Will Saudi Arabia survive the Yemen War? – Re-published 2 September 2016, Republished again 30 August 2019


(In light of; the decline in the economy of SA, the apparently successful Yemeni guided missile attack on Taif, SA (700 Km from the Yemen border), and the presence of Yemeni forces in the Asir Province of SA it seems appropriate to re-publish this post.  It was originally posted in April, 2015)

"Pakistan's parliament voted on Friday not to join the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, dashing Riyadh's hopes for powerful support from outside of the region in its fight to halt Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia had asked fellow Sunni-majority Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops for the campaign, now in its third week, to stem the influence of Shi'ite Iran in what appears to be proxy war between the Gulf's two dominant powers.

While Saudi Arabia has the support of its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbors, Pakistan's parliament voted against becoming militarily involved.

"(Parliament) desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis," it said."  Reuters 



IMO Saudi Arabia lacks the military capability to intervene successfully in Yemen.  This is equally true in what was North Yemen (YAR) and also in the former PDRY.  SA's armed forces were always built for show with a lot of expensive equipment that they were never capable of employing except at the elementary "stick and rudder" level of operations.  The maintenance contracts for all that equipment have always been impressive.   On the ground the Saudis possess a Wahhabi beduin manned force in the SANG that is designed to maintain population and territorial control and in its more modern parts to overawe the Twelver Shia majority population of the Eastern Province (where the oil and gas is located).  The rest of the Saudi Land Forces are pretty much a jobs program for poor people from the Asir and Najd regions.  In its warlike pronouncements thus far SA is mimicking the PR employed by he US, but such PR methods do not win wars against determined opponents.  Egypt is dragging its feet.  The coalition allies have contributed little except for the US.  pl


"Ground troops would certainly face stiff resistance from the Houthi militiamen. Seasoned guerrilla fighters, they seized parts of southern Saudi Arabia during a brief war in 2009, killing over 100 Saudi troops.

Saudi Arabia has not ruled out a ground attack, but its allies appear wary of such a move. The kingdom has asked Pakistan to commit troops to the campaign, but that country is deeply divided over participating in an operation that could anger its own Shiite minority.

Though fraught with risk, continued airstrikes and a possible ground incursion may be the only choices that Saudi Arabia sees itself as having, said Imad Salamey, a Middle East expert at Lebanese American University. He said that officials in Riyadh probably are concerned that relenting could be perceived as weakness, especially by Iran."



IMO Saudi Arabia is headed for an embarrassing failure in Yemen, one that will reveal its true nature as a gang of nepotistic hedonists sitting on immense wealth.

What could be more tempting?  pl 

This entry was posted in Borg Wars, Current Affairs, Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to Will Saudi Arabia survive the Yemen War? – Re-published 2 September 2016, Republished again 30 August 2019

  1. FB Ali says:

    So far the Saudi response to the Pakistani move has been muted, but the UAE deputy foreign minister was quite blunt, warning Pakistan it would pay a “heavy price” for its “ambiguous stand”. “Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries”, he said.
    The Saudis and the Gulfies had assumed, in their usual fashion, that they were ‘buying’ Pakistan through their economic aid and numerous gifts to political personalities. Their disappointment will probably result in a significant reduction in such largesse in future, especially in the near-term.

  2. mbrenner says:

    I’ve spoken to a couple of well-placed friends In Islamabad, who say that the Pakistani leadership never took seriously the idea of sending military assets (above all, ground troops)to Saudi Arabia – nor was there any communication that the House of Saud might have interpreted otherwise. This should have been obvious. It seems to suggest that the Saudis have lost their composure to the degree that they are not thinking clearly. The series of miscalculations which they have made since the Arab Spring, as the colonel has pointed out, tells us they remain badly rattled. Just the right moment for the Obama people to embrace them and their harebrained schemes.

  3. Couldn’t agree more ! “Nepotistic hedonists” pretty much sums it up for me … That’s what they afraid of, to see their bluff being called by people taking Wahhabism more seriously within the kingdom itself … The attack on the great mosque of Mecca in 79 truly put fear into their hearts.

  4. b says:

    The judgement of failure or not of the Saudi operation depends on the Saudi’s aim.
    As far as I can tell the aim is to impoverish Yemen so much that it will need decades to come back on its feet. The aim is to “teach a lesson” to Yemenis. Don’t go against Saudis will or we will spread hunger, starvation and utter poverty over your lands.
    The Saudis have so far bombed three big food distribution centers. The great grain storage in Aden is in flames after artillery attacks from the sea. Two soft drink plants were bombed as well as a big diary.
    Yemen imports 90% of its wheat and 100% of its rice. The Saudi blockade turned ships with grain from the U.S. away. Oil tankers were turned away too. The refinery in Aden has shut down because of lack of raw materials.
    Without fuel the water pumps needed to get water from the depleted wells will not run. Should food arrive there will be no way to distribute it.
    These targets were not hit in error. There is clearly a campaign to hurt the population by taking away food and water. The targets are vetted by U.S. officers.
    Exclusive: U.S. expands intelligence sharing with Saudis in Yemen operation
    Until recent days, U.S. intelligence support was limited to examining Saudi targeting information to try to affirm its accuracy, U.S. and Saudi officials said.
    Looking at the targets hit the affirmation of “accuracy” of target information seems to be an affirmation by the Obama administration that Yemen should be starved to death.

