December 5, 2017


Saudis fail at their own conspiracy (Bruce Riedel, December 5, 2017, Al Monitor)

At a minimum, Saudi and coalition intelligence seems to have been caught off guard by the balance of power in the rebel-held north. Presumably they expected Saleh to do better. Or they just didn't do their homework. Since the removal of Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince this year, the security services have been less effective. But any intelligence lapses pale in comparison with the larger policy failures.

The Saudi conspiracy lacked a strategy for implementing it once Saleh flipped. There was no concrete plan to assist him and his loyalists. It is as misguided as the original decision to enter the war 2½ years ago when Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised a quick Decisive Storm operation would defeat the Houthis, Saleh and the Iranians.

The Houthis called Saleh's death historic and have appealed to his followers to remain in the rebellion and fight the Saudi coalition and Hadi. It's too soon to say how solid their grip on Sanaa and the north will be, but they have decisively won the first round. They have a strong nationalist message; most Yemenis despise their rich Gulf neighbors. [...]

The war in Yemen is costing Riyadh about $5 billion a month. It is a humanitarian catastrophe for the Yemeni people. The Saleh fiasco demonstrates that the Saudi coalition is flailing without a way out. The only winner is Iran. Washington needs to help Riyadh find a way out of the quagmire.

What's bad for the Sa'uds is good for the Middle East.

Posted by at December 5, 2017 7:20 PM


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