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“The Saudis have gotten themselves caught in a big swamp”

This war has raged for years and may last for decades

“Local sources confirm that Saudi Arabia continued to launch airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Jebel al-Dukhan area on the Saudi-Yemeni border, despite ROYG statements to the contrary… While Saudi airstrikes may succeed in driving the Houthis from some of their border strongholds, they are unlikely to have much impact on the Sa’ada war without an accompanying ground invasion.”

“In response to Houthi incursions into Saudi territory and a November 2 Houthi attack on Saudi border guards, Saudi Arabia continued to launch airstrikes against Houthi rebels in the Jebel al-Dukhan area on the Saudi-Yemeni border, local sources told PolOffs in early November. In contradiction to AP reports that Saudi Arabia regained control of contested Jebel al-Dukhan on November 8, the Houthis denied that the Saudis had taken the mountain, claiming they were still in control. Also on November 8, a ROYG aircraft crashed in Razih district (which borders Saudi Arabia to the north of Malahit); the Houthis took credit for downing it, while the ROYG claimed mechanical failure. Independent Yemeni journalists report that, contrary to official Saudi statements, Saudi airplanes have entered Yemeni airspace and hit targets inside of Yemen.”

These are not current news briefs from the recent escalation of the war in Yemen, as one would suggest. These portions of US classified diplomatic cables have been released by Wikileaks as a necessary background to the latest deadly events. Dozens of civilians have lost their lives in Saudi airstrikes on Yemen’s capital and around the country. They are victims of a conflict which has raged for years due to the illusion that force is better than negotiations, and bullets and bombs make the best persuasion.


The bad news is that we are probably in for a new round of globalization. The globalization of fear, violence and civilizational decay.  Real and imaginary dangers will promote government and secret services (which are actually corporations beyond any control) unbridled clampdown on dissent and on civil society in general. And, once established, this new totalitarianism can easily outlive even a long, nasty hot war by decades.

I recommend that you read into what Wikileaks has revealed on the subject. One easy way is to use Wikileaks’ interactive map, or follow some of Wikileaks’ Facebook feeds. Here is just a bit more from the cables dating from 2009:

“According to Murad Zafir, Deputy Director of the National Democratic Institute, the contested area in Jebel al-Dukhan is officially part of Saudi Arabia, but when the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia was drawn through the area, it cut through the territory that had traditionally belonged to a Zaydi Yemeni tribe. He told PolOff on November 8 that because “tribal territories transcend international borders,” the tribes living in that area consider it Yemeni even if it is officially Saudi. Furthermore, while the members of the tribe whose territory straddles the two countries identify first and foremost with their tribe, they identify secondly as Yemenis, not Saudis – regardless of which side of the border they live on.”

“Zafir believes there was probably an agreement between the ROYG and KSA to encircle the Houthis by attacking them simultaneously from the north and the south. According to Zafir, the SAG had granted the ROYG military access to Jebel al-Dukhan in order to gain leverage over the Houthis, but the Houthis were able to rout them, so the Saudis launched airstrikes to clear Houthis from the area… Houthi said, “We do not target Saudi territory and we are not fighting them in their territory or in the areas under their control. The problem is that we are facing aggression, and there is clear cooperation between the Saudi regime and the Yemeni regime.”

“Some observers, such as journalist Rabiye, believe Saudi military involvement will bring the war to a swifter conclusion. But others do not see Saudi involvement as a silver bullet. Zafir expects Saudi involvement to continue, pointing to media reports that KSA is massing ground troops at the Saudi-Yemen border. In his view, the “big mobilization” of troops signals the intention to be engaged for a long time. He does not see a quick end to the war, though, because it has expanded to include tribes whose territories span the Saudi-Yemeni border. With the tribal dynamics of blood feuds and revenge killings, “the Saudis have gotten themselves caught in a big swamp” from which it will be hard to extract themselves, he believes.”


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Categories: Middle East, Yemen
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