  5. BabelFish says:

    Pat, is it possible for the KSA to rent an army from the Egyptians or others? They seem responsible for much of the Egyptian Army’s funding. Or would that be a PR disaster for the Egyptians?

  6. DeWitt says:

    A question to Col Lang and others, how does the family dynamic in the House of Saud play into this scenario? I’m wondering about King Salman, the aging line of successors and where our old ‘friend’ Bandar is lurking in all this. Is this ossification of leadership, hubris and indolence of the ruling family leading the Saudis into a series of increasingly desperate moves?

  7. Croesus says:

    Two Iranian military officers captured in Yemen
    not good news.

  8. b says:

    A remarkable op-ed by a Saudi who does not love the current regime
    “What Saudi Arabia wants in Yemen”
    “The Saudi goal is simple: Prevent the rise of any popularly supported government in the region that seeks self-determination. ”
    That is part of it. But this also deserves some thought.
    “The reality is that Saudi and Gulf Co-operation Council jets are effectively acting as al Qaeda’s air force by bombing the same group that had managed to uproot al Qaeda from several Yemeni regions.”
    Hmmm – Looks a bit similar to the use of AlQaeda forces by the same countries, including the U.S., in Libya and in Syria.

    Some other news from the area:
    The Saudis evacuated and destroyed 94 villages on THEIR side of the border. It looks like the Houthi infiltration into Saudi Arabia, like in 2009, is creating some trouble for them. Air traffic to the south east of Saudi Arabia is said to have stopped. Schools were closed.
    Hadi and the Saudis had counted on various tribes in the south to fight the Houthis. The Shabwa tribes didn’t take the bribes. They joined the Houthi and Saleh-army forces. The Mareb tribes are said to also turn against the Saudis. The nice plans of using Suaid/Qatari special forces in the south together with these tribesmen against Houthis goes out of the window.

  9. Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    ” its true nature as a gang of nepotistic hedonists”
    You forgot “hypocrites.”

  10. turcopolier says:

    The risk for the Saudis is that the Zeidis and other friends will decide to invade the Wadi Najran-Jizan area. The border up there amounts to not much more than a barbed wire fence and some border guards who would run like the devil if challenged. All the talk of Saudi troops “dug in ” on the border is just talk. The YAR Army had a lot of Zeidi tribesmen in it (both officers and men). Salih is a Zeidi and he was a Republican soldier in the civil war of the 1960s and then a sergeant before he began his career of ascension through assassination. It was a regular occurrence in the YAR Army for battalion commanders to defect from the Army with their troops and equipment after some tiff with Salih and return to their tribes where the government was invited to try and “come get us.” As a result the tribes have a lot of equipment; tanks, Sov APCs, Sove and US artillery, AAA, etc. The officers were often products of Sov service schools and US, British and Sove training by military missions resident in Yemen. Interestingly, no on I have ever heard of succeeded in training to teach the Yemenis to do “indirect fire” with artillery or mortars. They like to squint down the tube of a 155 how and pull the lanyard as though they were at Antietam or Borodino. When asked about this, they invariable replied that their way was “better for them.” In addition to these Zeidis (some of them Houthis)their are large formations of the present Yemen Army on the rebel side. IMO without Egyptian or Pakistani troops the Saudis are no match for these guys. pl

  11. turcopolier says:

    Actually, it is the US and their own business activities that pays for much of the Egyptian Army’s expenses. The Egyptians have long memories of their travail in Yemen. A naval blockade is one thing. Land warfare is another. pl

  12. Local militias in Aden say they captured two officers from the Quds force of the Pasdaran… Right, sounds very credible to me ! Soon they’ll tell us the two officers are Qasem Soleimani and Hussein Hamadani ! Sound like BS to me …

  13. BabelFish says:

    Pat, thank you. This helped me remember your descriptions of the Egyptian Army’s business activities, from prior postings. For sure, we have equipped them, particularly their air force.

  14. Fred says:

    Your anti-Americanism is showing. The Reuters article you link to does not say anything about bombing 3 food distribution center, turning away ships with gain or oil or naval gun fire destroyng any grain storage facility in Aden. It does say: “We are also helping identify ‘no strike’ areas they should avoid” to minimize any civilian casualties, the official said.”
    That is not “America approves of attacking target X,Y or Z” regardless of what that may be nor any of the targets you mention (without any actual factual reference).

  15. Fred says:

    What is the likelihood of ISIS (or the professionals of the old Republic of Iraq’s army) making a move into Saudi Arabia or Southern Iraq now that the attention is all drawn down in Yemen?

