Classical military science warns against waging war on two fronts. But this is exactly what Saudi Arabia (KSA) is currently engaged in - one of the key countries in the Middle East region.
Its troops are the main military force of the “Arabian Coalition” fighting in Yemen against the Housits of the north of this country. As for Syria, the kingdom is fighting there “by proxy,” by hands-controlled militants from radical Islamist structures close to al-Qaeda (in the ranks of which, however, there are Saudi retirees), allied with the factions controlled by Qatar and Turkey. At the same time, the prokatarskoe Islamic State, which is banned in Russia and which, despite all the refutations of Ankara, maintains close ties with the Turkish leadership, has its own aggressive plans for KSA.
The limited military resources of Riyadh, whose armed forces are equipped with modern weapons and military equipment systems, but are not able to master most of the equipment in their hands, forces the Saudis to go on to create coalitions over and over again. Pan-Arab forces, the Arabian Coalition and, finally, the declared Islamic Coalition are seen by political scientists and journalists as something like NATO (for all the shakiness of today's North Atlantic alliance and its inability to perform effective combat operations). Meanwhile, they are not a real military force and are unlikely to become. This is the basis of the KSA rapprochement with the leadership of such countries as Turkey and Pakistan, including through people with a dubious reputation. Consider these processes, based on the materials of experts IBA V. A. Vasiliev, P. P. Ryabov and Yu. B. Shcheglovina.
Barricades on the road to peace
The Saudi military said they managed to shoot down a “ballistic missile” (SA-2 or SCAD), which was aimed at the air force base in the kingdom. It was with this type of missile that Yemeni Zaidites bombarded the same base in Najran in the summer. Then several airplanes and helicopters of the Royal Air Force were destroyed, and high-ranking Saudi generals, including the KSA Air Force commander, died. There was a serious trial with suppliers of missile defense systems from Lockheed Corporation (USA). After the threats of Riyadh to break all existing contracts with this company, the previously equipped systems and ABM posts in the province of Najran were modernized. But the interception of Katyusha-type missiles has not yet been achieved. In this case, the Americans accuse the Saudi military of poor qualifications in the maintenance of missile defense, although the supplier guarantees the interception of only 80 percent of the missiles produced on the target.
The aforementioned attack on the Saudi Air Force base seems illogical, since it occurred at the height of the Riyadh-controlled peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Zeidites in Geneva. Recall, however, how on the eve of these consultations, the Khousits (more precisely, the military loyal to the former President A.A. Saleh) attacked the Tochka-U missile at the camp of the Saudi-led coalition near Taiz. Losses amounted to more than 100 people, including 83 mercenary from Blackwaters, several dozen Saudi, Bahraini and Emirates military. In the same period, the commander of the special forces of the Armed Forces KSA in Jizan, who was fired from an ambush, was killed. In response, the Royal Air Force bombed two Zadid targets at Saad and Sanaa for two consecutive days.
According to Saudi media, the Housits during the aforementioned bombings lost up to 200 middle and high level command officers. So an attempt to strike a rocket at the KSA airbase, from which military aircraft took off for bombardment, was a classic response from the Zeidites. This indirectly confirms that the Khousits of the Saudi airstrikes actually suffered serious losses. Moreover, the entire period preceding the truce and consultations in Geneva, the belligerents in Yemen tried to inflict maximum damage on each other and establish (or at least maintain) control over the main strategic zones of the country. For example, on December 21, troops loyal to President A. M. Hadi attempted to march on Sana from the Marib springboard.
The advancing forces were divided into three wedges, one of which aimed at Al-Hazm in the north of the country. The city was taken. The second group attacked the Naihem area, through which a direct route to Sana'a opens. Several strategic heights were captured 40 kilometers from the Yemeni capital. According to some reports, a number of villages in the suburbs of Sana'a came under the control of a local tribal militia awaiting the arrival of coalition troops. The third wedge was aimed at Khavyan, which, despite the bombing and shelling, so far failed to take. Aviation the coalition strikes at civilian targets in and around the city, trying to intimidate civilians supporting the Zeidites. In Sana'a, the Howsites are preparing for defense, setting up mine traps, barricades, bunkers in the basements of houses.
At the same time, detachments of the former Republican Guard, loyal to President Saleh, were not seen in the city. Experts believe that they were withdrawn from the capital in order to minimize damage from possible air strikes and are deployed closer to the Saudi border and south to Taiz, which Saleh vowed to defend to the last bullet. In order to delay the Housits from the capital's direction, the Saudis and Moroccans carried out two distracting offensive operations from a beachhead in Djizan, without too much delving into the interior of Yemen. And during the first of them - the attack on Harada - the commander of the special forces of the Armed Forces KSA died. The second strike was directed at the city of Al-Buka. In these outings, observers note the military interaction of the Saudis with local tribal groups from the Islah party.
