The US has continued supporting its efforts against the Houthis.Since the beginning of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015.
Despite wide-ranging and seemingly endless support, which comes in spite of bombing of civilian targets and other questionable methods of fighting the war, such as using child soldiers from African countries, Saudi Arabia is losing the war vs the Yemeni group.
The US maintains that it assists the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, because the Houthis are an Iranian-backed group whose “malign influence” must not be allowed to spread any further. Support against the Houthis is allegedly only expressed in weapon deliveries, training assistance, logistics and intelligence support.
However, the US is actively taking part in counterterrorism actions in Yemen, allegedly targeting ISIS and al-Qaeda, but there is little clarity of what exactly is going on in that regard.
In short, the US support for the Kingdom can be summarized in the following groups, laid out in a report focused on the war in Yemen called “Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention,” published on September 17th, 2019. [pdf]
Anybody who is even an involuntary and sporadic observer of the situation in Yemen can see that there is no such thing as a Civil War there, but regardless the efforts of the Trump administration, most of which began during the Obama administration are properly presented. Some are simply exaggerated, such as support for UN resolutions on the conflict:
- Support for U.N. efforts to advance a political process – U.S. policymakers have repeatedly expressed confidence in the role of Special Envoy Griffiths to move the various Yemeni parties toward a political settlement. Moreover, U.S. officials have emphasized Yemen’s unity, saying that “dialogue represents the only way to achieve a stable, unified, and prosperous Yemen.” In September 2019, one U.S. official also announced that the United States was conducting talks with the Houthis to further a negotiated solution to the Yemen conflict.
This would make a difference if it was a bipartisan solution coming from US Congress and supporting by the presidential administration, but currently it is just hollow rhetoric.
- Condemnation of Iran’s destabilizing role in Yemen – U.S. policymakers have repeatedly portrayed Iran as a spoiler in Yemen, bent on sabotaging peace efforts by lending support to Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia.
This goes without saying, Iran’s role in anything at all is “destabilizing,” the Islamic Republic is “the enemy” and it must be opposed in any way possible.
- Assistance for the coalition – According to President Trump’s most recent report to Congress on the deployment of U.S. armed forces abroad, “United States Armed Forces, in a non-combat role, have also continued to provide military advice and limited information, logistics, and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen. United States forces are present in Saudi Arabia for thispurpose. Such support does not involve United States Armed Forces in hostilities with the Houthis for the purposes of the War Powers Resolution.” In the summer of 2019, President Trump ordered the deployment of a Patriot air defense battery to Prince Sultan Air Base in central Saudi Arabia, as Saudi King Salman reportedly approved the deployment of U.S. forces on Saudi territory. According to the State Department, “We stand firmly with our Saudi partners in defending their borders against these continued threats by the Houthis, who rely on Iranian-made weapons and technology to carry out such attacks.”
It is simply a way to fight against Iran, through supporting the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and disregarding any atrocities that are carried out, since Saudi Arabia claims it attempts to avoid civilian casualties and tries to protect human rights, but that is still simply a claim that is backed by no concrete efforts whatsoever.
- Sales of armaments and munitions to Gulf partners – Though the Obama Administration placed a hold on a planned sale of precision guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabiain 2016, both the Obama and Trump administrations have approved several billions of dollars in major weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. When the Trump Administration notified Congress of 22 emergency arms sales in May 2019, Secretary Pompeo cited Iran’s “malign activity” and the need “to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East” as justification for the sales.
Again, any actions that are undertaken are specifically aimed at countering Iran, regardless of whether there’s really any concrete evidence of Iran being present there. Yes, the Houthis are supported by Iran, but it apparently never gets excessive. Iran’s “malign influence” is the be-all and end-all of all justifications.
- Humanitarian Aid for Yemen – As previously mentioned (see, The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen), the United States is one of the largest humanitarian contributors in Yemen.
How much of that humanitarian aid reaches those that require it the most, those trapped in al-Hudaydah with the Saudi-led coalition continuing its attacks on the city in spite of the UN-brokered ceasefire surely aren’t being reached by it, or not by a significant part of it.
- Finally, here comes the other be-all end-all justification – counterterrorism efforts by the US in Yemen – the United States has continued to work with local and regional actors to counter terrorist groups operating in Yemen such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.