  16. turcopolier says:

    The longer the war in Yemen continues the greater the possibility that something like that might happen. pl

  17. b says:

    “The Reuters article you link to does not say anything about bombing 3 food distribution center, turning away ships with gain or oil or naval gun fire destroyng any grain storage facility in Aden. ”
    No, it doesn’t. And nowhere did I claim that it does.
    About food ships turned away:
    About oil ships turned away:
    Food distribution centers and diary destroyed:
    Refinery shut down:
    Grain storage hit:
    Oh, sure, those must all be “anti-American” sources. And using such sources like the NYT surely shows my “anti-Americanism”.
    “We are also helping identify ‘no strike’ areas they should avoid” to minimize any civilian casualties, the official said.”
    Yes. “Help” in minimizing “civilian casualties” of the bombing by just designating the civilians’ food as the target. Obviously that official “help” has not prevented systematic damage shown above which not probably but for sure creates a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.
    Fred, your rabbit nationalism (not my “anti-Americanism”) makes you blind to see the catastrophic damage your country is helping to cause in Yemen.

  18. b says:

    Nice op-ed in the Pakistani Express Tribune
    “The sweet sound of a glorious oil-drenched slap”
    The problem with these sheikhs and their razzle dazzle sheikhdoms is that money has not bought them wisdom. These piddling sheikhs have won a divine geological lottery that has catapulted them from camels to Ferraris. They dug their wealth, and never learnt how to create it. They then proceeded to outsource wisdom to the West while they themselves struggle to outgrow their own medieval tribal outlook towards life, the world, and Pakistan.


  19. elev8 says:

    You did not name any sources for some of your claims (as another commenter has also pointed out already).

  20. MartinJ says:

    The Saudis are in a very difficult spot. They can’t sit by and watch Iran take a foothold in government in Yemen. They have been forced into this action against their will. In reality its their own fault for not managing the situation with more guile or more effort, relying instead on suitcase diplomacy and buying off individuals.
    The Houthis in power in Sanaa do not really threaten the Kingdom but they do weaken the Saudis ability to force Iran into the compromise or defeat it desires to see in Syria.
    Their ability to destabilise the Houthis – IMO – is dependent on their ability to stir up and support internal dissent rather than any ill-conceived ground invasion, which will end in humiliation and disaster. Ali Muhsin, Saleh’s cousin and former strongman, is very quiet. He is key to Saudi ambitions in reigning in the Houthis.
    The issue is whether the Saudis are capable of planning anything resembling a strategy for real achievement of their (undisclosed) political aims rather than just reacting in a fit of pique and half-heartedly bombing Yemen into starvation.

  21. ThePaper says:

    The Sauds and their fat gulf cousins should had stick to using their beheading illegitimate child proxies (whatever brand is now in fashion Al Qaeda or IS). At least that way they would have avoided public humiliation and the possible realization by people still clueless that they have a lot of money (controlled by western bankers mostly), but they are powerless tools of their western (mostly US) protective powers who don’t stand a fight against the real Arab and Muslim regional powers.
    The gulfies don’t have enough (local and loyal) population to stand against any regional power whatever fancy toys they buy from US and other western sources (and the more sane of them like Oman don’t have any intention of starting a fight). The Saud Kingdom of Nightmare is purposely designed to be weak as a newborn, otherwise their hypocrite royalty and ideology would have been thrown to the toilet of history many decades ago. That’s why western powers had to intervene in panic against a lame incursion from Saddam’s in Kuwait. And also why Iraq had to be utterly destroyed and Iran has to be contained. Even if neither country had the intentions of taking over just the realization that they could if western support was shown to be lacking makes the empire masters who control the region spin in worry.

  22. Iraqi Sunnis invaded Kuwait [1990] and so will the Shias IMO!

  23. Castellio says:

    Nasrallah believes the Saudi move to be seriously self-defeating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYTfT49imqM

  24. Swami Bhut Jolokia says:

    Of course what’s particularly distressing to the Saudis about Pakistan’s refusal is that Pakistan is one of the few countries in the region that has had (some limited) success in fighting armed groups in remote areas. Some of that experience was gained at the feet of US forces.
    SA is truly effed.

  25. b says:

    See sources above in my response to Fred
    If any should be missing I’ll be happy to provide them. Until then there is mysterious thing called Google and a few searches may be even faster in telling you where my claims are sourced from.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I suppose when they were helping Saddam Hussein against Iran; they also had been forced into that action?
    I have come to the conclusion that the Gulfies reaction to Iran is best understood as being caused by visceral antipathy to Shia and envy of Iran.
    There is not grand strategic scheme here – just mistaking Iran for another Arab country,

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is my sense of it as well.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Saudis are defending Sunni Islam, no doubt, by aiming to cause wide-spread famine in Yemen.
    Like Israelis in Lebanon, they are teaching a lesson in Yemen to them.
    I expect a lesson will be learnt but not what Saudis are teaching.

  29. FB Ali says:

    “Some of that experience was gained at the feet of US forces”.
    I don’t know what exactly you mean by that. Many years ago there was a US SF team attached to the Frontier Corps that was policing the NW tribal areas. This was turfed out after the Raymond Davis affair in 2011.
    The real anti-TTP fighting occurred after that, in which both the FC and the army took part. There were no US troops or advisers in Pakistan then.

