Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (nsnbc) – The Saudi-led, Arab League endorsed coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen, on Saturday, launched a third consecutive day of air strikes against Houthi brigades. The air strikes were coordinated with artillery barrages at Houthi positions in the border region between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The air strikes came also after Saudi Arabia had called upon non-combatants to leave areas near Houthi position and calls to leave, if possible, the al-Sadda district of Ibb in central Yemen. Sources in Yemen report about over 100 air strikes within the last three days.
The number of air strikes could not be independently verified by Yemeni or by official Saudi sources. Air strikes were also carried out against the runway of the airport in the city of Sanaa.
The Arab League endorsed coalition is in part backed by the non-Arab League members France, the UK and the USA. Houthi brigades, for their part, have some ground support provided by several hundred Iranian “military advisers”.
The coalition aims at re-establishing control by the still legal, although not necessarily “legitimate” government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The offensive was launched on March 26. On Friday Saleh offered a five-day truth, beginning on May 12, to facilitate humanitarian relief as well as direct or back-channel negotiations about a peaceful settlement. It is so far uncertain whether leaders of the Houthi militants agreed to the truce.
The governments and media of directly or indirectly involved parties to the conflict are largely touting the conflict as sectarian, with Saudi Arabia arguing that the Houthi could act as proxy for Iran. Ironically, the conflict has not only strengthened the position of the Houthi but the position of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
An analysis entitled “Yemen’s Fog of War is getting thicker by the Day”, written by Christof Lehmann, argues that the fate of the people of Yemen is that the poorest Arab nation is based at the Arabian Sea and two of the world’s three most strategically important waterways. That is, the Bab al-Mandeb Strait that is vital for traffic through the Suez Canal and at the Persian / Arab Gulf.
Iran, the USA, Russia, China, Egypt, several EU member States and others have had a naval presence in the region for years. This presence increased under the banner of “anti-piracy operations” with regards to Somalia and it increased further as the conflict in Yemen develops into a geopolitical chess game about control over, arguably, 1/3 of the world’s shipped energy supplies including liquefied natural gas and oil.
Lehmann argues that the conflict in Yemen today is a continuum of the cold-war era civil war in Yemen that was touted as capitalist vs. socialist conflict, that the discourse is today based along sectarian divides, but that the fundamental geopolitical and strategic objectives are equivalent to that of the old, and arguably, the new cold war.
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