by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 5, Ramadan, 1436)
The Najdi Bedouins’ attack on Yemen has resulted in not only Saudi casualties but also given rise to freedom movements inside the kingdom. The Bedouins may have bitten more than they can chew.
Two recent developments related to the Najdi Bedouins’ war on Yemen appear to have caused great panic in Riyadh. Both are ominous for the Bedouins’ grip on power. Successful retaliatory strikes against Saudi military bases in the south of the country by Ansarullah and Yemeni army units have not only caused much physical damage but have also greatly demoralized the already ill-motivated Saudi soldiers. Second, a new and even more ominous development is the emergence of Ahrar al-Najran Movement in the southwest of the country. Comprising a number of regional tribes, they have made clear that their aim is to secure independence from the nearly 80 years of Saudi occupation.
When they launched their war on Yemen on March 26, the Najdi Bedouins thought it would be a matter of a few days before the outgunned Ansarullah and Yemeni forces surrender and accept all of their demands. Their puppet, the fugitive former president, ‘Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi would be re-installed in the presidential palace in Sana‘a and Yemen would revert to its former status as a Saudi vassal. Nothing of the sort has happened.
If killing a lot of civilians could lead to military victory, the US would have been successful in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite killing more than 4,000 people, according to Yemeni sources (the UN has confirmed 2,600 civilian deaths), the Najdi Bedouins are nowhere near their stated objectives.
It is not difficult to explain why. Compared to the US — the most destructive military power in the world — the Najdi Bedouins, who have illegally occupied the Arabian Peninsula, are pygmies. Much worse: they (Najdi Bedouins) are so incompetent that they do not even know how to boil an egg. For that they have to rely on expatriate workers — Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, etc. If they cannot perform simple tasks, how can they be expected to manage something as complex as military operations against a people who have a long history of struggle and resistance, notwithstanding the Bedouins’ loud rhetoric about imaginary victories?
Military operations are carried out to achieve specific political objectives. While the Yemenis do not possess the sophisticated weapons that the Najdi Bedouins have, thanks to billions of dollars in annual purchases from the US, Britain and France, it is not the gun but the man behind it that determines the outcome of any struggle. This is what is now being witnessed in Yemen again.
Far from subduing the Yemenis, the latter have struck back at the Bedouins’ military bases in the south. This also stands in contrast with the Najdis’ attacks on Yemen where civilians are targeted. People’s homes have been destroyed as have hospitals and schools, in the manner of the Zionists’ attacks on hapless Palestinians. Despite the Najdi Bedouins’ barbarism, the Yemenis have not been subdued or cowed down. They have launched counterattacks that are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
One of the most devastating attacks occurred on June 12 when the Ansarullah fighters and allied Yemeni army units fired a scud missile and several Najm al-Saqeb missiles at the Amir Khalid Airbase in southern Arabia. According to Ansarullah spokesman who spoke to Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) on June 17, at least 20 Israeli officers and 63 “Saudi” military personnel were killed. Among the dead was the Bedouins’ Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad bin Ahmed al-Shaalan. He was not only the highest ranking Saudi military officer to be killed but it is also a fitting response to the barbaric attacks carried out by their air force planes against civilians. Shaalan’s death was also confirmed by Colonel Salih Muhammad of the Yemeni army.
“The Ansarullah fighters backed by the Yemeni army hit Amir Khalid Airbase in Khamees al-Mushait region in Southern Saudi Arabia with a scud missile and several Najm al-Saqeb missiles [on June 12], killing over 20 senior Israeli officers and 63 Saudi military men and capturing 35 others,” Ansarullah spokesman Mehdi Nasser al-Bashi told FNA on June 17. The Ansarullah spokesman also mentioned that the Israeli officers were agents of the Mossad spy agency and were in the region to help the Najdi Bedouins’ army. He went on, “At the time of the attack the Israeli officers were working on a plan to attack some regions of Yemen with prohibited Israeli-made weapons.” There have been reports that the Zionists have used depleted uranium shells against the Yemenis in support of their Bedouin allies. While not surprising, the Najdi Bedouins’ close alliance with the Zionists is now coming out into the open.
Following the Yemeni army/Ansar-ullah scud missile attack on Amir Khalid military base, the Najdi Bedouins claimed they had intercepted the Scud by two Patriot missiles. This claim was refuted by the Beirut-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel when it showed footage of the missile attack hitting the target. As often happens following such attacks, the Najdi Bedouins not only evacuated the airbase with many soldiers fleeing in disarray, but two nearby airport passenger terminals were also evacuated, fearing that they might also come under attack.
“The attack against Khalid Airbase was waged by missiles and weapons systems that were not very special; the operation was planned by Ansarullah and the Yemeni army conducted it after Ansarullah provided it with the information about Muhammed Shaalan’s presence at Khalid Airbase in Khamees al-Mushait,” al-Bashi revealed. This shows the depth of Ansarullah’s reach inside the Arabian Peninsula. Ordinarily, the presence of the highest ranking air force officer at a front line military base would be a tightly guarded secret, especially in view of the fact that Saudi air force has been involved in devastating attacks on Yemen.
That Ansarullah could get such information means it has reliable sources inside the “Saudi” military. This must be deeply troubling for the Najdi Bedouins. Interestingly, the Saudi Press Agency quoting the Defence Ministry admitted the death of Shaalan but said he had died of a heart attack while on a visit abroad. The news agency did not reveal what country he was visiting and how a supposedly healthy air force commander could suddenly drop dead of a heart attack. Sources inside “Saudi” Arabia have said that Shaalan’s body was charred black, clearly the result of a missile attack, not that of a heart attack!