  30. Swami Bhut Jolokia says:

    FB Ali, I was referring to the co-operation before the Davis matter as well as the opportunity the Pakistani forces had to observe and learn from US methods (directly or indirectly) in Afghanistan and the ‘tribal’ areas.
    Off topic: does anyone know if the SA forces have an array of armed drones at their disposal? Are they being used in Yemen?

  31. Charles I says:

    Your question is analyzed in some detail here:
    “Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen led by financier prince with an eye on the throne
    The two-week bombing campaign in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia has already claimed hundreds of lives with no end in sight. Spearheading it is Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, a 34-year-old defense minister with no previous military experience. . .
    Mohammed bin Salman was appointed defense minister by his father just after he became Saudi Arabia’s new monarch in January. He now also acts as chief of royal protocol and chair of the country’s economic development council, having a say on the national budget.
    Mohammed, the youngest minister in Saudi Arabia and the world’s youngest defense minister, has a degree in law and experience in corporate governance. He started working alongside his father in 2009, when he was the governor of Riyadh province.
    . . . his role sending Saudi bombers across the border is fuelling his popularity across the Sunni Arab world. His Facebook page has thousands of followers and social media are reposting the images of Prince Mohammed in his war room and posters of him defeating Saudi Arabia’s enemies. An Arabic-language hashtag on Twitter advocates calling him the Person of the Year for 2015, with thousands of retweets.
    Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power and fame indicates a looming inheritance problem in Saudi Arabia. The succession in the monarchy is governed by so-called agnatic seniority, when the throne goes from a monarch to his younger brother rather than the elder son. King Salman is the last but one son of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. He is 79, while Crown Prince Muqrin is 69.
    With them both dying, the royal power is bound to go to the second generation of Saudi princes, and there is no certainty that the transition would go smoothly and would not descend into yet another Game of Thrones-style war that Saudi Arabia saw in the past.”
    He has a half-brother in the mix as well, who rode a similar military wave of popularity before the succession.

  32. b says:

    “Ali Muhsin, Saleh’s cousin and former strongman, is very quiet. He is key to Saudi ambitions in reigning in the Houthis.”

    Hamed Ghaleb @HamedGhaleb
    Commander of the 2nd Brigade in Azan .”was appointed by Hadi” surrender the Brigade to AQ after A call with Ali muhsen &no saudi airstrike!!

    Just like in Syria empowering AlQaeda for its purpose is the Saudi’s answer.

  33. Charles I says:

    Video On patrol with Saudi Arabia’s Yemen border guards:
    12 April 2015 Last updated at 10:36 BST
    As the conflict in Yemen rages, guards protecting Saudi Arabia’s border are on high alert for attacks by Houthi rebels.
    The Saudis are supporting the Yemeni government in its conflict with the rebels, and have launched air strikes.
    Kim Ghattas reports from the border, which has been largely inaccessible to the international media.

  34. MartinJ says:

    But they had no issue with Iran prior to 1979. Was it just the revolution’s religious face that scared the Gulfies?

  35. MartinJ says:

    AQ is too generic a label for Yemen. There are at least three different/competing versions of AQ in Yemen, arguably more. I would describe the version you quote here as Salafi-Jihadis aligned with their sponsor Ali Muhsin who take on the AQ label for convenience.
    Even if one adds all of these disparate Jihadi groups together they are all thoroughly despised by the local people and with empowerment from a central authority in Yemen bring them all to book. They can only exist while they have powerful state sponsors in Ali Muhsin and Ali Abdallah Saleh.
    The US has been involved in a proxy war between Saleh and Muhsin for several years, with “intel” going to the US drone programme to knock off one or the other’s “AQ” figures. Pointless. Embarrassing that they have been so thoroughly and shamelessly played by a bunch of hoods from one village in a minor district of northern Yemen.

  36. FB Ali says:

    My impression is that the Pakistan army has developed its own form of anti-terrorist operations – quite different from what the US has used in Afghanistan. This difference has arisen mainly because the tribal people living in these terrorist-infested border areas are fellow-citizens.
    Before launching an operation in an area the army clears it of all the tribesmen residing there – they are moved to camps outside the area of operations. Thus, when the army moves in, it is into a free-fire zone (the same goes for the air force supporting the operation). Anyone in the zone is treated as an enemy, and attacked. If resistance is encountered in any village or town, it is reduced by shelling and bombing rather than house-to-house street fighting.
    The area is slowly and systematically cleared out by a large force. The terrorists seldom put up a determined fight, and instead tend to melt away. However, their quite substantial infrastructure in the region, including arms manufacturing facilities and stocks, are systematically destroyed.
    When the whole area is cleared, and is considered secured, the destroyed infrastructure is repaired or replaced. Garrisons are established in the area. Then the civil population is gradually moved back into the area.

  37. Fred says:

    Call the whambulance. None of those references are stating the US approved the targets bombed or shelled by the arab coalition or ordered that they do so. I’m well aware that the US does not control Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Apparently you aren’t. Feel free to get the Germans to do something about it.

  38. FB Ali says:

    “…is fuelling his popularity across the Sunni Arab world”.
    It may do so for these idiots in the Gulf. In the rest of the Muslim world, the man and his country are a laughing stock.

