- U) Asses the Success of the Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen
(U) Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of countries which include nine Arab states supported by the United States, UK and France launched military air strikes in Yemen adjust a section of army units loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis. This coalition also launched an air strike against the forces in Yemen to ensure that countries such as Iran that were in charge of supplying the militant force, Houthi, with arms were not successful. Denial of arms was perceived as the only way through which the civil war in Yemen could be concluded with limited or not military conflict. The coalition initiated by Saudi Arabia constituted of all the from the supporting Arab states with additional military aid from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan. The role of the United States in the coalition has been the provision of intelligent support as a way of ensuring the accurate pinpointing of targets. The Saudi-led assault dubbed, Operation decisive storm has continuously operated on the objective of degrading Houthi, and Saleh forces to ensure that accept the dictated political solutions by Saudi Arabia.
(U) Saudi Arabia and Yemen have had a history of cooperation and conflict and the two countries share a border, which is approximately 1700kms. Since the formation of Saudi Arabia, the country has perceived Yemen as one of the major security concerns and it has sought to ensure stability of the country by influencing its internal political developments.
- (U) Two years following the establishment of Saudi Arabia, the founding leader, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was engaged in war with Yemen. The result of the war was the formation of the treaty of Ta’if, which provided the terms of demarcation for part of the western border that is adjacent to the Red Sea. The demarcation produced mixed results for Yemen because thousands of individuals belonging to one of the major ethnic groups in Yemen were incorporated as part of the Saudi kingdom. The knowledge that there are members of the Yemeni population in Saudi and the understanding that the two countries share border provides substantial reason for the involvement of Saudi aria in matters related to the establishment of political peace in Yemen.
- (U) The objective of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was to ensure that the two countries promote their ability to co-exist in a peaceful manner. This is based on the understanding that military action alone does not provide sufficient solution in the realization of temporary and permanent solutions to civil war related conflicts. The strategic challenges of warfare in a failed state such as Yemen either has the responsbility of addressing border related conflicts or run the risk of becoming a failed war. One of the ways by which the Saudi-led coalition has been attempting to ensure that it does not become a failed war is by limiting arms supply to the rebel groups propagating the civil war in Yemen.
(U) The success of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is not only attributable to war but also the promotion of negotiations between the warring camps as a way of finding an amicable solution to the crisis. Recent reports from the crisis in Yemen have brought with them two important messages for Iran and other nations in support of the militant groups, with regard to the supply of arms.
- (U) One of the messages is that the Gulf States, which comprise part of the Saudi-led coalition, are increasingly tightening their grip against the Houthi and the Saleh sympathizers. This si an indicating that it is the responsbility of Iran to cease its support of the militant groups since they will be considered as the enemies of peaceful negotiation who have selfish interests in the Yemen crisis.
- (U) The second message coming from the Saudi-led coalition is that any form of intervention in the Gulf countries by Iran is a threat to the crisis since it will minimize the possibility that Iran will be included in the national dialogues regarding the effects of the troubles facing Yemen to the region.
(U) The Saudi-led coalition has continuously been successful in the popular resistance against the Houthis and Saleh led groups. The resistance continues to gain sufficient strength and control in certain areas of Taiz. The military strikes by the coalition enabled it to expand its sphere of influence to region such as Saada, which were largely considered as the strongholds of the Houthis. This was considered as an indication of the failure by Iran in its support towards the militant group due to the increase in the likelihood that the Houthis will surrender to the coalition.
(U) The liberation of Saada from the rule of the militant groups continued to give the indication that the militant groups were losing its grip in areas perceived as strongholds. The bombing of the runway of Sanaa airport by the Saudi led coalition prevented Iranian planes from landing in Yemen and providing the militants with weapons in April 2015, was a way of limiting the advantage that the militant group could have had over the coalition.
