Saudi are “in” in Yemen

Per Al Jazeera News, Saudi Arabia is conducting air strikes and shelling in North Yemen against the Houthi areas.

This is a “hot” version of the proxy war between Saudi (sunni) and Iran (shia) Islam.

Sunni and Shia Islam.  Sunni in green, Shia in red.  (Ibadi Purple)

Sunni and Shia Islam. Sunni in green, Shia in red. (Ibadi Purple)

This, as they say, is going to be interesting…

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies have launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who deposed the US-backed Yemeni president last month.
Adel al-Jubair, Saudi ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.
The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen
Adel al-Jubair, Saudi ambassador to US
“The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country,” Jubair told reporters in Washington.
Military sources said rebel positions were hit at various locations in Sanaa, including at al-Daylami airbase and the adjacent international airport in north Sanaa, as well as the presidential complex seized by the rebels in January.

So we (the USA) are allies of The House Of Saud, who are Wahabi (sort of extra hard core Sunni) and are enemies of Iran (Shia) who we are helping attack ISIS / ISIL (Sunni) while we are negotiating to prevent them (Iran) from getting a nuclear bomb while we have sanctions against them. In the mean time, we are against Syria (who ISIS are attacking) while supporting Israel (who they all hate) except that Obama is upset with Israel and wants to throw them under the Arab bus… while ISIL is stirring up trouble in Yemen and joining in the trouble in Lybia where we are on who’s side again? So Saudi is dropping their own bombs now… Well, that’s at least a clear point… maybe.

I really do wish that we (the USA Government) had a clue what we are doing and just what side we are backing in all this… or better yet, just stopped handing weapons and support to folks who (while they hate each other) universally agree that we ought to be converted to Islam or killed.


Fun to watch, though. I suppose.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Saudi are “in” in Yemen

  1. adrianvance says:

    Well, we should be in good shape. We have a Muslim President who bows to King Saud.

    Google “Two Minute Conservative” for clarity.

  2. tom0mason says:

    I have (on different blogs) pointed out, over the past year or more, that Yemen was crumbing to chaos. Internal social disorder (caused in the main by a shortages of food, fuel, and water), the rise of terrorist group, assignations of officials, the interests of Big Oil, etc, etc. As I said then, Yemen will become the source and the recruiting sergeant for more terrorists fighters and more terrorism both within and outside the region.
    Yemen is unfortunately caught in the crossfire of the regions politics and religion, international political interference, wannabe international terror, and internal strife, however with the correct amount of negligent outside interference Yemen could decompose into another Somalia or worse.

    Some people I have pointed these thing out to were mildly interested but not many, sad really as all I’m left with is the unhappy feeling of ‘I told you so’.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting for sure. Other sources have mentioned that the U.S. is giving some material and intelligence assistance to Saudi Arabia ( I presume munitions support ie a ship load of bombs) and intelligence including presumably satellite recon support. Egypt is also now chipping in, with Egyptian ships assisting with control of Gulf of Aden.

    Note that strategically, if Iran got a firm hold on Yemen it would make it much easier for them to cut off the Gulf of Hormuz as it would provide an observation and launching point outside the choke point, and make control of the southern exit of the Suez canal (which Egypt controls) possible.

    It would be a critical square on the game board if things turned to dog poo down there.
    Would not surprise me to see Russia participating in the background to gain access to an Indian Ocean port of strategic advantage to them and counter balance to U.S. and British presence in Diego Garcia.

    It would also make a nice radar site to monitor flights out of Diego Garcia headed north if there was a major conflict in the area of the Gulf of Hormuz.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Strategically thinking in this “Game of Thrones”, I would counter the Persians, much as I dislike the House of Saud. Nostradamus said that those of the Orient, now Iran, were no ones friends.
    No clear cut good guys in this dogfight. They all want to kill Us, so we should help them kill each other.
    Such is War or Geo-politics. :-( pg

  5. Ralph B says:

    CDR Salamander has a similar thread…quite the tangled web

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Yemen is going to be an interesting “test case”. It looks like a consortium of Muslim States was assembled, plus the USA as the satellite / tech-info provider. Now just who arranged for whom is a very interesting question (that will likely never be answered…)

    However, it includes Pakistan. You know, nuclear capable Pakistan. (No, I don’t think they have a very deliverable device, but you never know for sure until it gets used…) So we are presently seeing the first “war” of nuclear Islam (not counting India / Pakistan border disputes with the occasional small arms as ‘war’) and this is between Sunni and Shia (the Houthi are Shia per the news). No idea what role Pakistan is playing, yet.