In Marib and Taiz, the Khousits deterred coalition forces, using ambushes and firing at the enemy with Tochka-U missile systems. This had a serious deterrent effect. The loss of coalition forces turned out to be very significant, and attempts to disperse into small groups in mountainous areas, minimizing casualties, led to a loss of pace of the offensive and leveled the advantage of those advancing in heavy equipment. From this, the experts concluded that the Khousits maintained significant arsenals of heavy and missile weapons, despite the massive months of bombardment of their positions by coalition forces.
It is clear that Riyadh will continue to do everything possible to solve the Yemeni problem, despite the fact that it takes significant financial and organizational resources from the kingdom, precisely by military means. The compromise that the Geneva format of negotiations in the person of the UN mediators suggests to him implies the actual legalization of the Housits in the north of Yemen, in the "underbelly" of Saudi Arabia. This Riyadh does not suit, despite all possible written or other guarantees of non-aggression on Saudi territory from the Zeidites. At the same time, the UAE agrees on the actual division of Yemen along the north-south axis, since in this case they achieve their main task - the resumption of control of the Emirates over the country's ocean ports. The presence of the Housits in the north and their ties with Iran are not of concern to the UAE: Abu Dhabi prefers to negotiate with Tehran, rather than with the Muslim Brotherhood. And the alternative to the Housits in the north of Yemen are they represented by the Islah party.
Thus, we state a split in the ranks of the coalition on the question of further tactics and strategy in Yemen. That, however, does not cancel the imminent resumption of full-scale hostilities in this country, which are still going on in a sluggish regime, despite the officially declared truce with the exchange of prisoners. It is necessary for the warring parties as a technical respite and has no prerequisites for escalating into a long-term peace process, not to mention resolving the Yemeni crisis to the satisfaction of if not all, then at least the main conflicting parties.
Coalition in words
As for Syria, Saudi Arabia, according to American analysts, will increase participation in the conflict. In general, this is in the interests of the United States, which is trying to find a regional force to deploy a land operation. It was in this connection that Washington expressed support for the plans of Riyadh to create a Muslim coalition from 34 countries, which was announced by the Minister of Defense KSA and the son of King Mohammed bin Salman. The arguments of American analysts that such a coalition will legitimize the claims of the Arabian monarchies (KSA, Qatar) and Turkey for a special role in the intra Syrian conflict and legalize this activity in the eyes of Arab and Muslim countries suspecting Ankara of neo-Ottomanism, suffer a serious stretch. These are attempts to adjust the desired to the real.
“Iran, Iraq and Oman, negatively related to the war with Assad, were joined by Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan”
Will Riyadh and Ankara ultimately (Doha not yet display public activity) officially announce the creation of an Islamic coalition or not, and does it intend to send troops into Syrian territory (which requires the consent of the UN Security Council) or will it continue operations in the format of irregular formations? does not change anything. All countries that are opposed to the actions of the KSA and Turkey on the Syrian direction will remain with their. Moreover, Iran, Iraq and Oman, members of this group, were joined by Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, which, to the displeasure of Riyadh, refused to participate in the new coalition and emphasized the special position of Islamabad on the issue of maintaining the unity of Syria and preserving the regime in Damascus. As far as can be understood, this process will gain momentum.
Pakistan does not welcome the Saudi-Qatari alliance (even temporary) on Syria. In connection with the latest attempts of Qatar to shake the unity of the Taliban and create branches of the IG in the zone of national interests of Islamabad in Afghanistan, the Pakistani position is quite logical. As for the Americans, they understand perfectly well: the presence of Saudi and Emirate troops in Syrian territory will cause a sharply negative reaction in Tehran. This step may well provoke the entry of regular Iranian troops into Syria, which will lead to the actual division of the country and the transition of the conflict into a regional war.
The operation of the Russian VKS in Syria buried all the actions planned by Turkey and the United States in the area of the city of Azzaz. There, Ankara (while diligently ignoring the obvious facts of Washington) planned to enter the Turkish special forces in Syrian territory to protect the routes of oil supplies and logistics of supporters of the IG and pro-Saud groups. From this we understand the efforts of Erdogan to delegitimize the regime of President Assad and himself. Ankara has already decided for itself that the northern provinces of Syria are a zone of its inalienable interests. Would these territories be part of Turkey or, by analogy with Northern Cyprus, would remain formally independent, not so important.
