BrothersJudd Blog: THE MIGHTY SAUDI WAR MACHINE...:
. . . brilliant!
"For all the bluster of Saudi generals who vow to lead their troops into Sana'a if necessary, the campaign now has more limited goals, says the confidant. Saudi Arabia wants to send Iran and its regional clients a message that it will resist their regional push. With Iran holding sway through its proxies in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, Saudi Arabia is loth to let a fourth capital, particularly one in its back yard, go Iran's way. But the campaign is now mostly about blunting the capabilities of the Houthis (a militia of Zaydis, a splinter Shiite sect concentrated in Yemen's north) and their ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who until Saudi Arabia engineered his removal in 2012 was the Arab world's longest-reigning ruler.
Together the Houthis and Mr Saleh make a formidable force. Whereas the former are guerrillas who model themselves on Lebanon's Hizbullah, the latter commands Yemen's Republican army, which has been fighting wars (including against the Houthis) for 25 years. Together they wield an arsenal of tanks, ballistic missiles and, at one point, even the odd fighter-jet. Houthi fighters head to battle carrying charms, such as keys and visas to paradise. Their preachers on satellite television call for re-establishing Zaydi rule across the border, not just over the three border provinces the Al Sauds seized in 1934 but even over Mecca farther north.
That is implausible given Saudi Arabia's air power and network of allies. But some Saudis ask how their overfed armed forces would fare should battle-hardened Houthi fighters make even a limited push across the border. It says much about Saudi trepidation that General Olyan limits himself to defending Saudi territory; he says his troops make no attempt to attack the Houthi heartland of Saada governorate, just across the frontier."
The lede comes from the spot on comment of Kaspar.
The House of Saud's military "superiority" is entirely technical. And once the money dries up, so will the technical. Iran is playing a very good game of Go, the House of Saud is limited to its childish understanding of checkers. While Saud would like to get out of Yemen, for all practical intents and purposes, it cannot. The Shia will consolidate Yemen if allowed, and Saud cannot allow that. On the other hand, Iran is expending little in this fight, while Saud is expending much. The House of Saud was a spartan band, back at the dawn of time when it was not fat and money rich. Now rich Saud is wont to throw money at every problem. But the money dwindles, and the House of Saud's power dwindles as well.
Iran is forcing Saud to spend money like the proverbial drunken sailor. The Saud's cargo cult military will eat up as much money as Iran desires, but will never deliver on its promises.
Whether Saud stays or leaves Yemen, Iran will continue to prosecute this proxy war, and open others, eventually engaging the House of Saud, and likely reducing it. Expect the next decade of Middle East history to rewrite much of what we have known up to now.
If the US is capable of coherent 21st century foreign policy strategy, we will find ways to undermine the House of Saud, while trading with, and democratizing Iran. This is a long game. We need to reduce the Iranian hardliners, and bring Iran to a modern economic, and political status. By doing so, the people of Iran will be able to soften the hardliners, and move away from Iranian nationalism, and hardline Islam to a more internationalist stance. At the same time we need to complete reduce the House of Saud, the Salafist, and the Wahhabist. This will allow a dramatic reduction in Islamic terrorism, and hopefully trigger a Reformation of Islam, and optimistically, the Enlightenment of Islam.
The long game is always a difficult tightrope walk, it is always worth it. This will also allow the American foreign policy establishment to finally cull its remaining Cold Warriors.
By my count that's a Win/Win/Win. Therefer!