    Egypt is putting some ships off the shore of Yemen (headed there now) and has offered ground troops (that might or might not include armor… it would be easier for Saudi armor to just drive over than for Egypt to move theirs across water or via air). As to what Sudan and Morocco are contributing or what the other 4 States are, that’s still unknown to me. (Saudi, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, USA. That gets me 6. So the other four are? Maybe the official government of Yemen and a couple of other Arab Peninsula States? Oman? UAE? Probably ought to dig that out of some article somewhere…)

    I’d expect this to be a resounding spanking for Shia Disruption in a predominantly Sunni area. The big wild card is how Iran will react. (Trouble in Lebanon as they try to move the focus onto Israel and off Yemen?) I’d not be surprised to see a lot of Houthi “martyred” (voluntarily or otherwise) in the process.

    I’ve also started to lose track of just where all the Muslim World is in near chaos and fighting (it’s rather dynamic). We had an attempt to spread the chaos into Tunisia via outside agitators (hopefully failed), and we have the USA bombing Libya (again…) supporting one side against some other faction, so Libya is still “in play”. Egypt seems to have settled down after their (recent?) revolution. Nigeria has had sporadic civil war in the north (muslim) part against the south, as has Sudan vs South Sudan (that only recently broke off). Yemen is a mess, as is Syria, while Lebanon (remember when it was called “Christian Lebanon” anyone?) has become an armed camp of the Shia backed Hezbollah (as is Gaza and to a lesser extent the West Bank). Then there is Iraq and the perpetual war…

    So where IS there something like stability in the Arab / Muslim world? Morocco and Tunisia (sort of) with Algeria only occasionally being disruptive. Saudi, Oman and UAE along with Bahrain (via a fairly strong oppression of the Shia by the ruling Sunni). Kuwait lately? I have trouble calling Iran “stable” other than in a “strongly oppressed civilians are quiet” kind of way. Indonesia is stable and quiet, but headed for a population wall “right quick” as their island is filling up so “keep watching here”… Oh, and lets not forget the basket case of Somalia… showing promise but not much…. But Jordan is looking fairly peaceful and stable… maybe. And Turkey is only longing to get into the fray, but not actually joining much, though I wonder if they are one of The Ten…. (Just internally questioning their desire to look to The West for their future…) Though they have occasionally sent boats of disrupters toward Israel.

    Sigh. The “Arab Spring” is looking much more like the “Winter of our discontents”… and headed for the Fall of Shia… This could very easily blow up into a civil war between the forces of order and civilization and those of disruption and revolution (played by Iran and their proxies).

    Add in the dynamic that most of the global oil sold (as opposed to produced and consumed in country – i.e. the USA and Russia and Indonesia and…) passes through two straits there and comes from the area, and it just isn’t looking all that good for global stability either.

    What A Mess.

    With luck it will be a short war, Saudi will put their favorite puppet in place, flood enough money to the peons to buy their quiet, and move on. If not, we’ve got major disruptions on each side of The House Of Saud along with internal tensions and this could turn into one heck of a game of Go… It would be very interesting to see if Iran has the guts to get into it directly and sends a bunch of boats toward UAE / Oman / Bahrain… They would lose, badly, but only after US ships got into the mix. It will depend on how much they want to force that outcome.

    All this while oil prices are relatively low (but rising today) and likely to not go very high very fast as the globe has learned new ways to get gas and oil… so “money stress” in the Arab oil states too.


    Yes. I’ve watched it too (but didn’t say anything since most folks would just way “Yemen what?”). Waiting while it slowly decayed. I’d actually figured on another year or so of civil war and the take over by some faction before anyone would ‘get into it’ (what with the USA being in a ‘not our troops’ frame of mind and the local Arabs being loath to do their own dirty work).