  39. Swami Bhut Jolokia says:

    Sounds like the right way to go about it. What explains:
    1) the difference between US and Pakistani tactics?
    2) the continued presence of terrorist/insurgent organizations in the FATA?

  40. “who say that the Pakistani leadership never took seriously the idea of sending military assets”
    The Egyptian and Pakistani refusal to join simply reflects common sense and national interest. In contrast, the Saudis are apparently convinved that Pakistan, and Egypt, because they receive Saudi Money they owe them.
    I find it striking that apparently the Saudis think that they can solve all sorts of problems just by throwing money at them, like by hiring foreigners for menial tasks. These “menial tasks” apparently now extends to fighting.
    Either they are desperate and already need foreign help in the war they declared just a week or so ago (then that would have been a reckless move to make), or they are taking vassal participation as an entitlement.
    Well, it appears that nation states like Pakistan and Egypt, however flawed, are unlike some desert tribe which’s loyalty can be secured by bribing its chieftain.
    Doesn’t appear to work that well with Jihadis either (despite Bandar’s bragging about being able to switch them on and off).

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Did not Putin do the same thing in Chechnya?

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They had issues with Iran prior to 1978.
    It was a pan-Arab thing – in Syria, in Libya, in Iraq, in Saudi Arabia.
    The “Arab Gulf” canard started before 1978.
    A famous case goes back to 1954 – a Shia Iranian got sick in Masjid Al Haram and threw up on his clothes.
    He was taken to a judge and sentenced to death for desecrating the site and was forthwith beheaded.
    The Qum doctors protested to the Shah of Iran and even he had to recall the Iranian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia….
    I want to emphasize that in my opinion the anti-Iran Arab posture has it s roots in Shia-Sunni Divide as well as in Iran-Envy.

  43. Matthew says:

    FB Ali: But would this not provide an opportunity for Iran and China?
    BTW, if Saudi’s “gifts” are more madrassas, maybe Pakistan would be better off without Saudi’s generosity.

  44. FB Ali says:

    1) The main reason is the one I gave in my first paragraph: they don’t want to kill their fellow-citizens. This constraint does not apply to the US in Afghanistan and other places.
    2) The area is barren and hilly, with a few small centres of population. The terrorists seep back in small numbers into caves and other inaccessible places, from which they mount a few hit-and-run attacks on pickets, patrols etc. This situation is very different from the previous one, when they were established in the whole area, especially the towns/villages, used the local population as a recruitment base and support, and could mount large-scale attacks in distant areas.

  45. Charles I says:

    Control, maybe not, but the U.S. is refueling it.

  46. J says:

    Colonel, TTG, FBAli,
    Ran across the following article on Saudi oil I thought you would find interesting :
    Last fall, as oil prices crashed, Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister and the world’s de facto energy czar, went mum. Oil prices fell a further 10 percent by the end of the next day and kept going. Crude prices above $100 a barrel had been bringing a demand peak closer.

  47. FB Ali says:

    As far as I recall, the Russians didn’t evacuate the local civilians. They had to fend for themselves, getting out of the combat zone as best they could. The result was a lot of civilian casualties.
    (I could be wrong!)

  48. FB Ali says:

    Thank you!
    The Saudis can undoubtedly have the best technology in the world. They can hire/rent the best talent in the world. The one thing they don’t have is a lot of smart, savvy, hardworking young Saudis who can move the kingdom forward.
    This is their Achilles heel.

  49. different clue says:

    How much of an actual foothold is Iran taking in this Yemen situation?
    Maybe Iran is sending a few people and things in a low-cost opportunistic way now to cultivate some good opinion among the recipients. But I thought Iran had basically nothing to do with the Houthi rebellion to begin with.
    If my thinking is correct on that score, then KSA has created a perfect vacuum to suck some Iranian influence into, just as Israel created a perfect opportunity for Iran to inject influence in Southern Lebanon with its post-invasion occupation.

  50. Muzaffar Ali says:

    The last comment by Gen. FB Ali is a masterpiece and worth repeating here:
    “The Saudis can undoubtedly have the best technology in the world. They can hire/rent the best talent in the world. The one thing they don’t have is a lot of smart, savvy, hardworking young Saudis who can move the kingdom forward.
    This is their Achilles heel.”

  51. kooshy says:

    IMO, Is not that there is none available or possible, the reason is, that the kingdom is exactly afraid of young smart savvy Saudis (arabs) and is not allowing them.

  52. Abu Sinan says:

    General Ali was spot on. The Saudis, in general do not have a tradition of hardwork. The work ethic is something that has been missing in KSA for the last 4-5 decades, a fact much lamented by Saudis I know living and working in the US. As for the state of the art hardware, much of it is sitting unused in warehouses all over the country. It was never bought with the intention of using it, they never had enough men trained how to use it, it was meant to spend lavish amounts of money in the US and UK to better project power and influence on our lawmakers and in our defence sectors. That is one thing they have done well along with their teams of very expensive western PR firms.
    That, like many other things, is slowly changing. Lawmakers both here in the US and UK are starting to voice their opinions. At a recent conference I attended in London we had four MPs speaking on the issue and we now see multiple Congressman willing to stand up, even in small way, against Saudi crimes in Yemen.

