by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 7, Muharram, 1441)
The Saudi rulers must be getting a creepy feeling that the war they launched in Yemen more than four years ago is beginning to hit them much closer to home. On August 26, Yemeni drones attacked military targets in the Saudi capital Riyadh causing great panic.
Yemen’s resistance army and its allied fighters from Popular Committees launched a squadron of domestically-manufactured Íammad-3 (In-vincible-3) combat drones to strike an “important military target” in Riyadh. The drones targeted hangars of Saudi warplanes and Apache attack helicopters as well as other military sites at the airport, according to reports by the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network.
Brigadier General YahyaSari‘, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces said that the drones struck their designated targets with great precision. He emphasized that the strikes were in response to continued Saudi-led alliance’s crimes and aggression against Yemen, and its ongoing blockade of the poorest country in the Arab world.
There was no immediate response from the Saudi criminals about these latest strikes, perhaps greatly embarrassed that they are now being struck in the very heart of the Kingdom. The pleasure-loving Saudis must be terrified.
The Saudi-led war has caused more than 60,000 civilian deaths, a million children suffering from cholera, and the starvation of nearly the entire Yemeni population of 24 million. Virtually the entire infrastructure of Yemen has also been destroyed. These constitute crimes against humanity.
Despite such horrendous suffering inflicted on them, the Yemeni resistance has not given up. Instead, it has intensified its efforts and is fighting back with courage and determination. Reflecting the new tempo in resistance to Saudi-led aggression, only a day earlier (August 25), Yemeni resistance forces and their allies had launched a barrage of Badr-1 short-range missiles at strategic sites inside Jizan Regional Airport (aka King ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Airport). This airport has been targeted a number of times already causing great panic among the ill-motivated and incompetent Saudi forces. They would rather be drinking qahwah or tea prepared for them by their Indian or Pakistani servants.
Saudi soldiers find themselves in a bind. While their bone lazy compatriots enjoy themselves in air-conditioned malls in Riyadh and Jeddah or attend concerts at which Western singers perform, they are stuck in an unwinnable war that Muhammad bin Salman launched four years ago. It was supposed to make him a hero. The war was launched on the assumption that it would be over in a matter of weeks and Bin Salman would be hailed as a hero. Instead, the Yemenis have proved tough fighters and ground Bin Salman’s grandiose ambitions into the dust.
The August 25 retaliatory strikes were launched shortly after Yemen’s resistance forces mounted an offensive against the positions of Saudi forces and Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen’s former president ‘Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the Kingdom’s southwestern region of Najran. Sari‘ said Yemeni and allied resistance fighters launched a newly-developed Nakal (Retribution) missile at the strongholds of Saudi troops and their mercenaries in al-Sadis area of the region, leaving dozens of them dead or injured, al-Masirah television reported. Targets in al-Asir province have also come under attack from Yemeni resistance forces.
There are unmistakable signs that Saudi-backed militias in Yemen see the writing on the wall and realize the war is lost. This is reflected in the defections that are taking place from their ranks. On August 23, it was reported that Lieutenant Colonel Maqbul ‘Ali Ghanim Qahtan, commander of artillery in the 156th Brigade in Jawf Province, had joined the Yemeni armed forces. His soldiers joined him and they all surrendered their weapons to Ansarallah fighters, pledging to join the resistance to defend Yemen from the invaders. Not long ago, 2,000 mercenaries from the pro-Hadi forces had fled, abandoning their posts, according to Brigadier General Sari‘.
When defections in the ranks of fighters begin, they have a demoralizing effect on other soldiers. This is what is happening to Saudi-backed militias that have also started to fight among themselves.
In the southern port city of Aden that has been under the control of Saudi-led forces, fighting erupted between pro-UAE and pro-Hadi forces. While the UAE has withdrawn the bulk of its forces from Yemen realizing the futility of the war and knowing full well it cannot be won, they have continued to support a breakaway faction calling itself the Southern Transitional Council (STC). Headquartered in the Atiq district of southern Shabwah Province, pro-Hadi militants were reported to have taken control of the UAE-sponsored STC, according to a report by al-Jazeera TV network last month.
The STC struck back soon thereafter. On August 20, STC militias seized two military camps near Zinjibar, capital of Yemen’s southern province of Abyan. Militants loyal to Yemen’s fugitive ex-president Hadi controlled the two camps before they were overrun by the STC. Muhammad Salim, a commander of the pro-Hadi forces in Abyan, was killed during clashes with the STC, according to reports from the area.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are supposedly allies in the war on Yemen but militias loyal to them regularly get into fights reflecting disarray in their ranks. The STC appears determined to break away from the rest of Yemen recreating the Southern Yemen Republic as it was before the two parts merged in 1990.
It was this fear of break-up that prompted the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffith to warn the Security Council on August 20 that war-ravaged Yemen faced the threat of breaking apart. He said that unless an agreement ending the persisting conflict was found immediately, “the fragmentation of Yemen is becoming a stronger and more pressing threat.” He added, “The stakes are becoming too high for the future of Yemen, the Yemeni people, and the wider region. Yemen cannot wait.”
The disparate militias in Yemen are essentially mercenaries paid for by Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Until the latter’s forces were present in Yemen, their southern puppets were kept in check through large handouts. They were corralled into fighting the Yemeni resistance forces. With the bulk of UAE forces withdrawn from Yemen, the various militias have turned their guns on each other.
Far from installing the fugitive ex-president Hadi back in power, the Saudi-led coalition has brought Yemen to the brink of disintegration. Its repercussions will be felt in Saudi Arabia as well. The Ansarallah fighters have vowed that they intend to reclaim the southern part of Saudi Arabia that was illegally occupied by Saudi forces in 1934. The provinces of Jizan and al-Asir are Yemeni territory that they want back.
The way the war is progressing, that cannot be ruled out. That may also put paid to the oppressive rule of Bani Saud. They have caused havoc not only in the Kingdom but also in the rest of the Muslim world and even beyond.