    It can be sooo painful to watch how slowly international events move. Government-in-action… you can parse where to put the pauses…

    @Another Ian:

    I particularly liked this part:

    Naturally the White House press corps wanted the press secretary to acknowledge things had not gone as planned. But no. Josh Earnest had his talking point and was sticking with it (just like the talking point that Obama meant what he said when he called the shooting of innocents in a French kosher market “random”). For over three minutes Earnest refused to acknowledge their model was not a mess. Pressed again, he insisted this is still a “template that has succeeded.” An incredulous Jonathan Karl of ABC News continued to press him, but Earnest refused to admit the obvious, namely that the administration had failed in its leading from behind, light footprint.

    It was embarrassing and unbelievable. But it was also instructive…

    Perhaps “The Press” are finally getting some clue about why blindly supporting Obama is a Very Bad Idea. (Blindly supporting anyone on any side because that is YOUR side is a bad idea… always question authority. Always.)

    I must admit, that, as a general rule, I’d asked “Why is this OUR fight?” and advocated for a “not us” approach. With things like advocating that we not be very involved in any Muslim war. It has been “instructive” to see that play out…

    Some of it has been as I’d expected. (More muslim country armies taking casualties, us not so much, and a good thing…) Some of it has been very much unexpected. (Iran causing a boat load of trouble all over the place and the collapse of both Egypt and Syria along the way). Overall, I’m reconsidering my advocacy of a “not us” approach. (For one thing, I’d expected Europe to take care of guarding their own oil supply and not hold our coat… instead Europe has been remarkably absent from all fronts. Nice coat rack, guys…)

    So, IMHO, the jury is still out on the ‘hands off’ approach. It has been much more chaotic than I’d expected, and with much less ‘western states’ involvement to pick up the slack of American inaction; yet we’ve gotten to a more or less stable and sane Egypt ( I think… maybe…) and finally the Muslim World has started to carry their own water and clean up their own messes (that they are making ever faster lately…).

    But Right Now it’s still a heck of a mess. And I’m just not sure if it is better or worse than when we had our own nice dictatorial puppets in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc. etc… and the occasional offensive dictator on the other side (Russian puppet in Syria and then there was Libya and Kadaffi…) Only time will tell, but I’m getting the feeling I won’t like the answer and that “let them live in their own mess without us” is going to be one heck of a big mess….

    @Larry Ledwick:

    Hmmmm…. Interesting points on Russia. I’d not included them as a ‘dynamic’ on the Arabian Peninsula… maybe I ought too… ( I’m a bit surprised as their low involvement in Syria as it is a big base for them. Yes, involved, but I’d expected a much larger footprint. ) Perhaps Putin is more interested in a land game in Europe…


    I’m torn between thinking Obama has a very failed policy; and occasionally thinking maybe he has it right in a hidden crafty deceptive way and is busy getting the whole region into turmoil and supplying arms to everyone so they can all shoot at each other in a circular firing squad. Then I have my morning coffee and go back to thinking it’s just a failed approach ;-)

    @Ralph B and Larry:

    I’ll read those links of said morning coffee and be back with comments on them in a few…

  7. J Martin says:

    In defence of Europe if I may… the west should stay out of Muslim internecine spats. No matter which side one supports it will only promote increased terrorism from the other side. And as for oil shortages as a result of muslims having a session of killing each other, we can make up with Russia and buy their oil or frack our own. So I reckon the US should go shopping for a coat rack.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Liked that CDR Salamander article. Yes, similar, but more, um, er, “clear”… ;-)

    I’m going to reproduce it here, since I can’t comment on it there

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    What if we gave a war and everyone came

    The Middle East sure is a dog’s breakfast.

    The last few years have seen a victory squandered in Iraq that is now soaked in blood again.

    Syria is to a point that all one can expect is for it to be bled to still a lighter shade of pale.

    Lebanon is, well, from worse to more worse.

    Israel has won the Golan Heights argument for the next few generations, will keep building in the West Bank, and is still the jewel of that part of the world – but is having a bad relationship on a personal level with its benefactor.

