Photo From www.cnn.com When You Drop Bombs On Your Neighbors They Don't Like It.
The problem with surrogates is that they are always problematic, (ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc,) or stupid and half crazy, (Ukrainian Neo Nazis) or in the case of the army of Saudi Arabia weak and mostly useless.
The drawing above is like the Saudi camel herders who mistake themselves for royalty. They are like very fat sheep on very thin legs.
In the case of the “royals” of the Gulf, (unlike the sheep drawing above) they also have fat little hands suitable for counting money. And they do love to spend it. They like to spend it to hire mercenaries as well, like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Al Shabab, sometimes for themselves and sometimes under orders from their bosses and protectors, in Washington. Those mercenaries then go on to kill and turn life into a living hell for people in many parts of the world.
These fatted sheep of the Gulf also like to buy the very best weapons in the world, because it makes them feel as if they are not so weak and helpless. Then their American “friends” who sell them the weapons, teach them how to use them.
Now Obama has decided, (as per Part One of this series) that he is not going to tolerate a Houthis takeover in Yemen, because it might give too much power to Tehran. That in turn might threaten Washington’s control of shipping lanes through the Red Sea, then on to the Suez Canal and on to Europe. In order to prevent such a terrible occurence, Obama is in desperate need of a finding a surrogate army to take out those troublesome Houthis.
Putting a “president” Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi into place in Sana’a hadn’t worked. No one liked him, not at least enough to fight for him. And the Houthis are even kicking the backside of Al Qaeda who had found a comfortable place for operations in the chaos of Yemen.
So Obama’s brilliant idea was to send in the fatted sheep of the Gulf. On its face this idea doesn’t seem like one fraught with much hope. The Saudis do however, have many American military toys and some second rate training as to how to use them. And since the Houthis have no air force and no navy, it is bombs away and total control of the Yemeni skies for Riyadh.
But when we talk about sending in the Saudi sheep army, that is another matter entirely. Who do you think will win, poorly trained soldiers with no fighting experience and no motivation to go to Yemen to kill people, or the highly motivated and battle hardened Houthis, fighting for their country on their own soil?
Washington has already thought that one out. The answer, call in the Egyptians. They at least do have some idea of how to fight. But relative to Yemen, the Egyptians have been there, done that in their Civil War of 1962- 1970. Around 10 thousand Egyptian soldiers died in that campaign, in which there were only around 50 thousand of them to begin with. Yemen was for the Egyptians a hive of wasps which even Saudi air power now cannot diminish.
The people of Yemen are very nationalistic. And when attacked by outsiders, many who are not friendly to the Houthis, will if not bond with them, put their war on hold and attack the foreigners instead.
In the past when the Egyptians went to fight in Yemen it was under the banner of Nasser and his belief of Pan Arab-ism. Many Arabs in those days liked the idea of a single Arabia not divided into national entities that were mostly artificially created by their past colonial masters. So many Egyptians inspired by Nasser, may well have been willing to fight to, in their minds help their Arab brothers.
Today Egyptians would have no motivation whatsoever to fight in Yemen, other than the fact that the fat sheep in Riyadh will pay them to do it.
Paying is all the fat sheep of the Gulf can do. It is highly unlikely however, that the Egyptians want to become a mercenary army, especially once they start dying in numbers, which they will.
And for the Saudis an invasion of Yemen might well create push-back. Up until now the Houthis have not been into “terrorism”, content to win their fights on the battle field. But if Riyadh attacks they might well strike back within Saudi Arabia, in terms the fat sheep of the Gulf understand only too well.
After all as Foreign Policy Magazine puts it; “Saudi Arabia Has a Shiite Problem. Washington’s friends in Riyadh continue to oppress and marginalize 15 percent of the population. That’s going to lead to disaster.”
Or more correctly the Sh’ia of Saudi Arabia, who are actually sitting on much of its oil are a potential bonfire, only waiting for the Houthis of Yemen to light the match. And light the match they promise to do.
The takeaway for Obama is that sometimes proxy wars just won’t cut it. There is no reason whatsoever to equate the recent military gains of the Houthis, to an Iranian puppet state coming about in Yemen, in which Tehran will control shipping through the Red Sea. So it would at the least seem presumptuous of Washington, to panic and invade Yemen directly or through proxies.
But if Washington planners determine that the only way to go forward in Yemen is to invade the country to safe guard the strategic lands on the shores of the Bab-el-Mandeb – (the two-mile strait between Yemen and Africa), then it would be best not to send in children or amateurs to do the job.
If Washington wants to get a job done, Americans are going to have to step up to the plate and do it themselves.
We will all await Jeb Bush in 2016 to do just that. After all if there is a Bush in the White House, aren’t there also massive numbers of American boots on the ground in the Middle East?