  53. Abu Sinan says:

    By the way Colonel, in our visits to the Hill, State Department and trips abroad I regularly suggest your blog as a place where interested people can find very informed and knowledgeable people talking about events in the Middle East. I also use a couple of quotes from your blog concerning the role of Iran in Yemen. I think your opinions carry a gravitas that we cannot match. Thank you.

  54. The Beaver says:

    What are the Brits think they are doing?
    This is not Aden anymore

  55. Kooshy says:

    Sorry for OT, I hope someone can explain who are “the people of color” that we start to hear more often, does the term includes the white color people, green Martians, and the colorless people of all colors? What’s wrong with calling them black, white etc.

  56. Valissa says:

    It’s politically correct speech, as defined by what passes for the liberal intelligentsia. Then there are the professional rights activists who proselytize about the naming of groups of people (I am not a fan of any sort of evangelism, but political evangelism is esp. irritating).
    Can’t recall the book at the moment, but a researcher asked some Native Americans how they preferred to be referred to. He was quite shocked when most of them preferred being called Indians (like so many liberals were shocked that the great majority of Indians were OK with the Washington Redskins, etc). A couple of years ago I asked my sister-in-law whether she preferred “African American” or “Black.” She prefers “Black.”
    The MSM seems to believe it’s their job to proselytize about proper speech… perhaps because the reporters/editors,etc are true believers and don’t notice they are doing it. Or maybe they are afraid of the liberal political correctness police and professional activists who shriek so loudly at the slightest provocation. Or maybe both. But like any societal trend it triggers backlash. The alt-right is one example of that. But I think it will take an anti-political correctness trend from within the so-called left for there to be any progress on this “religious” issue. So far that seems to be limited to some comedians complaining about the PC college circuit, and refusing to do gigs are colleges.

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not to worry; I am a Person of Color – I am Beige.
    Some in my extended family verge of rather “Dark Beige” and some on “Light Beige”.
    However, NAACP never knocked at my proverbial door to include me.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think small such gestures are a bit too little and far too late.
    Saudi Arabia and Israel succeeded in neutralizing the potential of JCPOA to become a Peace Treaty and still-born it into a rickety Cease Fire deal that almost certainly decay and die before its expiration date.
    No surprises in any of that; Machiavelli would have been proud.

  59. Chris Chuba says:

    Col. in the U.S. we have this fixation on the idea of an honest broker.
    Having read your presentation on M.E. culture where they typically view deals as having a winner and a loser, could the U.S. play a useful role by negotiating a graceful retreat for the Saudis?
    Here we aren’t trying to be fair, just reduce the KSA’s sense of loss, so the need for an honest broker isn’t needed. I don’t know specific terms, perhaps have them disguise reparations as aid, arrange some security guarantees for them, etc. I am certain there are better ideas. I am more talking about how to approach this problem.
    I can just picture some Neocon blustering … ‘never have our friends been so afraid and our enemies so emboldened’ to make things worse. At the other end of the spectrum, there is nothing to be gained by humiliating the Saudis since they do have the resources to drag this on and inflict more suffering.

  60. Haralambos says:

    Col. Lang and others,
    A friend sent me this. He has worked in the Gulf for about 30 years with 20 of them in the KSA.I trust his on-the-ground take.
    “Lang was spot on in April and he’s even more accurate today. It’s no use having precision weaponry if you don’t have precision pilots. Evil though they may be, I believe the House of Saud has no wish to harm innocent Yemeni civilians. However, as someone who has been involved in [redacted] for several years, I am in a position to state the following: the pilots and WSOs have no discipline; they also lack any military aviation skills beyond the basics; they will not fulfil their missions if these involve danger; they will drop their ordnance when and where it suits them; and they will lie through their teeth in the face of all the radar and satellite proof that they were negligent, finally closing any disciplinary hearing by invoking the Koran. Yemeni civilian deaths are at such a high level because Saudi air crew do what suits themselves. The Saudi Air Force cadet corps is no more than a rabble of ill-disciplined, lazy, badly educated, low-skilled feckless youngsters with no interest in learning the skills needed by a modern Air Force.
    “Feel free to edit and submit the above. The scud in Taif will raise alarm bells. It means Riyadh could be next.”
    I imagine those of you who have an interest will understand what I redacted, and why.

  61. Haralambos says:

    I will attempt a brief explanation. I believe “people of color” might be due to the lack of inclusion in ethnic or geographical features. Many of my African friends and Caribbean friends and acquaintances would prefer “Black.” Many Latinos might also seem to prefer the term as would some (many?) Asians. This explanation just skims the surface. I think we all came from Africa many eons ago, but the science is contested by some.
    My father told me 60 years ago never to judge an individual by the color of their skin, their religious affiliation or ethnicity; he was a French-Canadian kid growing up in a tough neighborhood in the Depression and was bullied by Italian-American kids until one of the fathers, a butcher, canvassed the neighborhood and told families they would have to answer to him if it continued.There is more to tell about him and race, but I will not jack the thread.

