Saree in his briefing coincides with the ISWNews map provided by Peter AU. Both maps definitely show the battle area as between Katif and Najran. The Google topographical view of the area also shows a paved road in that area.

  17. JP Billen says:

    I did not see the red window you mention. But other shots in the videos of ATGMs seemed to me to be similar to or knock-offs of the Russian made Konkurs or the Iranian Tosan. Less than half the weight of TOW and launcher, so better suited for light infantry when you have to lug them up steep slopes in the mountains.

  18. Oldman22, The video from Brigadier Saree’s briefing showed a couple of Houthis carrying Toophan rounds up a hill. The Toophan is an Iranian copy of our TOW and has been seen in Yemen. Prior to this war, the Yemeni Army stockpiled a lot of AT weapons in the mountains. Some Toophans have also been intercepted on their way to Yemen by dhow. The video also shows a Houthi SPG-9 in action. The Houthis employ the Iranian version of the Konkurs ATGM as well. Here’s a video of the Toophan and Tosun in action in Yemen.
    The TOW/Toophan is man portable, but just barely. We carried our TOWs out to the field on a 10 mile march a few times in the 70s. It damn near killed my AT section. Two people carrying each piece would be much better.

  19. turcopolier says:

    They are probably carrying it a few hundred yards from a truck to a firing position.

  20. Sorry about Kitaf/Katif. I must be developing dyslexia. Have to talk to the VA about that. 🙂

  21. I agree. A toophan in the back of a pickup could easily range the smaller trails in the area. Were pack animals ever used in the area?

  22. turcopolier says:

    So you and Peter AU think the Saudi column was trying to escape NE on Route 1556 to a junction with the east-west road from Najran into the desert? What is the link to the ISW map?

  23. turcopolier says:

    Donkeys or horses. Yemenis don’t usually mess with camels.

  24. We trained with pack animals in the 10th back in the 80s. I think they still do so.

  25. JP Billen says:

    The World Bank financed road construction and improvement in that area during the early aughts in Saleh’s time as President. The road was rebuilt from Sana’a through Kitaf and al-Buqa and crosses at the Saudi border post of al-Khadhra to the east of Najran.
    The satellite photos that Peter AU1 posted above clearly look like the road is paved. I wonder if the pavement was done by the construction firm founded by bin-Laden’s father?

  26. turcopolier says:

    This footage appears to be filmed in Syria, not anywhere in SW Arabia.

  27. turcopolier says:

    JP Billen
    Where is the citation for your assertion about re-construction of Route 1556?

  28. turcopolier says:

    TTG and Peter AU
    What is ISW’s source for the map operational data?

  29. Here’s the latest from ISWNews. It shows the Houthis have now pushed much closer to the border. They have produced a lot of battle maps over the last few years and have been quite accurate. I have no idea who they use as sources. In today’s update, they “Match[ed] the image released by Ansar Allah with satellite images show that Wadi al-Fara’ is in control of Ansar Allah.” I think the map used by Brigadier Saree in his briefing was probably one of the sources for their first map.

  30. ISWNews also provided a readout of Brigadier Saree’s briefing on the second phase of this operation. The Saudis lost in two weeks what it took them 3 weeks to gain.

  31. turcopolier says:

    “The enemy lost within ten DAYS what it achieved in three YEARS.”

  32. turcopolier says:

    TTG et al
    OK I am convinced that Nasr min Allah took place south of the border along Route 1556. ISW is not to be trusted. It is a neocon site run by Jack Keane.

  33. Peter AU 1 says:

    Link showing first and second stage ofthe operation.
    This has Yemen Wrath printed on it in english plus some arabic
    This is the link to the Houthi run news site.
    I was able to access it until yesterday. Appears to be blocked for me now.
    There is also an Arabic Houthi news site that I run onto the other day but did not save a link.
    In my first comment I had thought it was part of the Houthi military presentation, but it may have been in an article at the Houthi site rather than the presentation.
    The above map marked Yemen Wrath does apear to be their military presentation.
    Twitter acc for the spokesman of the armed forces.
    The Houthi movement or Ansa Allah look to have set up their own government and military somewhat similar to east Ukraine.
    Military seems to consist of a very small core of trained professionals that wear uniform and are equipped with TOW and sniper rifles ect, the bulk of the military consisting of tribal militias.
    Saleh and the military loyal to him formed an alliance when the Houthi movement took Sanna, but after Saleh was killed, much of the military loyal to Saleh followed his son to the south.
    My guess is the Houthi professional military core consists of a few of the original military plus newcomers that have had extra training from the likes of Iran and Hezbollah.
    ““We are giving Yemen’s popular Army advisory and intellectual assistance and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) is in charge of this,” General Baqeri told China’s Phoenix TV during a recent visit to Beijing.”
    In the videos I have watched in the past, I have not seen any pack animals. Everything carried. Usually all the vehicles are burned, sometimes they would take a heavy machine gun and carry it off.

