April 1, 2015

Common Sense In The New York Times Regarding Yemen

An excerpt from, "Saudi Arabia’s Ominous Reach Into Yemen" The New York Times, March 31, 2015:
Unlike that Qaeda affiliate, the Houthis are indigenous to Yemen and won’t be defeated militarily, or at least not without destroying the country. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, on Tuesday foreshadowed an open-ended commitment, saying the Saudi-led offensive would continue until Yemen was “returned to security, stability and unity.” Yet airstrikes alone won’t do the job. Saudi Arabia has not ruled out a ground invasion, even though its troops are inexperienced in such combat and would be at a particular disadvantage against Houthi fighters, who are battle-hardened and know the country’s forbidding terrain.

The Houthis have fought a half-dozen civil conflicts since 2004 and are still standing. The Saudi bombing may have already had one especially tragic outcome: Humanitarian workers said a strike killed at least 40 people at a camp for displaced people.

It would be a catastrophic mistake for Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to allow the Yemeni civil war to become the catalyst for a larger sectarian Shiite-Sunni war with Iran. President Obama should press this fact upon the Saudi leadership. As one of Saudi Arabia’s most reliable allies, he should use his influence to encourage all sides to work toward a political solution — both to prevent a wider conflict and to give Yemen a chance at stability.
The House of Saud has bitten off more than they can chew in Yemen. If Washington can act as a restraining force then that's good for the region and the world. But it may be too late.