Apparently, the message being promoted by Amb. Al-Jubeir is not the one being heard within Saudi Arabia. Another story in today’s Arab News reports that Saudi intellectuals see Decisive Storm being very much an action taken against Iran.
Evil designs of Iranian regime should be exposed, say Saudi intellectuals
RIYADH: SHARIF M. TAHA
A number of Saudi intellectuals said Operation Decisive Storm is further proof that Saudi Arabia remains supportive of the Yemeni people.
The intellectuals, speaking to the local media, said the operation aims to support the legitimacy of Yemen which the Houthis tried to “kidnap,” and destabilize its security using arms and weapons.
Dr. Mahmoud Zaini, former member of the Makkah Literary Club, said the Yemeni campaign came to ward off dangers not only to Yemen but to the Gulf region as a whole, and whose leaders felt posed a direct threat to their security and stability.
The operation has stopped the situation in Yemen from deteriorating further and will accelerate the political process in the country as demonstrated by deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh who called for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis promising that he would not run for presidential elections, Zaini said.
Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir is making an effort to explain that Operation Decisive Storm — Saudi-led efforts in Yemen to roll back Houthi rebel advances — is not a proxy war with Iran. It is being waged, he insists, for the stability of Yemen and the region.
Operation Decisive Storm is for the protection of the Yemeni people and defense of their legitimate government and not a proxy war between the Kingdom and Iran, said Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the US.
“This campaign is against a group supported by Iran and Hezbollah,” he said during a Meet the Press program on NBC News of America channel.
Al-Jubeir rejected claims that the operation was a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Asked about the possibility about Saudi Arabia and Iran coexisting in the Middle East, he said the Kingdom has faced many aggressions from the Iranian side, while there has been no aggression from the Kingdom against Iran.
With Yemeni airfields blocked or damaged by air force activity, the Saudi coalition’s navies have blocked Yemeni ports to prevent Iranian resupply, too. Saudi Gazette reports
The report also comments on the tactic of placing military forces in civilian areas with the view that civilian casualties will lead to bad press. That tactic has certainly worked in other parts of the region.
Saudi-led forces block Yemen ports
Mishal Al-Otaibi | Saudi Gazette
RIYADH — Naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition imposed a total blockade on all ports in Yemen, according to Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Asiri, adviser at the office of the minister of defense.
“As of today, all the prescribed naval units have been mobilized to enforce the sea blockade plan by preventing entry or exit from Yemeni ports.
The forces are blocking the movement of ships to prevent weapons and fighters from entering or leaving Yemen,” he told the daily press briefing at the Riyadh Airbase on Monday.
Al-Asiri said the coalition forces are now intensively engaged in repelling an advance of Houthi militias and the forces supporting them along the roads leading to the southern port city of Aden.
The airstrikes are now targeting movement of Houthi leaders, hitting command centers, arms depots, and cutting supply lines, he said, adding that the militia is now targeting citizens by moving their operations to residential areas so as to take advantage of it to create media hype.
In addition to making clear that military action in Yemen against Houthi rebels is an international effort, Saudi Arabia’s government is also trying to underline their view that this is a geo-political effort against Iranian expansionism, not a sectarian war. Asharq Alawsat reports on comments by the Ministry of Defense stating that the operation has closed off air re-supply from Iran to the Houthis.
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi-led airstrikes against the Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi movement in Yemen have successfully cut off air supply lines to the movement from Tehran, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
In his daily briefing on the progress of the air assaults—dubbed Operation Decisive Storm—Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Ahmed Bin Hassan Assiri told reporters the Houthis had used a recent deal signed between Yemen and Iran’s civil aviation authorities to gain military supplies from the Islamic Republic.
Yemen and Iran’s civil aviation authorities signed the agreement in late February, following the Houthi coup, to operate 14 direct flights between both countries, via state carrier Yemen Airways and Iranian private airliner Mahan Air.
Assiri said the Houthis had amassed a large amount of weapons and ammunition from Iran since the deal was signed, but that these supply lines had now been successfully cut off, with weapons storage facilities also targeted throughout the country.
The border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen had now also been secured, he said.
Saudi media are pushing forward examples of international support and cooperation for their Decisive Storm operation in Yemen. Al Arabiya TV reports on US support, both from Washington and from a visiting delegation of congressmen from the Armed Services Committee in the Senate.
Saudi defense minister Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met on Monday with Senator Jim Inhofe, member of the armed services committee at the U.S. Senate, and his accompanying delegation, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
The meeting addressed means of cooperation between the kingdom and the U.S. during the “Decisive Storm” campaign led by the Saudi kingdom upon the request of Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi to halt Houthi militia advances and and restore stability and support legitimacy to the country.
On Friday, President Barack Obama offered U.S. support for air strikes led by Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies on Houthi militia camps in Yemen during a phone call with King Salman.
