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Experts say military operation in Yemen fraught with chaos in Arabian Peninsula

April 09, 2015, 17:05 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. Greater military support to Saudi Arabia from the United States and the League of Arab States’ plans for sending a common army to fight against Shi’ite rebels in Yemen may trigger chaos in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula and bring about a further influx of militants into the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State, polled experts have told TASS.

The United States will speed up weapons supplies to its Arab allies, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. Also, Washington has promised to share intelligence information with the Saudi army. US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has allowed the allies’ planes to land at US bases for refueling and approved of the deliveries of smart weapons to Saudi Arabia.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia, the anti-rebels coalition’s leader, has provided a large military contingent for the operation codenamed Storm of Resolve and declared that its ultimate aim will be to return Yemen under the control of self-exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Moscow has urged settling the armed crisis in Yemen at the negotiating table. President Vladimir Putin called on both parties to the conflict for talks in a special message to the League of Arab States.

In the meantime, as the President of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky has told TASS, the Houthi rebels in Yemen have been gaining control of ever more areas, including the capital Sana’a and the port of Aden in the south of the country. "Their plan is to reformat Yemen’s state system in conformity with the Iranian model, with the clergy playing the role of the supreme arbiter. Ousted President Hadi is unpopular in Yemen. A majority of the political elite and the tribal chiefs will not go to fight for him," Satanovsky said.

"At the moment the Houthi forces are splitting up into smaller groups so as to avoid being easy targets for the Air Forces of the Arabian monarchies. The Houthi forces may be moving back northwards, to the mountain areas traditionally under their control, where they enjoy popular support. Trying to drive them out would be unrealistic, because any military operation will result in heavy losses by the attacking side. Indeed, is there a force capable of beating the proud mountain people? They will wipe out any force of invasion. The more so, since Yemen is the Middle East’s largest black market of military hardware," Satanovsky recalls.

He believes there remains a big question mark over plans for forming a ground coalition, although, if the Arab media’s extensive media coverage of this idea is to be believed, it is an accomplished fact. "Big doubts remain about the real participation of Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, and Egypt, let alone Pakistan. One of the reasons is the proposed coalition would be outspokenly anti-Shi’ite, and joining it would be a rather risky move for Pakistan, which has a common border with Iran, with its large Shi’ite population," he believes.

"Thriving Islamic radicalism and the related adverse consequences will be a side-effect of efforts to step up the US-backed Storm of Resolve operation. Even if the coalition’s forces gain control of the capital city, Sana’a, this will not guarantee the restoration of calm and a final solution of the Yemeni problem. Chaos and collapse of the Arabian monarchies will be a far more likely outcome," Satanovsky warns.

Senior research fellow Boris Dolgov, at the Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences explains the Houthi offensive has been so successful in a great part of Yemen’s territory because a majority of the population had no faith in the former president Saleh, nor in the self-exiled head of state, Hadi. The Houthi forces have proposed a program of their own - a crackdown on corruption and the establishment of the Iranian style of Islamic social justice. The Houthi forces will stay unbeatable as long as they enjoy popular support," Dolgov told TASS.

He rules out the launch of a ground operation by the allied forces in Yemen, because Saudi Arabia has only military planes and rockets, while the ground forces of the Arab states, except for those of Egypt, are not ready for combat. But Egypt, too, will not agree to intrude into Yemen. One can expect only stronger bombardments of the Houthi positions, which would merely cause the people to rally closer together against their leaders," Dolgov predicts.

"Bombing raids would ruin Yemen’s infrastructures and cause heavy loss of life. The international community will be forced to respond to the ensuing humanitarian disaster and to join their voices to the demands from the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran for a settlement of the armed conflict through intra-Yemeni political talks, identical to the intra-Syrian talks," Dolgov said.

Otherwise the ranks of Al-Qaeda radicals and of the terrorist Islamic State will grow with the influx of thousands of Shi’ite rebels, who will begin to seize more oil-bearing territories of the Arabian Peninsula. In any case the Storm of Resolve is doomed to fail," he concluded.

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