Seven Years of Saudi War Crimes—and Defeats—in Yemen

Developing Just Leadership

Kevin Barrett

Rajab 28, 1443 2022-03-01

Main Stories

by Kevin Barrett (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 1, Rajab, 1443)

This March 26 marks the seventh anniversary of the Saudi invasion of Yemen, which commenced in 2015 at the orders of then-29-year-old Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The “Clown Prince,” as he is sometimes called, had no military experience whatsoever, and no qualifications for the job of Defense Minister aside from his dubious pedigree as the scion of a notorious family of bandits.

Nonetheless this ignorant, reckless, supremely unqualified individual managed to insinuate himself into the Saudi military establishment, where he emerged as the leader of those pushing for war in Yemen. Bin Salman and his sycophants insisted that they would score a quick and decisive victory. But disillusionment soon set in. Even Western sources were calling the Saudi campaign a quagmire as early as 2015.

Now, seven years later, the death toll is approaching 400,000, the vast majority civilians. The United Nations asserts that 225,000 Yemeni children under five have died due to starvation and preventable diseases. Most of those deaths can be attributed to one man: Mohammad bin Salman.

Four years ago (2018), the British Guardian accused MbS of war crimes, saying he “persisted in waging war using methods that had the predictable effect of depriving millions of people of food, clean water, medicine, and other basic necessities... (MbS’s) actions amount to the use of starvation as a method of warfare which is prohibited by the Geneva conventions, the Rome statute of the international criminal court, and UN security council resolution 2417.”

MbS has resorted to mass murdering the civilian population of Yemen because he has had no success against Ansarullah forces and their allies. The Saudi debacle is astounding in light of their lavish military spending, which at nearly $60 billion per year is roughly tied for fourth place globally after the US, China, and India.

Additionally, the Saudis have garnered at least nominal support from “coalition” partners including the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, alongside lavish military aid from the US and UK. How can such a massively-funded-and-armed “coalition” possibly be losing a war against an adversary that is so much weaker on paper?

The answer, of course, is that wars on not fought on paper. They are fought by human beings. And those human beings who know they are fighting in the path of God in self-defense with justice on their side are capable of defeating much larger, better-armed foes. The Ansarullah forces and their allies have exceeded expectations almost as wildly as the Saudis have fallen short, scoring victory after victory while displaying amazing stamina, courage, and creativity.

Ansurullah’s David-versus-Goliath victories recall the battles fought by the early Muslims against the Quraysh oligarchs. In successive battles the Muslims of Madinah found themselves at serious disadvantage in terms of numbers and armaments. But they were fighting to defend their community and knew they had God on their side, while the Makkan oligarchs—the spiritual ancestors of the House of Saud—were only defending one thing: their unjust economic privileges and the system of kufr upon which those privileges were based. Fat, spoiled, unjustly-privileged nincompoops generally do not make good warriors. (The Americans and Israelis, too, are in line to learn that lesson.)

Some of my readers may accuse me of spinning the facts on the ground against the Saudis and in favor of the Yemenis. So, allow me to quote from the opening of a February 2022 Brookings Institution paper:

“The Houthis have won the war in Yemen defeating their opponents in the civil war, the Saudis who intervened in 2015 against them, and the United States which backed the Saudis. It is a remarkable accomplishment for a militia group with no air force or navy. It is also strikingly like Hezbollah’s success story in Lebanon.”

The Brookings Institution cannot be accused of sympathizing with the Axis of Resistance. Nonetheless the Brookings authors, unlike MbS, are willing to face hard facts. And the facts show that the Saudi war on Yemen has been morally abominable, judicially criminal, and strategically suicidal.

The entire so-called Saudi “coalition” is really just a gang of mercenaries, none of whom deeply believe in the cause they are fighting for. Even the handful of Saudi nationals involved in the war are afraid to get too close to any actual fighting. Saudi bomber pilots, who couldn’t keep their planes in the air without massive assistance from the US, insist on flying at extremely high altitudes to minimize their chances of being shot down. That means their inaccurate bombs fall mainly on civilian populations while doing little damage to Yemeni military forces.

The tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries the Saudis have shipped in from Columbia and other Latin American narco-states, as well as impoverished “coalition partners” like Sudan, are even less committed to the cause. The mercenaries’ goal is to survive to collect a paycheck, not to win. No wonder Ansarullah has repeatedly routed much larger and better armed enemies.

As I write this on February 20, Ansarullah appears to be reasserting control of Harad, a strategic city just a few kilometers from the Saudi border. The Saudis put enormous resources into bombarding and capturing part of Harad in a showpiece offensive whose apparent purpose was to generate a PR announcement: “Hey, we actually won something for a change!” But the “victory” was partial and short-lived as Ansarullah quickly re-established control, once again underlining the ineptitude of a Saudi military behemoth that cannot accomplish anything even close to its own border.

Meanwhile Ansarullah continues to showcase its increasing ability to take the war to the territory of its enemies. On January 17, Abu Dhabi and Dubai were simultaneously hit by an array of Ansarullah’s missiles and drones, sparking an oil refinery inferno and demonstrating that UAE leaders cannot continue to massacre Yemeni civilians with impunity. Then on January 31 Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Abu Dhabi was disrupted by a Yemeni missile strike—a symbolic reminder that the Saudi-UAE “coalition” has become the junior partner of the Zionists, while Ansarullah is aligned with the overwhelming majority of the people of the region who loathe Zionism and despise their Zionist-boot-licking rulers.

Speaking of that so-called “coalition,” the two key financiers of the genocide of Yemen, the Saudis and Emiratis, have been increasingly at each other’s throats. The southern region of Shawbah has witnessed fierce fighting between the Saudi proxy militia Islah and the UAE-backed separatists. It seems that when greedy oligarchs band together to prosecute an unjust war, they and their rival bands of mercenaries, lacking a just cause to unite around, will ultimately turn on each other.

The Saudi fiasco in Yemen raises two questions: Will the Gulf despots and their international oligarch accomplices keep digging themselves into an ever-deeper hole? And will that hole become their grave?

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