What is happening on the Yemeni front, being part of the global Saudi-Iranian, and more broadly of the Arabian-Iranian confrontation, which can also be called Sunni-Shiite, will ultimately determine whether the widely announced Arab Coalition will become a reality of the Middle East.
Activation of Turkey in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan after the attacks of the Turkish Air Force on the positions of the PKK detachments and the response of the Kurds, organized by Ankara with the support of Doha and Riyadh, the outcome of refugees (not only Syrian) to Europe, the supply of Russian humanitarian aid, weapons and military equipment Syria and a campaign of pressure and disinformation launched by Washington against Russia in the European Union in this regard, not to mention Turkey’s clearing the “buffer zone” in Syria in the border area, the parameters of which are the United States and Turkey, despite significant disagreements, finally agreed, pushed into the background the war in Yemen. Meanwhile, the events on the “southern front” of Saudi Arabia were very significant not only for this country.
In response to the losses incurred in Yemen in clashes with the Khousit troops by contingents of the Arabian monarchies that formed the core of the expeditionary force, the states that declared themselves to be allies of Saudi Arabia at the moment, first of all Egypt, sent their troops there. The result is still more than unclear.
It is only clear that, as predicted by the experts of the Institute of the Middle East, on the materials of which, primarily P. P. Ryabov, the author relies in this article, the “victories” of the anti-Houssite coalition in Yemen turned out to be Pyrrhic. Her attack on Sana on the move failed to hold. Calculation on the South Yemeni tribes and militias Taiz failed - including because of internal strife. However, the coalition forces cannot abandon the campaign against the capital of the country, primarily because of the position of Saudi Arabia playing a key role in it. States parties are forced to increase the number of their forces in Yemen, although they understand what it threatens.
Among other things, this led to a significant weakening of their support for the Islamists who are fighting in Syria against the Assad army, activating Turkey and the Turkomans supported by it, as well as a truce of the (undoubtedly temporary) hostile groups of pro-Muslim Muslim Brotherhood and with the pro-Saudi “Jabhat al-Nusroy” (and al-Qaeda as a whole, which announced this clearly under the pressure of Riyadh). Consider what is happening in Yemen in the dynamics of the situation. Information about this in the domestic media is missing or distorted, incomplete.
Division in Tangier
The current stage of development of events began on August 20, when a meeting of the main participants of the Arabian coalition took place in Moroccan Tangier to determine the future of Yemen. This event is not accidentally dubbed the "Arabian Yalta": in Tangier met the Minister of Defense KSA, the main heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Commander-in-Chief of the UAE armed forces Mohammed bin Zayed. The outcome of the meeting, which was recognized by the parties as productive, was the definition of areas of influence of the two countries in Yemen over the medium term.
According to the scheme developed by them, North Yemen should remain behind Saudi Arabia, East - behind the United Arab Emirates, and the center of the country (including the province of Marib), where the main facilities and oil production infrastructure are concentrated, will be after the victory over the Housits, in which the parties are confident management. Mohammed bin Zayed was accompanied on a trip to Morocco by his brother and Haza bin Zayed’s security adviser, as well as UAE Interior Minister Mansur bin Zayed.
The parties agreed that the war should be fought to a victorious end, that is, until the complete surrender of the Housits and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This condition is considered essential for the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations in Geneva. Mohammed bin Salman informed the partners about the upcoming military operations in the country. According to him, the necessary preparations for taking control of Taiz were already completed and the offensive was planned to begin in the very near future. The capture of Taiz was entrusted to the forces of the "Yemeni Army", prepared at bases in the southern provinces of Saudi Arabia.
However, these tactical maneuver plans thwarted the Khousits, who, through Ib, with a dagger strike came to Taiz and took him under control. After the capture of Taiz, the coalition forces were to go to the capital of the country and begin a siege. It was planned that the joint forces of the Saudis and the Emirates with the participation of the "Yemeni army" would take part in the operation. However, in reality, Marib came to the fore as a springboard for the development of an attack on the capital. At the same time, the Saudi military contingent, which was charged with supporting the advance of the coalition troops by the offensive in Saad, was stuck. Close the ring around Sana failed.
The UAE forces were to lead the operation in the provinces of Mahrah and Hadramaut, which is controlled by tribal militia with al Qaeda positions on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). To this end, cooperation was established between UAE Defense Minister Hamid Mohammed al-Rumaihi and his deputy Issa Seif al-Mazraoui, on the one hand, and Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed al-Maqdisi, and the governor of Hadramawt, A. al-Khalili, on the other.
