Saudi Arabia appears to be undergoing a very apparent string of failures in recent weeks. The situation is quite precarious and complicated.
Starting from June 7th onward, the Ansar Allah movement (the Houthis) have had significant success in clashes with the Saudi-led coalition and attacks on Saudi infrastructure. Initially, the Houthis-allied Yemeni Air Defense force downed a US MQ-9 unmanned combat aerial vehicle above al-Hudaydah. The US aerial activities in the region are there to mostly support the Saudi-led coalition’s effort.
On June 8th, the Houthis repelled three Saudi-led coalition attacks in southern Najran, destroying several military vehicles. This was one of many hit-and-run attacks of the Houthis in the days leading to the clashes. A Saudi-backed Yemeni fighter was even captured by the Houthis after being abandoned by his comrades.
On June 9th, the Houthis’ positions in Saudi Arabia itself, in the southern province of Jizan were further strengthened. On top of it, more Saudi-led coalition attacks on Najran were repelled.
Then, following continuous clashes, on June 12th, a cruise-missile launched by the Houthis struck the Abha International Airport in southern Saudi Arabia.
On June 14th, the Houthis successfully attacked the Abha Airport once more, this time with suicide drones. The Yemeni Air Force attacked the strategic airport with several suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Qasef-2K type.
“The attack on Abha airport, which took place today, targeted the aerial navigation radars which put the airport out of service and suspended navigation in it,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the Houthis, said in a short press release.
On the same day, the Houthis targeted and destroyed Saudi positions in the Kingdom’s province of Jizan. The targets were struck with guided missiles
The successful attack forced Saudi-backed forces to withdraw from several positions near mount Qais in the southern part of Jizan.
On the very next day, the Houthis once more used suicide drones to target the Abha International Airport, but in addition targeted the Jizan airport.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the Yemeni group, said that several Qasef-2K suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) struck a drone command and control center in Jizan airport and Abha airport’s main fuel station.
“The operations achieved their goals with high precision, thanks God, rendering both airports out of service,” the al-Masirah TV quoted the Houthis’ spokesman as saying.
Following that, the Houthis had success in repelling large-scale Saudi attacks on southern ‘Asir.
“We repelled an attack by the mercenaries of the aggressor … From the north [direction] … We killed four of them,” a field commander of the Houthis said on June 16th.
In the same area, the Houthis destroyed 11 Saudi vehicles just a few days later.
A power plant in was struck by a Houthi cruise missile in the southern province of Jizan, in the area of al-Shuqaiq, on June 20th.
On the same day, they also targeted the Jizan international airport once more with suicide drones, putting it out of service.
Even earlier than these examples, the Houthis targeted oil infrastructure, among other things, crippling Saudi Arabia’s “lifeblood,” at least partially.
Reports of this sort aren’t exclusive over the last two weeks, but are rather continuous over the last several months.
A UN report blamed Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard delivered a report concluding that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated. She recommended that all states impose sanctions on the Saudis involved in the killing, specifically including Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
The entire report may be found here (HINT: the link automatically downloads a word document).
The key recommendations of the report includes a call for U.N. members to “impose targeted sanctions against individuals allegedly involved in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. These should include the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, focusing on his personal assets abroad, until and unless evidence has been produced that he bears no responsibility for the execution of Mr. Khashoggi.” This is an extraordinary recommendation for an international report.
Regardless if the report receives wide international support, what matter is that the finger is being pointed.
On June 20th, US Senate voted to block US President Donald Trump’s Saudi arms sale deal. The Senate voted 53-45 on resolutions to block two of the sales, with GOP Sen. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul and Todd Young joining Democrats.
They voted 51-45 to block the additional 20 arms sales.
The 22 arms sales, estimated to be worth more than $8 billion, would provide weapons to Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
But it sparked widespread backlash in Congress after Trump used an “emergency” provision of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) to sidestep the 30-day notification to lawmakers about a pending sale.
Sen. Bob Menendez, who sponsored the resolution, argued that Congress needed to send a message that U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia or the UAE are “not a blank check.”
“For months upon months, this administration has failed to demonstrate how equipping the Saudis with more weapons would improve the Saudis’ respect for human rights in Yemen or advance America’s own values and national security interests,” Menendez said.
Sen. Chris Murphy added that if lawmakers didn’t try to block the sale, they were effectively allowing this administration and future administrations to ignore Congress on arms sales.
“If we don’t take a positive vote here, we are giving away this priority potentially forever, because you know, this emergency in the Middle East is not a new emergency,” he added.
The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a veto statement against all 22 resolutions of disapproval ahead of the vote.
“The transfer of these capabilities and services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan directly supports the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of friendly countries that continue to be important forces for political and economic stability in the Middle East,” OMB said in a statement.
Regardless, if the ban actually happens and it is a clash between a White House veto and a US Senate decision, this is a sign that the apparently unending support for the Kingdom, appears to not be completely bottomless.
Keeping in mind the situation in the Middle East and the tension between the US and Iran, the Saudi’s complicated situation, especially with its failures against the Houthis and the possible cutting off of weapons sales may put the US at a precarious situation.
If push comes to shove, the US would need both its key allies in the region in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia to back it up, but Mohammed bin Salman’s Kingdom may fall short.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Houthis Shoot Down Another U.S. Armed Drone Over Yemen’s Western Coast (Video, Photos)
- Houthis Repel Three Attacks In Southern Najran, Destroy Several Saudi Military Vehicles (Video)
- Houthis Advance In Jizan And Repel Another Coalition Attack In Najran (18+ Videos)
- Houthis Attack Abha Airport With Suicide Drones Swarm
- Houthis’ “Cruise Missile” Successfully Hits Airport In Southern Saudi Arabia
- Combat Footage: Houthis Destroy Saudi Positions With Guided Missiles In Jizan
- Houthis Strike Two Airports In Southern Saudi Arabia With Suicide Drones
- Combat Footage: Houthis Repel Large-Scale Attack In Southern ‘Asir