Sam Ghandchiسام قندچيWhy Saudi Arabia Attacked Yemen
Sam Ghandchi
http://www.ghandchi.com/898-saudi-yemen-english.htm

چرا عربستان سعودی به یمن حمله کرد
http://www.ghandchi.com/898-saudi-yemen.htm

 

It may seem strange why Saudi Arabia used the request of Yemen's short-term president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had just fled the country, to quickly attack Yemen. But Yemen was an easy target to show power in a region where the US is basically leaving. US and NATO forces have left Afghanistan and the power vacuum is being filled by ISIS and Iran. The same is true for Pakistan which benefited a lot from NATO convoys going through that country and their exit from Afghanistan has economic impact on Pakistan. Yemen's situation positions Saudi to form new alliances similar to those it had with Taliban in the days of fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Of course, nowadays Pakistani Taliban is allying itself with ISIS. Also ISIS is attracting many former Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Therefore, Saudi's move in the region will be a head to head competition with ISIS and Iran to dominate this part of the Middle East.

 

In the last 9 months, due to anti-American moves of ISIS, which used to be Saudi Arabia's ally, Saudi's position in Iraq and Syria has been jeopardized and Iran has been filling the power vacuum. Also US rapprochement with Iran will further strengthen Iran's presence in the Middle East. But Saudi has its own influence in the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Jordan, Gaza, Egypt and even Lebanon. Basically Saudi and Iran vie for dominance in a region when the US is leaving and the extremist groups strive to grab land. Saudi tried to encourage the continuation of US presence in Iraq by keeping oil prices low (1). Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia knows well that all these efforts may extend the US stay a bit longer but the days when US was heavily involved militarily on the two sides of Iran, in Iraq and Afghanistan, are long gone. Even if Saudi Arabia continues to keep the oil prices low, US involvement will not increase much beyond its current dimensions, unless something drastic happens in the region. It is interesting to note that ISIS, seeing US and Iran's rapprochement, has temporarily decreased its anti-US atrocities.

 

Currently, Saudi's challenge is to expand its presence in the Middle East by using its traditional allies. They have even tried to reform groups like Al-Nusra in Syria or tried to create new pro-Saudi groups in Syria but failed on both attempts. ISIS having gone wild was the biggest blow to Saudi Arabia's hope for dominance in the region. The situation was very similar to how Al-Queda went rogue during Sept 11th, 2001 attacks of the US, a development which hurt Saudi Arabia's position in the Middle East (2).  At the same time, one should note that some of Iran's allies in the region, such as Syria's Assad, have also been a liability for Iran. Basically, Iran and Saudi cannot hope to have a Caliphate of their own and need to work with their respective allies when vying for dominance in the Middle East.

 

Currently, Yemen's Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is Saudi's ally and Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh is Iran's ally but in the politics of this region, allegiances change more rapidly than imagined. For now, Saudi Arabia's attacks on Yemen are intended to show Saudi as a strong military and economic power and the immediate objective is to bring Pakistan to provide the foot soldiers for the war. US logistical support of these military operations is the best US can do to help Saudi to fill in the vacuum left by US exit so that ISIS will not fill in the vacuum. Some analysts predict Yemen to become Saudi's Vietnam. Time will tell whether this conflict will be that long or will be extinguished through the joint efforts of Iran and Saudi with the help of US mediation.


Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
IRANSCOPE
http://www.ghandchi.com 
http://www.iranscope.com

April 10, 2015


Footnotes:

 

1. Saudi Cheap Oil to Keep US in Iraq and Syria
http://www.ghandchi.com/842-saudi-oil-english.htm

 

2. Saudi Committing Shah's Mistake

http://www.ghandchi.com/823-saudi-shah-english.htm

 

 

 


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