The problem for the operation in Syria by the forces of the ground forces of the countries of the Islamic coalition is the confrontation between the Turkish security forces and the Syrian Kurdish units of the Party of the Democratic Union (PDS). This confrontation negates all efforts to organize an attack on the positions of the IG in Raqqah, and the direction of 50 of the American special forces to the Kurdish detachments did not correct the situation. The Kurds continue to remain for the US a priority support group, of course, their negative attitude towards the entry of any Arab forces into the areas they control the Pentagon. According to the leadership of the PDS, such a scenario will only strengthen the Arab-Kurdish confrontation, which has long roots. Moreover, inter-ethnic clashes are already underway in the city of Tal Abyad.
It remains an open question who will be the backbone of the Islamic coalition. Most often in this regard, the Jordanian and Egyptian troops are called as the most combat-ready. However, while Cairo only demonstrates intentions, as in Yemen. To get involved in a civil war on the territory of Syria, he does not crave, considering it a dangerous adventure. And he lacks the strength for this. The most combat-ready units are aimed at Sinai. The preservation of the international prestige of the Egyptian resorts of the Red Sea and the safety of the tourists visiting them outweigh the importance of the KSA plans in Yemen and Syria for the APE budget. Other parts cover the Libyan border, and some units are diverted to the Yemeni direction in exchange for Saudi loans and loans.
In addition, the military in Cairo clearly support President Assad in his struggle with the Islamists. It is noticeable that Egypt is trying to distance itself from a mediating role in organizing negotiations between Damascus and the “moderate part of the opposition”, despite requests from Riyadh and Washington. The question of the normalization of relations with Turkey, which openly supported the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and condemned the coup, as a result of which the army and the current president of the country Al-Sisi returned to power, was removed by Islamists. In addition, Ankara plays an active role in supplying terrorist groups in Sinai weapons from Libya. Cairo is hardly ready to close its eyes to this.
To reconcile Turkey and Egypt, some of them will have to retreat from positions of principle, which does not make sense to expect. Accordingly, there will be no progress in negotiations on joint military operations in Syria, which will benefit both the region and Russian-Egyptian relations. Riyadh can influence Cairo solely through the provision of financial assistance to it, and that “works the number” in front of the Saudis, without showing excessive zeal.
The same applies to Jordan. She is ready for financial assistance to participate in the coalition, but does not want to send troops to Syria. With Damascus, Amman reached an agreement on the distribution of powers between the center and the tribal elite in southern Syria (which is the zone of its interests for Jordan), which formed the basis of the amnesty of the local opposition and its truce with the authorities. It is up to King Abdullah to strengthen the Islamists in the neighboring country, risking to face them at home, given the growth of antimonarchic sentiments and the emergence of IS supporters among Bedouins in southern Jordan. This makes Amman confine itself to declarations of intent, and not act for the benefit of Saudi Arabia, with which Hashimites have long-standing accounts.
Mired in oil
In connection with all the above, some serious actions of the new Islamic coalition in Syria can hardly be expected in the near future. There will continue the confrontation along the line: the Assad regime - militants "Ahrar al-Sham" in Aleppo and the Kurds - IS and militants of pro-Saud groups in the Azzaz and Raqqah areas. Especially noteworthy is the information about the ties of the President of Turkey Erdogan and his clan with the Saudis, who are directly tied to radical Islamist groups that are recognized worldwide as terrorist.
This information comes from Western sources. According to British and American intelligence services, one of the main intermediaries in the smuggling of Iraqi and Syrian oil is Saudi businessman Yassin al-Qadi, son-in-law of Sheikh Ahmed Salah Yamzhum, formerly the minister of KSA, a personal friend of President Erdogan. The UN imposed sanctions on al-Qadi in 1999 and 2000, when, in UNN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1333, he was identified as a suspect in al-Qaeda ties. October 12 2001-th Department of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) issued an order freezing its assets in the United States. Soon a similar trial took place in the European Union.
The newspaper “Cumhuriyet” in 2013 published an article about the investigation of al-Qadi’s contacts with Erdogan by the Turkish judicial authorities. The publication published the dates of the meetings and claimed that the head of MIT H. Fidan and the Egyptian businessman U. Qutb, the son of the major sponsor of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood M. Kutb, and sometimes the sons of Erdogan and al-Qadi Bilal and Muaz were present at them. Al-Qadi is an oilman. He maintained contacts between the Saudi elite and the Turkish leadership in organizing the smuggling of black gold. IG needed assistance in selling it, and Erdogan, ensuring transit through Turkish territory, established a channel for mixing illegal oil with Kurdish, Azerbaijani and Turkmen, which went through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and selling this mixture on the world market. This explains the alliance of Turkey with Qatar and KSA in an attempt to destroy Syria as a state from a financial point of view. For the time being, no one has yet abolished violent competition in world markets and attempts to seize foreign territory and resources as a method of conducting politics ...