  62. Kooshy says:

    Some one who I know is a second generation ( us born) East Indian whom his parents were born and migrated here from South Africa’ Cape Town back in 50′. He has dark skin but he is Indian dark, when I tease him, calling him African American he gets offended and upset. He prefers to be called just American which he is, he has never been to Africa even once.
    I understand and can accept first generation migrants like me to be called Iranian Americans, Tombakto Americans etc. but associating color of one’ skin to a continent to identify your citizens maybe a politicly corect form of dividing/ grouping the citizen by itself.

  63. Kooshy says:

    Do you mean “Sabzeh” which is Persian for olive skin

  64. C L says:

    Anyone who is not self defined as ‘white’ ‘WASP’ ‘Aryan’

  65. Henshaw says:

    Friend who has close involvement with SA/Gulf bemoans the difficulty of dealing with the locals because of their relentless sense of entitlement. Also comments that educated younger women are generally more realistic and ambitious and would be good value for the region if given a chance, but unlikely to happen since it would threaten traditional male status.

  66. Abu Sinan says:

    Rightly or wrongly,the war in Yemen is now being billed as the “American and Saudi war on Yemen.” That is how it is talked about on Arab TV and how it is written about on Arabic media. The Saudis have probably committed multiple war crimes in their attacks on Yemen and the US is being painted with that same brush. It is increasing hatred towards America. Our involvement in Yemen is a loose/loose sitation for us. It has shown that our biggest ally in the Gulf is weak and ineffectual, rather than sending a message of strength to the Iranians that the Saudis wanted. Because of our logistical and intelligence support for the Saudis, every woman, child, food depot and world heritage site the Saudis destroy, we are being lumped in with them as responsible. Every side possible in the region hates us even more, if that is possible, based on our support for the Saudis.
    It leaves us in a weak position politcally. Our leaders say we want them to pay more attention to their targets to minimize civilian casualties, but they ignore us andwe continue our support unabated. There needs to be an international investigation of the Saudis and the Coaltion for war crimes. The chances of that happening are next to none. In a meeting I was involved with the other day with the Yemen desk at the state department and a senior policy advisory to Samantha Powers I was given the distinct inpression that the US would not support an independent war crimes investigation against the Saudis, because if the Saudis were found to have committed war crimes, the US would potentially be implicated as well because of our support for the Saudis. Ie, an independent investigation of KSA will never happen.
    The sad fact is, even if the Saudis dont read history books, they could have asked their own retired military and political leaders what a war against Yemen would have gotten them. In the 1960s the Saudis bankrolled the grandfathers of the same people they are bombing today. It was completely avoidable.

  67. b says:

    The SCUD of Taif fell a bit short but there are more to come.
    Estimates on the ground find that the Saudis killed about 50,000 Yemenites. Sounds plausible as man areas in the north are not reachable/do not have communication, but are bombed heavily.
    Janes finds that the Saudis hide their own dead soldiers. Only two announced when many, many more are shown dead in Houthi videos.
    Saudi Arabia downplays border war casualties
    Al Masirah is a pro-Houthi TV station and publishes lots of combat (propaganda) videos from the fighting in Saudi Arabia
    Houthi/Saleh forces announced yesterday to increase manifold their attacks in Saudi Arabia – new forces were dispatched.

  68. Abu Sinan says:

    I get your point, but it flies in the face of their intentional bombing of Yemeni and world heritage sites that were not anywhere near otherwise acceptible targets. As for not wanting to intentionally harm Yemenis, I am not sure about that. When you look at hundreds of attacks against schools, hospitals and civilian targets, along with the fact that Yemenis are considered second class citizens in Saudi society, and the Shi’a (Zaidi) that they are killing are seen by many Saudis to be Kuffar, or unbelievers, deliberate targeting of civilians wouldnt surprise me. Some religious scholars in Saudi have already proclaimed that this is a valid jihad against the Shi’a of Yemen. I dont doubt the incompetence of the Saudi pilots, but I dont discount these other factors as well.

  69. Aka says:

    also don’t think Saudi pilots would want to fly too close to the ground (probably why we don’t see lot of Saudi attack helicopters in Yemen. After all we see plenty in Syria).
    Remember seeing a comment that Saudi AF is more of “exclusive flying club for elite” than an actual air force.

  70. LeaNder says:

    I can understand your sister-in-law, along the 70’s Black is Beautiful approach. But I also met people that argue it can only be used by other black people, otherwise it is an insult. …
    The problem with the current usage of the term “people of color” lies here, It’s a widely open definition, and thus embraced for and by people outside the narrow white definition:
    And in the larger context of Identity Politics, of course. But I would object that Identity is a natural premise of what is labeled “Cultural Marxism” around here.

  71. LeaNder says:

    “olive skin” as someone who likes colors and the visual arts, i was always somewhat startled when I stumbled across early European ethnographic. Why olive? But then, there was yellow too, wasn’t there?