At the same time, the UAE leadership initiated negotiations with the leaders of the Hashed tribal group in the person of the Ahmar brothers. This is logical in view of the bad relations between Riyadh and the Ahmar brothers due to their flirting with Qatar during the “Yemeni Revolution” to overthrow A.A. Saleh and the impossibility of an offensive from Marib and carrying out any successful military campaign against the Housits in the north countries without the participation of Hashed. So far, apparently, the diplomatic efforts of the Emirates have not brought results, since the Islamists from Marib do not take active offensive actions, preferring to accumulate forces and means, including through the supply of heavy equipment from KSA.
Sewage is delayed
We state that the ultimate goal of the Arabian coalition, as the meeting in Tangier showed, is the colonization of Yemen, due to which the Gulf monarchies plan to solve several problems. For Saudi Arabia, this is the point on the issue of disputed territories with Yemen, the full leveling of Iranian influence in the north of the country by maximally weakening the combat potential of the Housits, and in the medium term, the formation of a logistics and oil pipeline corridor from Saudi Arabia through Hadramaut. The announcement of the construction of a canal across the territory of Saudi Arabia and Yemen (on the border with Oman), designed to replace the Strait of Hormuz, which nullifies the threat of Iran’s blocking of the route, confirms the latter. The UAE is considering the possibility of privatizing the port and petrochemical infrastructure of southern Yemen.
It is doubtful that these plans will be implemented. The traditional negative attitude of Yemenis to Saudi domination, strong separatist sentiments in southern Yemen and the lack of leverage beyond the financial capabilities of KSA and the United Arab Emirates due to the fall of the oil market hinder the way. Their combat potential leaves much to be desired. Saudi troops with the appearance of the Khousitov, as a rule, flee from positions, throwing technique. The advance of Saudi troops into the depths of the mountainous regions in Saad is fraught with heavy losses. As for the troops of the UAE, they avoided direct clashes after losing two soldiers in the battles near Aden.
The north of Yemen is mainly mountains, which reduces the effect of the benefits coming in aviation and heavy equipment. The defense of the Howsites in these areas is much stronger than in the south. The fluctuations of the Khashed tribal groups and the Akhmar brothers’ reluctance to fight for the “Gulfs”, as well as the apparent ignorance by the South Germans of the offensive to the north complicate the plans of the Arabian coalition. Do not discount the nationalism of the Yemenis, who are extremely negative about rich neighbors. The dynamics of the fighting showed that the coalition was faced with unforeseen circumstances. She has lost the pace of the offensive and is looking for allies in the north to advance to the capital.
It is clear that while one of the parties to the conflict will not tolerate a military defeat, progress in the negotiations on the Yemeni settlement in Geneva, which are organized on the initiative and with the mediation of the UN, is unlikely. Preparing for an offensive on Sana'a, the troops of the Arabian monarchies received an unexpected blow, losing military personnel near 130 as a result of a rocket attack on a military base in the province of Marib. The data on the national identity of the dead varies due to the closeness of statistics, but it is obvious that the UAE’s military contingent suffered the greatest losses — over 60 people.
American sources claim that 63 military from the UAE, 33 from Bahrain, and 40 from KSA were killed in the shelling. These numbers will grow due to the critical state of many wounded, whose number is estimated by experts at about 200 people. As a result of the rocket attack, three Apache attack helicopters were destroyed, over 40 units of armored vehicles and trucks, volley fire systems and artillery. That is, the Housits attacked the coalition troops with a preemptive strike, using the Achilles' heel of the Gulf monarchies - sensitivity to human casualties.
Three days earlier, in the province of Jouf, as a result of the shelling of one of the military training camps in Grads, where fighters of the local Islamist militia were training, seven more Emirates were killed. The number of killed local militias was not indicated, but according to eyewitnesses, it was about 30 people. Most likely there are more dead, because as a result of the shelling, the ammunition depot was detonated. So while the main victims in the ranks of the coalition of the Arabian monarchies are the Emirates, the number of people killed among whom, since their landing in Aden, has exceeded 80 people.
In addition to them, five Bahraini military killed in a battle, which participated in a joint operation with the Saudis to guard the border with the Yemeni province of Saad. And they were killed in the border area KSA - Housits hit the convoy from the ambush. As for Saudi Arabia, it hides its losses. Taking into account the Khousitov raids into the border areas of KSA and the rocket attacks of the positions of the Saudi military in the kingdom, the number of dead and wounded Saudis may exceed the number of victims from the UAE. In particular, many Saudis were killed in the shelling of KSA air forces in August. Several dozen people were killed, including representatives of the High Command, several airplanes and helicopters were destroyed. Another helicopter shot down by an Arrow missile in the mountains of Yemen.
Recent losses have caused shock and control collapse among the attackers. The attack on the base in Marib was inflicted from the Russian Tochka-U complex. A missile is guided by a laser beam and requires serious training of personnel. The accuracy of the hit is explained by the participation of Iranian instructors in servicing this familiar equipment, since the Yemenis have no such operators.