“The President and King Salman agreed that our collective goal is to achieve lasting stability in Yemen through a negotiated political solution facilitated by the United Nations and involving all parties as envisioned in the GCC Initiative,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
Arab News reports on a study coming from the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology finding that Saudi Arabia’s roads are hugely dangerous. Not only is excessive speed and inattention a problem, but animals on the roadways — particularly camels — are a hazard all their own.
The claim that Saudi Arabia leads the world isn’t quite supported by global statistics. It is, nevertheless, extremely hazardous. Most of the accidents and fatalities are avoidable.
Vehicular accidents caused by animals is growing phenomenon, particularly in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom registers hundreds of accidents caused by camels each year, resulting in the loss of countless lives, as well as property worth millions of riyals. The Ministry of Transport spends billions of riyals trying to curb this issue through the building of fences alongside highways, and other responses.
A recent study has shown that 97 percent of all car accidents involving animals in the Kingdom were with camels, and that more than 90 percent of these accidents occur at night. The Ministry of Agriculture has estimated that the number of camels in the Kingdom was approximately 241,893 in 2008, excluding stray camels that live in the desert.
Riyadh alone has 43 percent of these camels, followed by Al-Qassim with 13 percent, and the Eastern Province with 10 percent. More than 500,000 camels move freely in the Kingdom, and are found around Riyadh and Al-Qassim.
In an op-ed at Al Arabiya TV, Khalf Al Habtoor reminds Iran that the Arab world can play the “support the oppressed!” game, too. He points to the Arab residents of Iran, particularly those in Khuzestan, formerly known as “Arabistan.” These Arabs, he claims, are being treated poorly, as second-class citizens at best. Might they not warrant increased attention and support by Arab states?
He draws parallels — without actually naming names — with the way Iran argues for support of the Houthis in Yemen and calls for Arab, particularly GCC, support for the independence of Arab-occupied portions of Iran.
Arab Ahwaz must be liberated from Iran
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Whenever the Arab world is discussed, forgotten are the five million Arabs struggling to survive under the Persian yoke in an Arab region bordering Iraq and the Arabian Gulf, rich with oil and gas. Once an autonomous area, separated from Persia by the Zagros mountain range, under the governance of Sheikh Khazaal bin Jabber – whose family had ruled for over a century – it was grabbed by Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1925 with a nod and a wink from Britain eager to preserve its relationship with Iran due to its oil interests.
Formerly known as Arabistan, the Iranian occupiers wasted no time in changing the name of this new Iranian province to Khuzestan, rejected by its Arab residents even today. Arabs and Persians have little in common and as Sir Arnold Wilson, a British colonial administrator, once said: Arabistan is “a country as different from Persia as is Spain from Germany.”
Although Arabistan provides Iran with 80 percent of its oil requirements as well as half of its gas, its sons are exploited and oppressed; their human rights tramped upon, their very identity in danger of being obliterated. Iran’s policy of ethnic discrimination combined with its Persian resettlement endeavors has resulted in turning the Ahwazi Arabs into an economic and social underclass.
Saudi analyst Nawaf Obaid has an opinion piece in The Washington Post arguing that in the absence of a strong US policy toward the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is stepping in to fill the void. It will, of course, act in what it sees as its interests, but in forming alliances of like-minded countries, it is not acting solely in its own interests.
Just two months after the passing of King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s extensive intervention in Yemen on Thursday should serve notice to the world that a major generational shift underway in the kingdom is sure to have far-reaching geopolitical ramifications.
The new Saudi leadership — centered on a cadre of youthful, dynamic royals and technocrats — is developing a foreign policy doctrine to address long-standing regional tensions. This doctrine is based on the legitimacy of the Saudi monarchy and the centrality of the kingdom to the Muslim world. As the custodian of the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia is uniquely positioned to rise above the fray of the past decade and begin bridging the considerable gaps dividing the main Sunni nations. With almost 90 percent of Muslims identifying as Sunni, and the Saudis at the epicenter of the Sunni world, the Saudis believe they can meet an urgent need for a united Sunni front against Shiite Iran, as well as the terrorist movements tearing the Arab world apart.
Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, has inherited a disastrous situation in the region. With the Obama administration abandoning the United States’ historical responsibilities and, by extension, most of its prestige in the Middle East, the Saudis have no choice but to lead more forcefully, more coherently and, above all, more sustainably. This mantle is based on the kingdom’s conservative religious base and its unique Arab tribal inheritance. More tangibly, it is backed by $150 billion in spending to upgrade the Saudi military to allow it to engage enemies on two major fronts simultaneously, eliminating the need to rely on foreign assistance in defending the homeland.
Writing for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Anthony Cordesman presents a tour d’horizon of the issues that face the US and Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Definitely worth reading in its entirety.
