Military Experts Blast Saudi Arabia’s Strategy in Yemen


American military experts are becoming more vocal in their criticisms as Saudi Arabia’s strategy of air campaigns against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen seems to be ineffective. One expert has even called the goal of a unitary, stable Yemen a “guaranteed failure”.
According to Fox News, David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, opined, “The Saudis had made a couple of missteps on their airstrikes… it seems that they have bitten off more they can chew diplomatically, in terms of what the optics of what the operation might look like.”
This criticism comes on the heels of an announcement and then immediate reversal that the Saudi-led coalition will be ending airstrikes. This announcement is met with the supposition that strategic errors leading to minimal military progress may be the prime reason that Saudi Arabia wants to and the air campaign.
Retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, who has served as an intelligence officer, has said, “Now, from a tactical, military sense, because there apparently are some difficulties with the targeting the Saudis are using, I would then say the strikes are not working.”
Part of the reason, Colonel Leighton says, is due to the non-coordinated nature of the air campaign, adding “airpower needs to be used in concert with other means of power – whether they be diplomatic, military on the ground, military maritime – those are the kind of things that make a difference.”
An article in the New York Times purports that the United States is facing challenging difficulties in trying to advise Saudi Arabia – a crucially-important Middle East ally – about how that country should wage its military campaign, especially since that campaign is beginning to interfere or undercut larger political aims.
The decision by the Saudi Arabian military to use airstrikes as a blunt means to force the rebels into a position where they will be forced to negotiate is actually having the opposite effect. The Houthi rebels have released public statements saying that they were ready to “resume political dialogue” under the auspices of the United Nations, but that resumption was conditional upon “a complete end to the aggression against Yemen”.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said in a phone interview, “There is an effort to walk the Saudis through the process and point out that there is a limit to what you can accomplish through the air.”
A diplomatic solution may turn out to be the most desirable route, because in spite of the continued air campaign, Saudi Arabia’s largest goal has yet to be accomplished – the return to power of Abdu Rabbu Mansour, the Yemeni president who was forced out by the Houthi rebels and driven into exile.

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