What will please Iran
Thus, the scenario of moving the coalition to the north, which is pessimistic for Riyadh and its allies, justifies itself. Initially, her command made a leak in the media that the capture of the capital, Sana, was a matter of three or four days. However, as mentioned above, after the flanking raids of the Khousits on Taiz and the capture of this city, this direction of the main attack disappeared. Including due to political reasons. The liberation of Taiz was opposed by the Southmen, who have difficult relations with the population of this province. As a result, the Taizians remained left to their own devices, blocked in several districts of the city and incapable of active operations. Moreover, this position was divided not only by the United Arab Emirates, which have their own plans for economic consolidation in the south of Yemen, but also by the United States.
That is why Marib was ultimately chosen as a springboard for the attack on Sana'a, where the Islamists of the Islam party are concentrated, which made it possible to transfer equipment and ammunition from the KSA by land. Howsit attacks on coalition positions delayed the assault on the capital. In addition to losses in manpower and equipment, one must take into account the morale of the attackers, taking into account the fact that the supporters of “Islam” do not want to step on Sana'a and sabotage this process. And western origin tanks and coalition armored personnel carriers means that they can only be served by soldiers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Due to losses, there was a need to reform the personnel and transfer new heavy equipment. Moreover, all this is under the fire of the Howsites, who have kept a significant number of tactical and operational-tactical missiles in underground shelters, despite the assurances of Riyadh about their destruction.
Part of the solution to the problem was the transfer to Yemen of 800 of the Egyptian military with heavy equipment. They went there from KSA through Wadah and housed in one of the military camps in the province of Marib. A day earlier, thousands of Qataris and contingents from Morocco and Sudan were reported. Khartoum said it was ready to provide six thousand fighters. As a result, the total number of coalition forces should reach ten thousand people. Not all of them will be stationed in Marib: some will close the Saudi border in the Djizan area and will garrison in Aden, which is to be cleared. There is a huge amount of unexploded ordnance, as well as mine traps, which were left by the Khousits. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is experiencing serious problems with qualified demining units and is exploring the possibility of attracting private Western firms to mine clearance.
The Saudi “Apache” helicopters, which have already been deployed to Marib, are planned to be used as a strike force to support the attackers from the air. True, half of them were destroyed or seriously damaged during the aforementioned shelling from the "Point-U" base in the province. In this regard, the question arose about the repair teams, which are not in the coalition contingent. The problem of logistic support for the offensive is on the agenda quite acutely: not only is there not enough repairmen and sappers, but also power engineers and physicians. Riyadh is trying to resolve these issues in order to launch an attack on Sanah.
Marib becomes the main focus and main focus of hostilities. In the south of Yemen, the situation has stabilized, there has been a lull. In Taiz fights are positional in nature. The militia is blocked by the forces of ex-president A.A. Salekh in city blocks and does not conduct offensive actions. If at the beginning of the crisis the coalition landed ammunition and fuel, today its allies are left to the mercy of fate. It is assumed that Yemenis, who were trained in Saudi and Emirates training camps, will be the main striking force in the attack on Sana'a - poorly trained mercenaries. The coalition forces will go the second echelon, carrying out support by artillery, armored vehicles and aircraft, trying to minimize losses in their own ranks.
The Egyptians came to Yemen compulsorily. At the first stage, they refused to participate in the ground operation. But the purchase of French “Mistral” for loans to the UAE and the program of re-equipment of the Arabian ARE with Saudi money forces Cairo to take part in the war. Zeal on the fronts of the Egyptian military will not differ. They work out an advance - no more.
The battle coordination of coalition forces remains a problem. Saudis demonstrated his absence in their own army during clashes with the Housits on the Yemeni border. In a coalition, as such, it simply does not exist. Its parts are not shelled. As for their experience, the Egyptians are waging a war with the Islamists in Sinai ineffectively. The Sudanese army in Darfur, where it tried to extinguish the insurgency, showed problems with command and lack of discipline. And its war with South Sudan makes one doubt the ability to fight according to the standards accepted in the modern world.
The units of the Arabian monarchies are not accustomed to front-line life and require comfort. The refusal of Taiz, who is more profitable from a logistical point of view, for which he is called the “gateway to the South”, in favor of the Mariba direction is fraught with movement of troops along narrow winding mountain roads with minimal use of heavy equipment and artillery. We take into account at the same time that the coalition forces do not know how to fight in the mountains and there is no time to teach them. Thus, war can be very costly, especially for Saudi Arabia.
Since the attack on Sana'a will be the first real baptism for Pan-Arab forces under the auspices of the League of Arab States, the idea of which Riyadh has been unsuccessfully lobbying for, the idea is likely to remain in case of failure or transition to the long-playing stage. What clearly will please Iran, given its own success in confronting Sunni radicals in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.