While the Yemeni army does not possess many sophisticated weapons — Yemen’s defence budget was $1.44 billion in 2014 compared to the Saudis’ $89 billion — that has not proved a handicap for the brave Yemeni soldiers. The only area where the Yemenis are vulnerable is in air defence systems. They have none. The Najdi Bedouins have made loud claims that they have destroyed all of Yemen’s scud missiles. If so, where did the latest batch of scuds come from that not only caused massive damage to the Amir Khalid Airbase but also took out the “Saudi” air force chief and scores of other military personnel?
In fact, the only sophisticated weaponry that the Yemenis possess comes courtesy of “Saudi” Arabia. In every operation the Ansarullah have launched, whether in the southern Najran province or in Khamees al-Mushait, the Najdi Bedouins have fled in fear. Often, a huge amount of sophisticated equipment is also captured by the Yemenis as happened at Amir Khalid Airbase. Colonel Mohammad of the Yemeni army revealed that their forces have come in possession of advanced US-made weapons systems after capturing the Saudi airbase.
If the increasingly sophisticated attacks on Saudi military bases by Ansarullah/Yemeni army units is cause for concern for the Bedouins, there is another development that must be causing nightmares in Riyadh. A coalition of regional tribes from the southwest border region of the Kingdom has announced the formation of Ahrar al-Najran Movement with the specific aim of liberating their territory from Najdi control and occupation. It needs recalling that Najran and the adjoining areas, which that today constitute “Saudi” Arabia, were illegally occupied by the Najdi Bedouins in 1934. At that time, they were backed by the British. Two years earlier, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Saud had declared himself king of the whole of the “Kingdom of ‘Saudi’ Arabia.” British guns and advisors made his Bedouin tribal fighters a formidable force.
In the more than 80 years since their takeover of the Arabian Peninsula and becoming fat off the ill-gotten wealth as well as extremely lazy, the Najdi Bedouins are no longer able to put up a fight. There is considerable discontent inside the Kingdom against oppression, waste, and incompetence. There are more than 40,000 political prisoners whose only fault is to ask for basic rights and political reforms. The Bedouins are clearly heading for trouble.
Their ill-conceived war on Yemen has only exacerbated their problems. The hope that the war would bring swift victory lies shattered on the rocks of Yemen. Saudi Defence (Offence) Minister Muhammad bin Salman, son of King Salman, who is suffering from dementia, thought it would be a cakewalk. War is not a drive in a Ferrari down a highway. “Prince” Muhammad is not only young but also quite immature even for his youthful 29–30 years. At home he may be able to order people around because he is the king’s son but that is no qualification for waging a war, especially against a people who are born fighters. There are also reports of discontent within the ruling family. While such information has not come out in the open, there a number of very unhappy “royals.” Prince Muqrin was unceremoniously dismissed as Crown Prince in April — the first in “Saudi” history. Former king Abdullah’s sons have been sidelined including Mutaib who as head of National Guard was demoted from his ministerial rank. Ironically, the Saudi army has not been able to defend the southern border with Yemen so the National Guard has been called to assist! Discontent in the inner circles will also have its own repercussions.
The fact that the three-month-long war has spawned the Ahrar al-Najran Movement is perhaps the most ominous development in the tortuous history of Bedouin-occupied Arabia Peninsula.
According to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), “[The] Ahrar al-Najran Movement [is] calling for independence from Saudi Arabia… Abu Bakr Abi Ahmed al-Salami, a leader of Ahrar al-Najran, says the movement, which brings together different tribal groups, is set to launch its first battle in parts of south Najran occupied by the Saudi army… There are four main reasons why the movement wants to declare independence from Saudi Arabia:
1. General dissatisfaction in Saudi Arabia with the way officials in Riyadh handle day-to-day administration of affairs;
2. Riyadh’s policy to keep the south impoverished;
3. Aggression against Yemen and the massacre of defenseless people there by the Saudi regime;
4. Failure of the Saudi government to view the residents of the south as first-class citizens, thus violation [sic] of their legitimate rights.”
The people of Najran, like those in the Eastern Province of Qatif, have suffered decades of discrimination at the hands of the Najdi Bedouins. Both remain mired in poverty. The Eastern Province produces much of the country’s oil and therefore, wealth, yet they have been deliberately deprived of their fair share. While their discontent has remained confined to peaceful protests, the recent escalation of attacks against them — Wahhabi-inspired takfiri terrorists setting off bombs in Shi‘i masjids and killing scores of innocent worshippers — may trigger a more bold approach against the Najdi Bedouins (on June 26, there was a similar attack on Imam Sadiq Masjid in Kuwait in which scores of Shi‘i worshippers were killed during Friday prayers).
The Najdi Bedouins’ war on Yemen, while inflicting great suffering on the impoverished people of Yemen, may yet lead to the demise of the Saudi regime. Few would shed tears for its departure. In fact, it would be widely welcomed. These marauders from the dark crevices of Najd have caused havoc in the Muslim world particularly with their barbaric practices borne of demented ideas. The sooner they are consigned to the dustbin of history, the better it would be for the Muslim Ummah and indeed the world at large.