- (U) There were claims that inasmuch as the bombing of the airport was successful strategy in preventing the Houthi and Saleh led coalitions from accessing weapons, it was also a way of limiting aid to the civilian population in Yemen who were faced with hunger, thirst, and diseases. In addition, critics of the Saudi-led coalition also argued that, months after the bombing the humanitarian crisis worsened because of the denial of entry points for humanitarian aid to be provided to the citizens. However, these assumptions were refuted as false because the coalition played a leading role in the provision of sufficient security to the Red Crescent at and other humanitarian organization in the process of delivering aid to the civilian population. This is because prior to the intervention by the coalition, the militant groups used aid as leverage over those opposed to the civil war hence denying essential needs to those in need.
(U) In May 2015, during the Yemen conference, Saudi Arabia considered the argument that military strike was only one of the solutions to the problems in Yemen. This was through the provision of moral lessons for those in support of peaceful negotiations in the form of a dialogue.
- (U) As the leader of the coalition, Saudi Arabia did not impose its own terms on the members of the coalition but left the representative of Yemen to be engaged in the decision making process.
- (U) The decision by Saudi is based on the belief that the representatives of Yemen have the permission and authority from the prevailing Yemen government to make rational and lasting solutions. This dialogue was considered beneficial to all parties since it rejected the participation of Iran in any activity related to Yemen due to its bipartisan interests in the crisis.
(U) During the formation of the Saudi-led coalition, which comprised of all the Gulf Cooperation Council Member states (GCC) with the exception of Oman, the objectives were to destroy y the gains made by the Houthis and the Saleh led militia groups. An additional objective was to ensure the restoration of President Abd Hadi’s government while at the same time bringing stability and Security in Yemen. The coalition expected to achieve these objectives engaging the militia groups in combat conflicts characterized by bombings and takeover of strongholds. In addition, the coalition was also aimed at the creation of platforms that could allow for dialogue between the parties in conflicts. Peace, stability and security was considered an essential aspect in the Yemen crisis because it was the only way through which humanitarian organizations could ensure that the citizens are provide with essential products and services for survival. . It is possible to compare the situation in Yemen with that of Syria considering that in both cases Iran has supported militia groups. In Syria, Iran provided support and arms to President Assad and militia groups, which contributed to the catastrophic situation in the region. In 2014, Iran was one of the interested parties in the Geneva negotiations supporting President Assad’s regime. Iran was one of the interested parties in the dialogues supporting the militia group against the government. Saudi Arabia has played an essential role through the coalition in attempting to ensure that Yemen regains its stability. While explaining its position its permanent representative in the United Nations, Saudi aria argues that here was no place for Iran in the Geneva dialogue because the county did not play any constructive role in the development and sustainability of stability in the region. This means that it is unacceptable for Iran to be included in the talks since it seeks to promote negativity in Yemen talks.
(U) The Saudi-led coalition believed that military strikes against the Horthy and the Saleh led militia groups would undermine the security and the safety of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. An additional threat to posed by the civil war is that it would sharpen the sectarian chasm.
(U) By the end of April 2015, the Saudi- led coalition declared an end to the military strikes against the Iran backed Houthis in Yemen. This was followed by a decision to shift to a political process, which was aimed at the stabilization of the impoverished Arab nation. Despite the end of the attacks, Saudi Arabia held that there was still a possibility of resorting to military attacks considering that the political process was largely aimed at the determination of the extent to which the militant groups were ready and willing to end the violence. In addition, the decision to end the conflict was a result of the desire by Yemen president, to consider the use of peaceful negotiations in ending the violence that had rocked the country’s wellbeing.
(U) Other than the need to end the violence in the country, the decision to temporarily ceasefire in Yemen was also a strategy by the Saudi-led coalition of pressurizing the militant groups to consider addressing their grievances to through negotiation while at the same time ensuring a reduction in the number of causalities from the military strikes.
- (U) It is a fact that the crisis in Yemen does not only have a military solution. However, form a broader perspective it is also possible to argue that lasting peace in the country cannot be realized without effective security and stability measures. For the government in Yemen to continue in building infrastructure and developing sustainable polices, the Saudi-led coalition had to intervene and provide military support against the Houthi and the Saleh led militant groups. The effective nature of these interventions was that they led to a reduction of warfare and enhancing nation building.