    Jordan is being held together by duct tape, bailing wire, and the best Arab leader of his generation.

    Saudi Arabia is all over the place and decided yesterday to invade Yemen again to kill Shia. Looks like they are leading a Sunni coalition of the spanking with fighter jets from Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain. Yesterday saw Egypt and Pakistan stating they are in.

    Interesting. As I’ve stated before, only someone who understands the plot lines of Game of Thrones will explain how to the north of Saudi Arabia that in conjunction with Sunni partners we support Iranian proxies and Iranian-actuals to kill Sunni, and then to the south of Saudi Arabia we have those same Sunni partners are at war with Iranian proxies.

    Someone needs some quality time on the white-board to diagram it. I understand it in my head, but for the life of me I can’t explain it in under 5,000 words and five diagrams.

    Oman is … well Omanish – we can call that a draw along with Morocco and Algeria.

    Yemen … check your news feed on this proxy to not-so-proxy Sunni-Shia conflict, as I am sure my few words above did not help at all.

    Egypt is back under the only think that works there – a military dictatorship.

    Tunisia is trying to pretend it is a suburb of Caan … but is infected with Islamic fundamentalists who have the morality of Thulsa Doom.

    Libya is Madmaxistan.

    The only nations doing well is … the Islamic Republic of Iran … who we are are now acting as their tactical air force. Aloha snackbar … or something like that. Let’s make nose-art out of it.

    The future? At best, we cull the herd and let the scavengers fight over the remains of the Islamic State. Even if the Islamic State is defeated, thousands of radicalized young fighters who survive will return home to France, Germany, Britain, Australia and the USA. They will not come home in peace.

    What to do about Iran? We missed that boat when we abandoned the Green Revolution years ago.

    Long war … a very long war.

    I especially like that “Aloha Snackbar” though it took me until after coffee to catch that it was a snicker at jihadis yelling just before dying…

    Though maybe “Aloha AttheBar” is closer in actual sound values ;-)


    Three links to read? Like to keep me busy, eh?

    Looks like Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain are “in” so that means the USA “logistical” support is not being counted in the “who’s in” list. I get them as 5, and then Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi, Morocco as 5 more, total of 10. Guess we are a “silent partner”…

    Though one of the comments said they heard Oman was not in…

    Then that Failed State article has:

    Geographically, it is divided by mountain ranges and deserts, causing a large number of regional separatist movements to propagate. Furthermore, demographically, the country is split along sectarian Sunni/Shia lines, and also faces the additional threat of a large ‘youth bulge’, causing there to be around 40% unemployment rates for people under 30 in the country.

    That 40% unemployment is a killer. Having loads of kids while having no industry is a clear path to failure (so one wonders why the EU is heading that way with Spain in the lead… but at least with a lower birth rate… though with incredibly shrinking industry…)

    Islam in general has this problem. Lots of money in total, neatly funneled to a very few hyper rich who own the oil, and not a lot of industry for everyone else; so lots of bored time to make babies… oh, and low education level for women. THE thing that correlates strongest with low birth rates is higher education for women… So ever more disparity with ever more bored poor young men looking for meaning in their life and finding both money and purpose in weapons. Sigh.

    @J. Martin:

    FWIW, I’m conflicted on the European Coat Rack. On the one hand I find it very annoying that the EU loves to play the USA into wars as their proxy (after all, can’t have ‘former colonial powers’ going into former colonial states as that would cause trouble… goes the argument). At the same time, I’m more P.O.d at the USA for being the proxy (though we also have our own reasons).

    And generally, yes, I agree with the notion of western states just staying the hell out and letting them kill each other off, then deal with the winner. So I don’t see the USA needing a new coat rack (the EU is still doing a fine job of it…) so not going shopping…. Mostly just wish that the USA would stop taking off the coat…

    OTOH, the outcome of a ‘light footprint’ and almost ‘hands off’ has been one heck of a regional mess with all sorts of things blowing up (literally and figuratively) and I think the jury is still out on the question of “good or bad long term”.

