Saudi Arabia’s Big Challenges in Yemen
Saudi Arabia has always pursued two objectives in its relations with Yemen: first, preventing unity in Yemen and, second, preventing the influence of foreign countries in this country.
A study of the trend of relations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen shows that Saudi Arabia has never been a true ally for Yemen and has always attempted to ignore the government of this country and establish contacts with Yemeni personalities and some Yemeni tribes. It has also given huge financial help to these people in order to keep the Yemeni government in a weak state.
On the other hand, the continuous defeats of Saudi-backed groups in Yemen against the Ansarullah movement have caused Saudi Arabia to gradually lose its domination over the future of Yemen and Ansarullah to gain control of Sana’a. The escape of General Mohsen al-Ahmar, who was Ansarullah’s archenemy, to Doha helped the decreasing trend of Saudi Arabia’s role and interference in Yemen.
Prior to the recent brutal Saudi attacks against Yemen, this country had directly clashed with Ansarullah forces and when these forces advanced into Saudi territories, this country was forced to accept the cease-fire. This time, Ansarullah was able to gain the support of the majority of the people due to its popularity and heavy bombardment of Saudi Arabia against people’s homes.
But this unequal war imposed against Yemen by Prince Mohammad Salman has not been able to achieve its objectives, including the return of Mansour Hadi and the surrender of Ansarullah, and instead, it has increased the offensive power of Ansarullah.
The following points are Saudi challenges caused by its attacks against Yemen:
1-Growing instability inside Saudi Arabia
A few days after Saudi Arabia’s air strikes against Yemen, France’s news agency quoted Riyadh’s Police Chief as saying that on April 7, 2015 two police officers were killed by two armed men in the eastern part of this city.
The unexpected resistance of Ansarullah forces and Yemen’s army has concerned Saudi officials of its security reflections and the prolongation of war with this country and increasing retaliatory attacks by Ansarullah forces. That is why Saudi Arabia has continued its brutal attacks against Yemen in order to break this resistance.
Recent missile attack by Ansarullah against Aramco oil tanks in Zahran, located in south of Saudi Arabia, indicates the power of this movement and fragility of Saudi Arabia’s defensive conditions.
2- Foreign Dimensions
Saudi Arabia’s air strikes against Yemen have seriously challenged this country’s dreams of leading the Sunni world of Islam in the public opinion of many Sunnis. Even some countries which were traditional allies of Saudi Arabia, including Pakistan, have refused to participate in this war which has angered Saudi officials.
The Foreign Minister of Indonesia has strongly condemned Saudi air strikes against Yemen and stressed that its embassy in Sana’a will continue its activities. He also stated that a diplomatic solution and negotiation is the best way to resolve the disputes between Saudi Arabia and Ansarullah.
3-Saudi Arabia’s weakness against Ansarullah
3-1- Ansarullah has proved in its previous fights, including against Saudi Arabia, that it has sufficient experience and power to fight against air strikes but it seems that it has not yet seriously responded to these attacks due to certain reasons:
- Until now, Ansarullah has been mainly concentrated in the north of Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s support of Takfiri groups in the South has prepared this opportunity for Ansarullah to contain these groups in the South.
- The lack of a serious response by the Yemeni army and Ansarullah against Saudi air strikes has rendered Saudi officials’ excuses ineffective and weakened the circle of coalition against Yemen and intensified international pressures on Saudi Arabia.
3-2- Reasons behind Saudi Arabia’s weakness
The fierce resistance of Ansarullah has prevented Saudi Arabia, with its powerful army and modern equipments and the West’s political and military support, from bringing this movement to its knees after forty days of continuous attacks and disrupting the solidarity of this country. The result was that Saudi Arabia was forced to accept a cease-fire several times to save its reputation.
The help of the Salafi and terrorist groups and also Mansour Hadi’s supporters did not lead to the capture of Aden and it becoming the headquarters of this fleeing president against Ansarullah. This was another defeat for Saudi Arabia.
Infiltrating 45 kilometers deep into Saudi territories and the attack launched against a military base and Aramco oil tanks in the south of Saudi Arabia are other examples of Saudi Arabia’s weakness.
In the end, it must be said that Saudi Arabia had claimed that Operation Decisive Storm would lead to diplomatic efforts but this objective was not achieved.