  34. oldman22 says:

    My view on Juan Cole:
    He is very good writing about religion. He is Bahai, and has deeply studied the wrinkles of religion in ME. He speaks Farsi, so his insights into Iran politics are often excellent, e.g., his expose of the myth created by Israel that Iran vowed to destroy Israel.
    He is biased when he writes about USA politics, as he is a strong supporter of Hillary.

  35. JP Billen says:

    Stephen Caton’s book on Yemen. The World Bank put money into President Saleh’s Rural Access Program (RAP). Many Yemen roads were upgraded. But Cantex Mining Corp of Canada had an interest in exploiting copper, nickel, and cobalt in that area south of the border with Najran back before the civil war started. So my bet is Saleh pushed for that particular road to be paved to satisfy Cantex.

  36. Peter AU 1 says:

    Houthi arabic news site. Appears to have different articles to the other site.
    Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia is something to keep in mind when looking at the recent Houthi operations. I think Khashoggi was part of this.
    The Saudi mercs caught in the trap recieved no support from Saudi land or air forces until the very end when they bombed the mercs.
    An account from one of the mercs that got out of the trap and kept running until home in south Yemen, was that another unit was to follow in behind them to hold the road open. I can no longer find this piece, perhaps nothing in, perhaps there is.
    Muslim brotherhood in Yemen sided with the Houthi movement in the 2011 uprising, but sided with the south in 2014.
    Qatar and Turkey, who back MB, are on bad terms with current Saudi monarchy and on good terms with Iran who back the Houthi…

  37. turcopolier says:

    Too much talk of mercenaries. This is meaningless in SW Arabia where essentially medieval conditions of social relations prevail. One takes service as the mood strikes one. As a note to all those doing military analysis here. You will have to endure my constant questioning of your sources. That is what I do. Epistemology, “How do you know that…” is the theme.

  38. turcopolier says:

    “after Saleh was killed, much of the military loyal to Saleh followed his son to the south.” What is your source for this judgement? my impression has been that the Missile Battalion of the Houthi/YemenArmy loyalists are all former Yemen Army. Saree is no wild eyed tribesman.

  39. turcopolier says:

    JP Billen
    Very good.

  40. Peter AU 1 says:

    Several news reports at the time or shortly after.
    There was no numbers mentioned. Mostly is an assumption on my part based on troops that were loyal to Saleh moved their loyalty to his son. I take it some of the military that operated under Saleh senior would have sympathies with the Houthi movement and stayed.

  41. Peter AU 1 says:

    By mercenaries, I do not mean ex military professionals that fight for money. Poor people enlisting with the Saudi’s so they can send a paycheck home.
    Houthi statements on the operation say a good number were south Yemeni’s.
    The article on one of the mercs who escaped and headed back to south Yemen. also similar. (Iran onto that arabic piece by chance and can no longer find it)
    My opinion is based on the image I gained over a few days of different internet searches, odd pieces (sentences paragraphs) that gave me this picture turning up here and there.
    The only solid pieces that could be linked to are the Houthi statements and that one article in arabic.

  42. Peter AU 1 says:

    One other point why I feel the majority of the military followed Saleh junior to the south.
    The impression I have, is that prior to Saleh seniors death, most if not all strikes into Saudi Arabia were missile attack. There seemed very few if any of these for a time while the Houthi reorganised and since then I have the impression most strikes are drone either cargo carrying drones or cruise missile type drones.
    From what I have read, Saleh was antagonistic towards Iran, Iran only forming a close alliance with the Houthi movement in the time after Saleh’s death.

  43. Peter AU 1 says:

    Institute for the Study of War (ISW) https://twitter.com/TheStudyofWar
    Islamic World News (IWN) https://twitter.com/A7_Mirza
    Maps have ISWNews marked on them.
    Website http://www.english.iswnews.com/
    I could not find much about the site. Has Southfront listed as a partner.
    I take it Keane is connected to Institute for Study of War.
    IWS which marks its maps with ISWNews appear to be a different group.