    But at least the Saudi are doing some of their own water carrying …

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    I think one other consideration to add to the mix, the various nations participating in this combined effort might also have reached the point that they recognize that direct armed conflict with Iran and its proxies are coming soon to a nation near you, and are using Yemen like Hitler used Spain as a handy testing ground to blood some of the troops and give them some combat experience and gain first hand experience with weapons effects and utilization in combat.

    As you say they have done precious little actual combat on their own behalf since they quit shooting at Israel in the 1970’s. That means that they have almost no NCO level and below troops with actual combat experience.

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    To understand this game, you must understand the players you can see as well as those that you can not.
    There is a war for guidance of “that which is”. Light vs Dark, co-operative evolution vs. survival of the fittest. National interests as well as Religion.
    Obama is just a tool being played by others as he feeds his ego needs. Just as many others are in pursuit of their desires.

    Have faith, the light is winning, willing co-operation of ethical beings is the way of the future.

    There are times when you let the opposition think they are winning, at great cost to them, to encourage them to exhaust themselves.
    We are constantly barraged by the media on the cost to us but hear next to nothing of the cost to the Jehads and their numbers are relative few. Mr Smith points to the fact that while the Packs have detonated a device, to actually build and deliver a nuclear bomb is no small thing. Iran/Persia can be a trouble maker, just as they have done for 5,000 years, still not a world heavy weight.

    This too will pass. After the “Great Deceiver” there will come come a “Wise Old Man”. This war with the followers of the “Darkness” will end with their destruction.

    People can rule themselves without the “guidance” of a self appointed Elite. We don’t need them. pg

  11. says:

    Here there be dragons

  12. sabretoothed says:

    You think Goldman is going to spike Gold like 1980s again when Iran Iraq war starting out? They are starting the we are running out of Gold BS now lol

  13. R. de Haan says:

    Right PG, we don’t need any of them. They’re all parasitic screw ups.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yemen — it’s complicated.

    Not the Soviets had a presence in Yemen in the late 60’s (south Yemen), they probably retain significant back channel connections and intelligence infrastructure.

  15. Larry Ledwick says:

    Drat — Note the Soviets

  16. Gail Combs says:

    And where is China in this mess? China has been making inroads in Africa .

    November 26 2014 China and the Middle East: More Than Oil

    China has spread its ties to the Middle East in ways that go beyond oil. Below, Abbās Varij Kāzemi and Xiangming Chen argue that if we want to know what China’s next global move might be, we should watch the Middle East.

    A stroll through the stores in Tehran reveals the omnipresence of China-made consumer goods.

    State-owned China Railway Cons-truction Corporation completed the Mecca monorail project in Saudi Arabia in November 2010, just in time to accommodate the 2.8 million people who arrived for Hajj. The agreement between China and Iran to build a railway line from Tehran to the Iraqi border is part of an overall plan to link the Middle East to China through Central Asia….

    (Long article)

    Brookings Institution June 6, 2013 China-Middle East Energy Relations: In testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

    ….China imports more oil from the Middle East than any other region of the world. In 2011, China imported 2.9 million barrels per day (b/d) of Middle Eastern oil, which accounted for 60 percent of China’s oil imports. For comparison, the United States imported 2.5 million barrels per day of oil from the Middle East in 2011, accounting for 26 percent of US oil imports.[1]

    China’s largest crude oil supplier is Saudi Arabia, which provided China with one-fifth of its crude oil imports — almost 1.1 million b/d – last year.[2] Saudi Arabia has been China’s top crude oil supplier for the past decade. The Kingdom has established itself as a very reliable supplier in both word and deed. Saudi officials have repeatedly reassured the Chinese that they can count on Saudi Arabia to provide China with the oil it needs for continued economic growth.[3] Saudi Aramco has backed up this commitment with its participation in a joint venture refinery in China’s Fujian Province, which processes Saudi crude.

    China’s oil imports from Iran– its fourth largest supplier in 2012 and third largest supplier for most of the previous decade– have recently declined, probably as a result of US sanctions aimed at reducing Iran’s revenue from crude oil exports……

    You can bet China is somewhere in the mess.

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