Home Global Village U.S forces deployed to assist Saudi Arabia for countering Houthi threat

U.S forces deployed to assist Saudi Arabia for countering Houthi threat

Sending US ground forces to the border is a marked escalation of Western assistance to target Houthi fighters, even though there is no evidence that the Houthis directly threaten the U.S.; they are an unsophisticated militant group with no operations outside Yemen and have not been classified by the US government as a terrorist group. The alleged U.S. move is contrary to previous statements of the Pentagon according to which the US role in the conflict was limited to 'refueling and logistics'.

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News Analysis |

The US support for Arab military coalition, currently carrying out bombing sorties over the Houthi rebels in Yemen, has moved passed the logistical and advisory phase. The United States has acknowledged the presence of a small contingent of its elite Green Berets in Saudi Arabia. Purpose of the presence of the US commandoes on Saudi soil has been described, by Pentagon, as imparting the modern training of surveillance and combat to the Saudi forces.

Since 2015, when President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, a key US ally to curb the menace of Al-Qaeda from spreading further into Yemen, was forcibly ousted from office by Houthi rebels. Having their roots embedded in the Shiite school of thought, they were backed and supported by Iran, a Shia Muslim state who is known for the hostility and deride it has for the United States and Israel.

Saudi Arabia has been constantly bombing Houthi strongholds in Yemen which have frequently resulted in the loss of civilian lives. Recently, it was extensively reported across the media worldwide that a Saudi led coalition strike has hit a wedding ceremony in Yemen, killing at least 20 people.

The presence of US Special Forces operatives inside Saudi Arabia, assisting in Operation Deceive Storm, speak a lot about the cordial military and economic relations which both the countries are having at the moment.

Human rights organizations have been repeatedly pointing out to the humanitarian crisis which is prevalent in Yemen due to lack of food and medical supplies. In response to Saudi belligerence, Houthis have responded with the shooting of ballistic missiles over Saudi border aiming to hit high-value targets in Riyadh.

Over the course of the 3-year war, multiple Houthi missiles have been intercepted by Saudi Air Defense. The latest one was shot down above the sky of Riyadh which was enough to trigger Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to call for additional US support for its operations against Houthis.

The request was responded promptly by the Trump administration, sending a batch of its highly-skilled commandoes along the Saudi border with Yemen. These commandoes help their Saudi counterparts in using the technology, such as drones to monitor the porous border along with identifying and destroying Houthi launching installments which they use to shoot missiles at Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Yemen conflict: US cuts arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The Shift in the US Policy

Previous United States administration, under President Barak Obama, criticized the Saudi use of force in Yemen. The concerns highlighted had mostly to deal with civilian causalities and brutal use of force against a minor foe. But as soon as President Trump took oval office, he pledged full support for Saudi Arabia’s plans vis a vis Yemen.

Having their roots embedded in the Shiite school of thought, they were backed and supported by Iran, a Shia Muslim state who is known for the hostility and deride it has for the United States and Israel.

It has been very helpful for US economy, firms and people relating to the manufacturing of high-grade military equipment.  Saudi Arabia has ordered arms and fighter jets worth billions of dollars which subsequently caters the demands of US workforce which is another key challenge for Trump administration. The presence of US Special Forces operatives inside Saudi Arabia, assisting in Operation Deceive Storm, speak a lot about the cordial military and economic relations which both the countries are having at the moment.

Limiting AL-Qaeda and ISIS inside Yemen

So far, the US involvement in the conflict between Yemen and Saudi Arabia has been primarily due to its relations with the kingdom and countering the existential threat of extremism inside Yemen. The United States of America, as a country, has nothing to fear from a group of loosely trained, archaically equipped tribal Houthi fighters sitting thousands of miles away from US soil. The real threat which has been present in Yemen for a very long time is Al-Qaida and Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Al-Qaida suffered a major blow to its cohesion, as a systematized organization, after Osama Bin Laden was killed by commando action of US Navy Seals in Abbottabad. But Yemen is a place where the threat of Al-Qaeda is still very much alive, complimented by the presence of enemy-to-all ISIS. The US has been sponsoring many convert operations, via proxies, inside Yemen to assassinate key figures from both these organizations. The unrest in Yemen is precisely what could be termed as the ideal breeding ground for global terrorism.

Previous United States administration, under President Barak Obama, criticized the Saudi use of force in Yemen. The concerns highlighted had mostly to deal with civilian causalities and brutal use of force against a minor foe.

Therefore, in order to uproot the evil of extremism, US must be willing to see the end of Yemen conflict soon to focus on secondary, but crucial, objectives. Though the United States of America has nothing personal against the Houthi rebels, as it has not yet declared them as terrorists, but still having an Iran backed militia ruling in Yemen is not in the interest of neither United States nor its ally Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Saudi Arabia announces $2 billion bailout for Yemen government

UK’s involvement in the Yemen conflict

UK government says its heart ‘goes out’ to relatives of Yemen wedding airstrike victims but refuses to halt arms sales to Saudi

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