Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 19th, 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Scramble for an Exit Strategy in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s Scramble for an Exit  Strategy in Yemen

The Saudi Arabia-led alliance’s military intervention in Yemen has not only failed in its objective to rout the Houthi rebels, but the kingdom finds itself in a position in which it might be forced to capitulate.
Saudi Arabia has failed its primary objectives of defeating the Houthis and restabilising the internationally recognised government in Yemen.
“The Houthis have proven to be a formidable fighting force. Saudi Arabia does not have a comparable ground game that can match their adversaries’,” Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, told Al Jazeera.
This reality is far from what Saudi Arabia had initially anticipated when it entered into the war via Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015.
“Saudi Arabia thought it would win this war via a bombing campaign, and it would all be over in a few weeks. We have now entered the seventh year of this war with no clear end in sight,” Hashemi said.
In fact, the Houthis have been on the advance ever since, and Saudi Arabia is in a position where it is implausible to become the war’s victor. The Houthis control the capital Sanaa and large parts of Yemen’s northwest.
The city of Marib, which is of pivotal strategic importance as it functions as the country’s oil and gas production hub and possesses crucial infrastructure, is also constantly under attack.
Besides these territorial gains, the Houthis have also repeatedly shown they can attack infrastructure in Saudi territory with drones.
However, Houthi rebels are well aware of their current position and leverage. As it stands, Saudi Arabia and its allies could potentially be forced to withdraw without the Houthis having to make any concessions. Hence, their initial rejection of the proposal did not come as a surprise, particularly as it offered “nothing new”.
The latter is an accurate statement, according to Steven Hurst, department head of history, politics and philosophy at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
“The peace plan they have put forward now is a revised version of one they advanced in 2020 rather than anything new,” said Hurst.
Nonetheless, the Houthis’ chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdulsalam, stated his willingness for further talks with Riyadh, Washington, and Muscat to facilitate a peace agreement. (Aljazeera)