  72. turcopolier says:

    If the weapon was a SCUD C and was fired from the Jizan area on the coast an area occupied by the Yemeni forces then I would think it would have fallen quite a bit short of Taif. I would have thought that the AFB at Khamis Mushayt or the city of Abha would have been better targets and well within range. A peculiarity of the SCUD series of missiles is that the missile hasa fixed range and the distance to the target must be calculated and the exact stand off for the firing position established for the rocket to range accurately. Then a particular fin on the bird must point at the target desired. All in all a primitive system but it works. pl

  73. LeaNder says:

    “European ethnographic.”
    Sorry, Kooshy, mental ellipsis (linguistics here), I don’t add this since I distrust your ability to fill in whatever is missing. In this case: literature.
    Now an interesting question would be, is there any equivalent to the OED where one could trace usage of the term in Persian over the ages, centuries? … Not that the OED does not contain mistakes, but it is helpful in a fast check approach.

  74. Poul says:

    This Youtube channel by Ram_Z is very good at finding videos of fighting between Saudis and Houthis & Co.
    The video mentioned by Jane’s show not only the LAV 90 crashing into a armoured ambulance but also the Saudi watch position being eliminated in close combat.
    It’s remarkable that the Saudis keep positioning a handful of men or less with little support which are then picked off by a larger group of Houthis

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    no – “gandom goon”.

  76. Linda Lau says:

    I couldn’t agree more with those who commented on the lack of smart, savvy hardworking (male) Saudis. Yes, it is because the rulers have not wanted to have them. The irony is that they have just such Saudis right under their noses – the women, but of course their talents will not be used. There are rare cases – I know two of them but they are certainly exceptions since they are Idrisis.

  77. turcopolier says:

    Linda Lau
    I do not share your optimism about Saudis. IMO they Saudi “people” are a combination of Wahhabi fanatics and hangers-on feeding from the trough of Al-Saud largesse. the westernized segment of society are IMO trivial and unimportant from a political POV. pl

  78. FB Ali says:

    Muzaffar Ali, Abu Sinan,
    Thank you for ‘resurrecting’ my old comment.
    It’s surprising how little has changed since we made our comments on this post last time. The war in Yemen still grinds on, showing few signs of ending. Saudi princeling Muhammad bin Salman continues on his feckless path, now fueled by visions manufactured out of whole cloth by high-priced US consultants. This situation would have led to unrest, if not an uprising, in any self-respecting polity, but you cannot expect anything like that from these Arabs.
    I have sometimes wondered why. After all, this was the land that produced the people who, fired by the message of the Prophet, erupted on the world scene in the 7th, and succeeding, centuries, and spread that message across most of the known world. However, it seems that, unfortunately, though this is the same land, these are not the descendants of those Arabs. These are the offshoot of the dregs left behind after all the years of worthwhile, enterprising people leaving for Baghdad, Damascus, Constantinople, Cairo, Marrakesh, Cordoba, Samarkand, etc, and the lands surrounding them. What remained behind were the ancestors of this pitiful lot.

  79. Babak Makkinejad says:

    If one pays attention to the corollaries of the Makkinejad Thesis, then one could see that Saudi Arabia, and indeed all Muslim polities, in as much as they are going against the Shia Iran, are marching down a dead end.
    The Seljuk Lands, remain, in my opinion, the only path forward for Muslim countries – politically, religiously, culturally, etc.
    Poor Arabs, so close to Diocletian States, so far from God.

  80. ex PFC Chuck says:

    “IMO Saudi Arabia lacks the military capability to intervene successfully in Yemen.”

    Thank you again for reminding me why I continue to read this site after finding it ten or so years ago. Your personal understanding of all aspects of the Middle East, and in particular the Arab countries, informed the prescience of that first sentence you wrote nearly four and a half years ago.

  81. Johnb says:

    Things appear to be moving in the Royal Saudi household as the Head of the Royal purr and his Deputy have both been removed. Policy failures exact consequences.

  82. Muzaffar Ali says:

    Col Lang
    Will appreciate if Gen FB Ali can update his views on the Yemen situation.

  83. turcopolier says:

    Muzaffar Ali
    I would like that as well.

  84. DH says:

    Wow, four-and-a-half years ago. I remember this article and was glad Pakistan did not want to play ball.

  85. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang, Muzaffar Ali,
    My friend Ingolf drew my attention to your comments today on this old thread; I might have missed them otherwise.
    I find there’s not much I can add to my last comment of 3 September 2016. I find it strange that the war in Yemen is still grinding on, though it is now being waged mostly using missiles. The Saudis are no better at this kind of warfare than they were previously — in spite of their wealth, and the foreign advisers and operators it enables them to acquire. They seem to be very good at targetting civilian facilities!
    I find that my contempt for the Saudis, both leaders and people, is undiminished. It is unfortunate that they are able to purchase US support for their policies. This is one of the unfortunate aspects of Trump’s rule – which has reduced the USA to a ‘banana republic’ in the eyes of most of the world!

  86. blue peacock says:

    FB Ali
    In the past 50 years has there been any President that hasn’t actively supported the House of Saud?

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I would like to remember here our dead collegue Charles I, on this forum, and on this thread, from 2015.

  88. Babak Makkinejad,
    I also. He was a thoughtful man.

  89. FB Ali says:

    I would second that. Charles was a very fine person, whose untimely death was a great loss!

  90. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    He was a fine fellow who had ruined his health through drink and drugs in youth.

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