Saudis Begins Air Assault in Yemen - Mark Mazzetti and David D. Kirkpatrick
Saudi Arabia announced it had launched a campaign in Yemen to restore the Yemeni government after Shiite Houthi rebels took control of large swaths of the country. Saudi Arabia said it had launched airstrikes in coordination with a coalition of 10 nations.
(New York Times)
The U.S. Dropped the Ball on Yemen - Ron Ben-Yishai
The U.S. has once again messed up big time - this time in Yemen, where it underestimated the military might of the Houthis, who are backed by Iran and Sunni tribes loyal to the old regime. The Americans also understand the strategic significance of the capture of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait by a Shiite tribe loyal to Iran, which now controls the entrance to the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean.
But the U.S. National Security Council and President Obama were so hell-bent on the need to fight al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen that they failed to see the much greater threat being created right under their noses.
How Saudis Took the Lead in Yemen - Eli Lake & Josh Rogin
On Thursday, Egyptian warships entered the Gulf of Aden, while Saudi jets pounded Houthi positions on the mainland.
America's traditional allies in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Turkey and Egypt - began stitching together the military coalition in the beginning of March.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, General Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. Central Command, said he did not learn the Saudis were actually going to attack Yemen until an hour before the operation was launched.
Egypt May Send Troops to Yemen - David D. Kirkpatrick
Egypt said it was prepared to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis, a day after Saudi Arabia and a coalition of nine other states began hammering the Houthis with airstrikes and blockading the Yemeni coast.
(New York Times)
Yemen Devolves into Proxy War
- Hakim Almasmari, Rory Jones & Asa Fitch
The conflict in Yemen is quickly devolving into a wider regional conflagration, pitting Shiite Iran and the allied militant Houthis against Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states. Saudi Arabia said its campaign in Yemen was being conducted in tandem with Egypt and Gulf neighbors Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey indicated they would support operations against the Houthis.
(Wall Street Journal)
Yemen: Testing Ground for Coalition Against Iran - Zvi Bar'el
The Saudi assault on Yemen is part of a comprehensive strategy to halt the spread of Iranian influence in the Middle East. The core of the new, more aggressive policy consists of building a Sunni axis comprised of most of the Arab states plus the moderate and less-moderate Sunni organizations, the establishment of a 40,000-strong Arab intervention force that draws from the militaries of the Gulf States and Egypt, and an aggressive persuasion campaign to get countries with close ties to Iran to switch sides and join the Sunni axis.
The military preparations included direct coordination with Egypt, ensuring support from Pakistan, and the addition of Sudan to the military force. Qatar also joined the coalition despite being considered an Iranian ally.
The speed with which this Arab coalition has formed shows how fearful Saudi Arabia and its allies are that Yemen has now become part of the Iranian sphere of influence and control. This concern is particularly acute now that Syria and Iraq, and Lebanon to a large degree, have essentially become Iranian protectorates.
A New Generation of Saudi Leaders and a New Foreign Policy
- Nawaf Obaid
Just two months after the passing of King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's extensive intervention in Yemen should serve notice that a major generational shift is underway in the kingdom that is sure to have far-reaching ramifications. With almost 90% of Muslims identifying as Sunni, and the Saudis at the epicenter of the Sunni world, the Saudis believe they can meet an urgent need for a united Sunni front against Shiite Iran, as well as the terrorist movements tearing the Arab world apart.
The writer is a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.