Saudi border war with Yemeni Shia

24 11 2009

by Patrick Vibert

Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the Yemeni government, is waging a quiet and fierce war against Shia tribesmen located near their shared border in the Saada region of northwest Yemen.

Tensions have been building for months, but the conflict erupted after two Saudi border guards were allegedly murdered by Yemeni Houthis in a cross-border raid in the remote region of southwestern Saudi Arabia. Since then the Saudi air force has been pounding  Houthi rebel sites across the border in Yemen.

The rebels have criticized the Yemeni government for allowing Saudi Arabia to violate Yemen’s territorial sovereignty, but the government likely welcomes the help from the Saudis as it struggles to gain the upper hand in the situation.

As a result of the bombardments, thousands of Yemeni citizens from the region have been displaced and are now caught between the Yemeni Army, the Houthi rebels, and the Saudi air force in a conflict with a high potential for escalation.

The Houthis are part of Yemen’s Shia, which make up about 40% of that countries total population. The rebels accuse the  government of sectarianism, while the Yemeni government considers the conflict political in nature.

While the Houthi rebels are clashing  with the Yemeni military, and Saudi officials claim that they are only trying to keep the conflict from spilling over onto Saudi soil. The Saudi-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat has reported that nearly 1000 Houthi rebels have been taken prisoner by the Saudi military.

For years the conflict had been between the rebels and the Yemeni government, but recently the escalation of violence has led to Saudi involvement, with Iran and even Al-Quaida being dragged into the mix.  As a result, the conflict has taken a more regional tone, with both Iranian and Saudi governments trading barbs.

The Saudi’s accuse Iran of aiding the Houthis in a way to gain a foothold in another country that is politically dominated by Sunni, such as it did in Iraq and Lebanon. Tehran has denied aiding the rebels, but has expressed concerned for the safety of the Shia in that country.

This week, protests erupted in Tehran in support of the Houthis, as hundreds of students reportedly rallied in front of the Saudi and Yemeni embassies there.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been particularly frosty in recent years, as Riyadh grows increasingly weary of expanding Persian influence in the region.

 

 

With the decision of Mahmoud Abbas not to seek reelction and the apparent dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, the situation is entering a new phase.

End of PA

Hamas Quiet

Quote about Jews living under persecution for 4000 years

Clear that Israel has no intention of leaving the Palestinians enough territory to make a state

Obama fails, is called out by Nasrallah

World may still be concerned, but is fed up with Palestinian leadership

What awaits: passive acceptance, or third intifada?

Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the Yemeni government, is waging a quiet and fierce war against Shiaa tribesmen located near their shared border. Tensions have been building for months, but the conflict erupted after a Saudi policeman was murdered by Yemeni Houthis in a cross-border raid in the remote region of southern Saudi Arabia.

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