- (U) Inasmuch as the Saudi-led coalition played a major role in reducing the effects of the conflict in Yemen, it also had devastating consequences for the civilian population and for the government. The conflict which was characterized by bombing of cities and towns believed t be the strongholds of the militant groups also brought with it massive deaths, injuries and damages to the civilian population. Since the beginning of the airstrike by the coalition in March 2015, there were more than 1,000 deaths, 4,000 injured from the conflict. The government has also faced losses from destruction of road and communication infrastructure.
- (U) The Saudi led coalition in Yemen was also considered as a prerequisite for a humanitarian disinter. This si because constant airstrikes led to the destruction of homes hence the displacement of more than 26 million citizens of Yemen. These individuals faced problems related to food, security, and health complications. Constant wars and bombing of airports denied the humanitarian agencies an opportunity of accessing the remote and highly affected areas.
- (U) Supporters for the Saudi-led government in Yemen argued that it was a sign that there was a possibility that Yemen could cease-fire after years of Iranian influence on the internal affairs of the country. The Houthi and Saleh militant groups in Yemen considered military attacks by the Saudi-led coalition as the only alternative to the atrocious attacks.
- (U) Critics of these attacks have argued that the attacks were relatively meaningless considering that the crisis in Yemen required apolitical settlement rather than a military action. Massive deaths of innocent civilians through the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition were an indication of the failure to secure the lives and property of the civilians from the destruction by the militant groups. Military strikes in the view of the opposing groups were therefore never the decisive way of defeating the Houthi and Saleh led militant groups.
- (U) The inability of the Saudi-led coalition to ensure lasting peace in Yemen was an indication that the bombing campaign could not be successful in ensuring adequate change in the internal political structure of Yemen. These criticisms however ignored the years of in political contacts used by Saudi Arabia in ending the statement in Yemen. Military action in this situation must therefore be perceived as an additional strategy towards the realization of lasting peace and security in the country.
- (U) It is possible to perceive the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to acquire some level of influence among the GCC countries. Through the interventions by the country in conflict situation, it was positioning itself as one of the major players and decision makers in matters of the Middle East.
(U) Intelligence gaps
- (U) How have the interventions by the Saudi-led coalition contributed to infrastructural development in Yemen
- (U) What is the plan of the United States in ensuring that it continues to pinpoint targets while mitigating the role of Iran in fueling the Yemen war?
- (U) What is the popular opinion of Houthi and Saleh led militant groups among the citizens in Yemen
- (U) What strategies is the current government in Yemen developing to ensure that it maintains legitimacy?
- (U) Can the Saudi-led coalition be accused of propagating crimes against humanities through the military strikes affecting the civilian population in Yemen?
(U) Appendix A
(U) Moderate confidence: this is because the assessments were based on findings from credible university sources. However, a large number of these sources were from national and international news agencies, which contained minor levels of bias and limited aspects of conflicting reports
Andreas, Krieg, (2015, May 8). Stability in Yemen: A Matter of Gulf Collaboration, Middle
Chakravarty, Pinak Ranjan. (2015, June). Civil War in Yemen. West asia monitor, Vol. 1, Issue
Joseph A. Kechichian (2015, May 27), Iran’s potent threats to Saudi Arabia, Gulf News,
Madawi, Al-Rasheed, (2015, May 8). King Salman needs total victory in Yemen, Al-Monitor.
Melhem, Hisham & David, Camp. (2015, May 9). A summit and its discontents, Al-Arabia
Mousavian, S. H. (2015, May 8), Is Iran really to blame for Yemen conflict?, Al-
Prasanta, K. P. (2015, May 26) Operation Decisive Storm’ and Changing Geopolitics
in the Gulf, IDSA.
Tobin, Jonathan. (2015, may 11). Why the Snub? Saudis Know Obama’s, Replaced Them With
Iran, Commentary Magazine,