America, Saudi Arabia, and the Strategic Importance of Yemen
Anthony H. Cordesman
Yemen is a growing reminder of just how important the strategic U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia really is. It is one thing to talk about the war against ISIS, and quite another to realize that U.S. strategic interests require a broad level of stability in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula and one that is dependent on Saudi Arabia as a key strategic partner.
Saudi Arabia has already taken an important lead in Yemen that will need U.S. support. Saudi Arabia and allies are now conducting air strikes in Yemen to try to halt the advance of a Houthi militia, with strong ties to Iran, which is attempting to end President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s efforts to relocate Yemen’s elected government to Aden.
… To put Yemen in a broader strategic context, the crisis in Yemen is only part of the U.S.-Saudi strategic equation. U.S.- Saudi partnership and cooperation is critical in building some form of deterrence and strategic stability to contain Iran in the Gulf. Any nuclear agreement will not affect the need for close cooperation between the United States, Saudi Arabia and other key members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in dealing with the broader and active threat Iran poses in terms of conventional forces, asymmetric warfare, missiles, and strategic influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait play a key role in stabilizing Egypt and Jordan, and U.S., Saudi, and UAE cooperation in arms transfers – along with bases and the force of the other Gulf states – are creating military capabilities and interoperability that both reduce the need for future U.S. power projection and greatly enhances the capability of any forces the United States deploys.
At the same time, Yemen is of major strategic importance to the United States, as is the broader stability of Saudi Arabia all of the Arab Gulf states. For all of the talk of U.S. energy “independence,” the reality remains very different. The increase in petroleum and alternative fuels outside the Gulf has not changed its vital strategic importance to the global and U.S. economy.
Arab News runs a Reuters story indicating that Saudi Arabia is not currently planning to start a ground offensive in Yemen, but will do so if required. Egypt has said that it would assist on the ground if needed.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no immediate plans to launch ground operations inside Yemen but its forces and those of its allies are ready to do so if needed, the military spokesman of the operation said.
“There are no plans at this stage for ground forces operations, but if the need arises, the Saudi ground forces and those of the friends and sisterly forces are ready and will repel any aggression,” Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asseri told a news conference.
As could be expected, Saudi media is heavy with reporting on the military intervention in Yemen that’s being led by Saudi Arabia. Reports focus on the international aspect of the operation, as shown in this infographic from Al Arabiya TV…
The Al Arabiya TV story pre-dates the move of Yemen’s President Hadi’s move to Saudi Arabia from Aden, where he’d taken refuge after fleeing Sana’a.
Of interest is the deployment of Egyptian Navy assets who presumably will work in coordination with the Royal Saudi Navy to interdict possible Iranian attempts to supply Houthi forces. All GCC states, excepting Oman, which borders eastern Yemen, have committed aircraft to the operation. Morocco, Sudan, and Jordan have as well.
The name “Decisive Storm,” rather than the earlier “Determination Storm” seems to have been settled upon.
Dina al-Shibeeb, Al Arabiya News
Allies with their fighter jets on Thursday joined Saudi Arabia in its “Decisive Storm” military operation, targeting Houthi rebels who had vowed to dislodge President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi.
Al Arabiya News Channel reported that Saudi Arabia deployed 150,000 soldiers, 100 fighter jets and navy units in Yemen after Hadi pleaded with its Gulf ally for help against the Houthi rebels, who were advancing toward the southern city of Aden – where Hadi is based – to remove him from power in an attempted coup.
The Royal Saudi Air Force took control of Yemen’s airspace early Thursday, and destroyed four Houthi jets and its surface-to-air (SAM) missiles.
Reports also emerged that top Houthi leadership: Abdulkhaliq al-Houthi, Yousuf al-Madani, and Yousuf al-Fishi were killed and the head of the Revolutionary Committee for the Houthis, Mohammed Ali al-Hothi, was wounded.
Saudi Arabia has begun air operations against the Houthi militias who have taken over much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sana’a, and are moving on the southern city of Adan. The operation, called “Determination Storm” or “Al-Hazem Storm,” has so far received support from the GCC, some of whose members may also take part, as well as from the governments of the EU, UK, France, Turkey, Belgium, Morocco, Sudan, Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt. Several of those have said that they are also willing to take part. Iran has called for a halt to the operation, not surprisingly.
The US government has offered intelligence and logistical support.
The Saudi Press Agency is running brief reports on every bit of support or encouragement being given, including from Saudi Arabia’s Senior Scholars and the Syrian opposition.
The English translation of the operation’s name seems to be a bit up in the air at the moment. Various media are reporting it as “Firm Storm” and “Decisive Storm.”
From Al Arabiya TV:
From Asharq Alawsat:
From Saudi Gazette:
From Arab News: