Monday, March 30, 2015

The Allied (almost) Arab Combat League

"Iran for the first time in a very long time is basically seeing a counterattack. The Iranians were not expecting that Gulf monarchies, like Saudi Arabia, would be so bold as to confront this head on."
"[The Saudi-led airstrikes] tore to pieces their game plan with regard to the Houthis, and they are not going to accept that."
Unnamed Gulf official
Explosion in Sanaa, Yemen An explosion lights up the skies over the Faj Attan neighbourhood of Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, March 30, 2015. (Hisham Omeisy / YouTube)

And, so it is that a two-day Arab summit ended with the agreement among the 22 member-states present that Iran has a second thought coming if it believes it can just continue to disrupt normalcy in Arab states. First Lebanon, then Syria, followed by Iraq, and now Yemen; Bahrain next on the agenda? The Arab League will not have it. With some exceptions, of course; neither Syria nor Iraq are expected to join their Arab brethren, preferring to cleave to non-Arab Shiite Muslim Iran.

Otherwise the consensus is all for blacklisting Iran by bombing its latest proxy into a cowering corner of surrender. Arab unity is (almost) unanimous, no upstart Persian revolutionary zeal is acceptable on the way to a commanding lead in the Middle East and North Africa. Nabil Elaraby, Arab League chief labelled Iran for what it is, a troublemaker "in many nations".

A joint Arab defence force is to be deployed at the request of any Arab nation that might face a threat to its national security. Loosely based, one supposes on NATO. They will have a multi-purpose agenda in preparation to combat terrorist groups. Which many of them have supported, but unfortunately those terrorist groups have a miserable penchant for turning on the very governments that had initially supported them.

The Saudis and their Gulf allies feel rather concerned that an agreement between Washington and Tehran will make them even more vulnerable to an even more entitled Iran, raising its profile and influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain (with its Shiite majority population). The Yemen air campaign and an allied task force is seen as empowering in pushing back Iran's bullying agenda.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir has stated that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia recognized as terrorist proxies for the Islamic Republic of Iran, and currently fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad's military, are also actively fighting alongside the Houthis. The Saudi-led campaign has one goal, to protect Yemen's "legitimate government from a group that is allied and supported by Iran and Hezbollah".

Fire is seen at a military site after it was hit by an air strike on the Faj Attan mountain of Sanaa on Saturday. Fire is seen at a military site after it was hit by an air strike on the Faj Attan mountain of Sanaa on Saturday. Photo: Reuters/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Forces loyal to Yemen's former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, are also targeted for air strikes. And an eventual ground force invasion. Riad Yassin, Yemen's foreign minister spoke of the air campaign, codenamed Operation Decisive Storm (derivative of the American Desert Storm invasion of Iraq), that has succeeded in preventing Houthi use of the weapons seized from the legitimate Yemeni military.

Saudi fears of missile attacks against their cities neighbouring Yemen's borders are now relieved. And the airstrikes have also succeeded in halting Iran's supply line to the rebels. "This is a comprehensive operation and [any ground offensive] will depend on the calculation of the military", said Mr. Yassin of a campaign meant to continue until the Hoiuthi "withdraw and surrender their weapons" and a unified Yemen emerges, according to Mr. Elaraby.

According to Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmed bin Hasan Asiri, airstrikes have hit Houthi targets, including air defences ammunition depots and the heavy weapons and vehicles the rebels looted from government forces. As for the combined Arab League force proving their mettle; it will be interesting to see how they fare in ground combat given that apart from putting down an Shia insurrection in Bahrain in their version of the Arab Spring, few have combat experience and combat readiness.

It would be a pity, since they've finally decided it is their responsibility to defend themselves in a combined pan-Arab unity move against projected aggression from Persia, were they to turn out as ineffective and pitifully useless as the African Union forces. But time will tell.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet