Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed - India
The operation "Decisive Storm" launched by the Saudi-led coalition against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen has become an albatross around the Kingdom's neck. What could have been a short-term military operation is dragging on and there appears no immediate victory or solution to this grave regional problem, which poses a serious threat to the stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Even after two months of intense bombing, there are no clear winners in the war in which over 100 warplanes and more than 150,000 military personnel have participated. Saudi Arabia has failed militarily to dislodge the Houthis and troops loyal to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, once the blue-eyed boy of the Saudis and their Gulf allies. The rebels are still better positioned in places like Taiz, Marib, Aden and Dali. The war is now assuming dangerous propositions.
Since the launch of the operation, several Saudi cities and market places have come under terrorist attacks. Cities like Qatif and Dammam have been targeted and even policemen have been attacked in Riyadh. Houthis are regularly clashing with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's loyal troops.
When the Yemen operation was launched, it was aimed to be a short military campaign to cripple the firepower of the Houthis. Now the “Operation Decisive Storm" has been changed into the "Restoring Hope" mission with an aim to find some political solution to the problems. The first operation continued unabated with the coalition jets bombing Houthis strongholds and their camps in Yemen regularly without achieving any desired result.
Even the logistical and intelligence support by the Pentagon, which is increasing its military control of Arab countries using the current regional turmoil, has not dismantled Iran-supported Houthi infrastructure.
The coalition forces claim that their operations against Houthis will continue till a UN resolution calling for a rebel pullback takes effect. But these strikes are not effective and only symbolic. That resolution, issued in April, calls on the Houthis to relinquish the territory they have seized. GCC forces in the beginning of the offensive rejected political dialogue, but are now keen to end the spiraling conflict through negotiations.
It appeared that new Saudi leadership, especially Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, who is considered a military genius, was in a tearing hurry to teach a lesson to Houthis and Iran. He jumped into the conflict without preparing an extensive plan to take on the Houthis to install Hadi's regime, without creating a broad regional consensus or explaining the Iranian expansionist threat to potential allies.
The Saudis and other Gulf nations tried to get forces from Pakistan and other countries for a ground attack against Houthi militias, but Islamabad appeared reluctant although some of its senior military and air force officers are assisting the coalition forces against the Shiite group, which has for the first time fired Scud missiles, indicating that the rebels still hold enough fire power. The Yemeni military was widely believed to possess around 300 Scud missiles, most of which fell into the hands of the rebels.
Any protracted war will be a danger to Saudi stability as it tests and challenges their military prowess. Even as the Saudis are getting tactical support from the US, which is also their main weapons supplier, the war is leading nowhere and can cause internal disturbances in the kingdom. And Iran will try to exploit this situation.
Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed is head of Aalmi Urdu Service news agency in New Delhi and a former diplomatic correspondent of United News of India