by William Skink
While Americans obsess over 24/7 Trump impeachment coverage, the poorest nation in the Middle East, Yemen, has significantly altered the dynamics of global warfare and geopolitics.
After crippling Saudi Arabia’s oil processing capacity, the Houthis have reportedly destroyed three Saudi brigades in a conventional military offensive against the 3rd largest purchaser of military hardware in the world. From the link:
On Saturday 29 the Houthis and the Yemeni army conducted an incredible conventional attack lasting three days that began from within Yemen’s borders. The operation would have involved months of intelligence gathering and operational planning. It was a far more complex attack than that conducted against Aramco’s oil facilities. Initial reports indicate that the forces of the Saudi-led coalition were lured into vulnerable positions and then, through a pincer movement conducted quickly within Saudi territory, the Houthis surrounded the town of Najran and its outskirts and got the better of three Saudi brigades numbering in the thousands and including dozens of senior officers as well as numerous combat vehicles. This event is a game changer, leaving the US, Mike Pompeo and the Israelis and Saudis unable to lay the blame on Iran as all this took place a long way from Iran.
The large-scale operation was preceded by Yemeni rocket artillery targeting Jizan airport, with 10 missiles paralyzing any movements to and from the airport, including denying the possibility of air support for the encircled troops. The Houthis also hit the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh in a key operation that targeted Apache helicopters, forcing them to leave the area. Nearby military bases were also targeted so as to cut off any reinforcements and disrupt the chain of command. This led to the Saudi forces fleeing in disorganization. Images shown by the Houthis show a road in the middle of a valley on the outskirts of Najran with dozens of Saudi armored vehicles trying to flee while being attacked from both sides by Houthi RPGs together with heavy and light weapons. Visual confirmation of the debacle can be seen in the number of casualties as well as in the number of prisoners taken. Images show lines of Saudi prisoners walking under Yemeni guard towards prison camps. This is something extraordinary to behold: the Saudi army, the third largest purchaser of weapons in the world, getting comprehensively walloped by one of the poorest countries in the world. The numbers say it all: the Houthis were able to control more than 350 kilometers of Saudi territory. Given that the Saudi military budget is almost 90 billion dollars a year, this achievement is made all the more extraordinary.
Houthi forces employed drones, missiles, anti-aircraft systems, as well as electronic warfare to prevent the Saudis from supporting their troops with aviation or other means to assist their trapped men. Testimony from Saudi soldiers suggest that efforts to rescue them were half-hearted and of little effect. Saudi prisoners of war accuse their military leaders of having left them prey to their opponents.
This David vs. Goliath military showdown has done much more than undermine Saudi Arabia’s military prowess on the battlefield, it also calls into question America’s military dominance in the region. Considering the US already has a deplorable track record of military failures in the region, the fact that its client state can’t even stop the rag-tag Houthi rebels with purchased US military might from hitting them where it hurts, well, that says something.
To further this line of thinking, here’s Conn Hallinan in Counterpunch yesterday with a piece titled How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America’s Apple Cart. From the link:
Since 1945, Washington’s policy in the Middle East has been to control the world’s major energy supplies by politically and militarily dominating the Persian Gulf, which represents about 15 percent of the globe’s resources. The 1979 Carter Doctrine explicitly stated that the U.S. reserved the right to use military force in the case of any threat to the region’s oil and gas.
To that end, Washington has spread a network of bases throughout the area and keeps one of its major naval fleets, the Fifth, headquartered in the Gulf. It has armed its allies and fought several wars to ensure its primacy in the region.
And all that just got knocked into a cocked hat.
On top of this rapid deflation of US imperial influence we also stand on the precipice of an economic collapse that will dwarf the trouble that emerged in 2008. Here is how one trader frames it:
We’re in the middle of an existential crisis. We must be. That’s what central bank policies are telling us. After all the ECB cut rates to the lowest ever with its balance sheet being at record highs and expanding. The central bank of Australia today cut rates to their lowest levels ever. These are policies of absolute panic crisis levels are they not? The Fed is intervening in repo markets every single day barely able to keep the effective Fed funds rate at target. They’ve already cut rates twice and are already expanding their balance sheet. Without these interventions markets and the economy would fall apart. That’s the message that is being sent.
In any other time in history all these policy actions and their levels would be regarded as commensurate with a great crisis unfolding.
How is this not a crisis?
So far the military failures and inevitable economic crisis has been distant enough to effectively ignore. It won’t remain that way forever.