These counterterrorism efforts are outlined in a June 2019 letter by Trump to US Congress:
“A small number of United States military personnel are deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS-Yemen. The United States military continues to work closely with the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) and regional partner forces to dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by those groups. Since the last periodic update report, United States forces conducted a number of airstrikes against AQAP operatives and facilities in Yemen, and supported the United Arab Emirates-and ROYG-led operations to clear AQAP from Shabwah Governorate. United States Armed Forces are also prepared to conduct airstrikes against ISIS targets in Yemen.”
In 2019 in southern Yemen, AQAP has periodicallystruck both ROYG troops and forces allied with the Southern Transitional Council. Fighting between the ROYG and the STC has raised some concern that a divided south will provide AQAP breathing room to reemerge as a terrorist threat both to Yemen and its neighbors.
Al-Hudaydah, one of the most significant, if not the most significant “stronghold” of the Houthis against the Saudi-led coalition is in the South, thus it would make sense it needs to be overwhelmed in order to defeat the terrorists. Such a justification is not too far from any possible future scenarios.
Regardless of this support, the Saudi-led coalition is losing against the Houthis, and it is losing heavily.
Even the UAE initiated a drawdown, with groups affiliated to it even carrying out strikes on the Saudi-controlled Southern Transitional Council (the “internationally-recognized” Yemen government).
“As previously mentioned, one possible explanation for the summer 2019 phased drawdown of UAE forces from Yemen was out of concern that the reputational damage the UAE had incurred from its active participation in the war in Yemen outweighed the military results it had achieved on the ground after more than four years of warfare.”
Clearly Saudi Arabia and the US have no such worries. After all, following the international outcry against Saudi Arabia’s aerial campaign in Yemen in 2018, Saudi Arabia reportedly invested $750 million in a training program through the U.S. military in helping mitigate civilian casualties. Clearly, they’re putting effort through paying copious amounts of money to silence the most influential “defender” of human rights – the US.
Reports praising US efforts to train and prepare the Saudi army for the fight are numerous, some of the most famous ones are regarding Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, who served as Program Manager (PM) for Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM-SANG) for two years.
Muth quickly learned that the assignment needed three ingredients to be successful. “First, I had to develop a relationship with the Saudi leadership, and that took time and trust to build those relationships, and over time they trusted our recommendations,” Muth explained. “Of course, it wasn’t just me building the relationship, every Soldier and civilian that works for OPM-SANG plays a tremendous role in developing a strong relationship with their Saudi counterparts.”
He seems to have learned wrong, since his efforts led to quite little in terms of actual military success.
In the lengthy video he explains what transpired at SANG, and how it could’ve been successful back in 2017. In 2019 it is quite obvious that it wasn’t.
Most recently, the Saudi-led coalition’s “success,” in addition to the US’ massive support of its efforts there were once more reinforced.
The Houthis reported that they had carried out a successful months-long operation in southern Saudi Arabia that has resulted in the deaths of 500 Saudi-aligned troops and the capture of approximately 2,000.
Furthermore, the Houthis said that the attack on Aramco’s oil infrastructure was part of the operation, which the US and the Kingdom blamed on Iran. After all, drones and missiles went past several Patriot defense batteries and caused heavy damage, with almost all of them not being stopped. Those that were stopped, were actually aimed poorly, and weren’t really dismantled by the Patriot systems.
Geolocation of Buqayq facilities Air defense systems.
this facilities at least defended by one Patriot PAC-2/3 , 3 Skyguard and one Shahine Batteries. pic.twitter.com/ZiiLjofiSW
— فیلد مارشال! (@FieldMarshalPSO) September 18, 2019
The SANG, which Major General Frank Muth trained had some of their people detained and killed, as well as their LAV-25s convoys captured, despite their very expensive and “successful” training.
Saudi-Canadian LAVs as far as the eye can see pic.twitter.com/NmKHzE5HL2
— Anthony Fenton (@anthonyfenton) June 12, 2018
Saudi Arabia has bought fighter jets, warships, air and missile defense systems for billions of dollars. The US even said that it plans to deploy more hardware to Saudi Arabia to defend it, that is surely not to be free, as well.
Regardless, there is very little result in terms of military success and a very large promise that if a larger regional conflict were to start, Saudi Arabia would be very decisively on the losing side of it.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- UAE Is Preparing To Launch New Military Operation In Southwest Yemen – Report
- In Video: Houthis Crushing Positions Of Saudi-led Fores In Saudi Arabia’s Najran Province
- Saudi Arabia Halts Airstrikes On Yemen: Al-Mayadeen
- Saudi-led Coalition Claims Two Ballistic Missiles Launched By Houthis Failed Midcourse