  44. turcopolier says:

    The Institute for the Study of War is a neocon think tank run by the Kagans with retired general Jack Keane as chairman of the boear. That means he does not run the place, just lends his name.

  45. Aristophones says:

    Shame there is virtually no Western reporters on the ground in Yemen

  46. JP Billen says:

    (Reuters) – “Some members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and business elite have expressed frustration with the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure last month.”
    Maybe there is hope that bin-Salman’s Saudi suicide policy will end? Reuters also mentioned some pushback from the crown prince’s unnamed “loyal” followers, but I suspect that is BS. Half or more of the country is against him – i.e. other princes that he screwed over, businessmen, two million Shia in the east, most Hejazi, plus a growing distrust of him by some Sunni Imams for his policies on women.

  47. different clue says:

    I found a map of Najran and area which permits zooming in or out and also permits moving around some. It does not show any relief the way your map does. The little I have looked at it doesn’t seem to show watercourses marked “as” watercourses, though maybe it does and I just don’t know how to see them.
    Anyway, in case useful, here is the link.

  48. different clue says:

    ( I have tried a little bit looking at online maps and stuff and haven’t yet been able to answer my own question. I did find a photo of the kind of “water-harvesting” agriculture I was thinking of. This article about an experiment in terrace-building doesn’t say anything about ephemeral flash-flood watercourses, but the photo shows the men standing in what looks to me like a little dry flash-flood watercourse.)

  49. Terence Gore says:

    interesting interview by scott horton with a yemeni blogger
    nasser arrabyee alleges
    1) surrendering forces were mostly yemeni, including many adolescents paid by KSA and poorly if at all trained
    2) time line of battle needs to be moved back to prior to bombing of prison
    3) KSA bombed prison in retribution of troops surrendering
    a little difficult to listen to. Prison bombing link

  50. JP Billen says:

    Different Clue,
    Google maps in Satellite Imagery mode shows some green fields on both sides of the Wadi Najran. Not sure if those are the results of flash-flood water-harvesting agriculture or wells. The sharp edges of the river basin seem to have berms to prevent flash flooding.

  51. Robert Waddell says:

    On Google Earth at location: N17d 24′ 28″, E44d 00′ 51″ shows a moderate size 250m wide dam on the Wadi Najran; most likely water storage. It’s right on the border between SA and Yemen. A gravel road 9km connects it to the western side of Najran town via two tunnels. Not enough resolution to see any accompanying water pipe and no sign of downstream water treatment plant. The dam is empty, and looking at the vegetation on the high side of the dam has been for some time.

  52. Robert Waddell says:

    On Google Earth at location: N17d 24′ 28″, E44d 00′ 51″ shows a moderate size 250m wide dam on the Wadi Najran; most likely water storage. It’s right on the border between SA and Yemen. A gravel road 9km connects it to the western side of Najran town via two tunnels. Not enough resolution to see any accompanying water pipe and no sign of downstream water treatment plant. The dam is empty, and looking at the vegetation on the high side of the dam has been for some time.

  53. different clue says:

    Thank you for this. It is much better for showing the actual look of the land than the schematic-diagram map I found. Of course I don’t know how to interpret much of what I see.
    I also think I saw the berms on either side. I couldn’t see anything that looks like flowing water diversion and capture. So I guess the farms are well/pump watered. I wonder what percent of the water that runs down the wadi eventually soaks in and down as against what percent eventually just evaporates.

  54. JP Billen says:

    Saudi whistleblower?
    al-Manar TV in Lebanon reports bin-Salman has delayed or abandoned his planned trip to Najran. They cite the whistleblower to be a Saudi twitter account labeled #mujtahid.
    Does bin-Salman fear the Houthis will attack him? Or does he fear an assassination attempt by steamed up Saudi soldiers? Apparently there has been problems with logistical support and morale with the troops at the Yemeni border.

  55. JP Billen says:

    Najran river has been known to flash flood in the past when it rains hard in the mountains. That was probably before the dam was built that Robert Wadell mentioned above. This particular google image must have been taken in the dry season, or when the dam was not releasing water. I would bet they use some percolation techniques in the riverbed or other methods for aquifer recharge. The people there are not dummies about water, they have been living in dry country for millennia,

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