THE reactionary Saudi regime – the pride and joy of the United States and UK ruling classes that have armed it to the teeth – and its allies in the Gulf are about to learn a lesson that its US-UK sponsors should have been able to explain to it.
This is that it is easy to leap into a war, but that it may well prove to be much harder to get out of than it was to get into, and that the tendency could well be to get deeper and deeper into the quagmire, until the contradictions that are sharpened explode under the feudal princes that rule Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.
Yesterday, Saudi-led warplanes hit Huthi rebels in Yemen’s third city, Taez, after the Huthis seized a key army headquarters, just hours after Riyadh had announced a halt to the air campaign.
The renewed strikes hit rebel forces inside the 35th Armoured Brigade headquarters which they seized from its loyalist garrison in heavy fighting.
The Saudi planes also hit a gathering of the rebels and their allies near the city’s central prison.
The Saudi attack took place despite the fact that the rebel forces had just freed the defence minister, a brother of the exiled president, and a general they had been holding since late March.
The Saudi-led coalition announced it was halting its four-week air war in Yemen earlier on Tuesday, but ground fighting between Huthi rebels and government loyalists supported by Al-Qaeda, raged on in a blow to US-led calls for renewed peace talks.
The air strikes stopped at midnight (2100 GMT Tuesday) but residents of Yemen’s second city, Aden, and third city, Taez, reported no let-up in fighting between the rebels and supporters of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The World Health Organisation says at least 944 people have been killed in Yemen since March 19 and there were calls from all sides for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid.
The Saudi rulers had said that the strikes, which it had launched on March 26 as the Huthis closed in on Hadi’s last refuge in Aden, had removed threats to Saudi Arabia and its neighbours by destroying the rebels’ air and missile capabilities.
But the rebels and their allies remain in control of the capital Sana’a and swathes of the country and Hadi is still in exile in Riyadh, where he fled when the raids began.
The coalition had said an air and naval blockade would remain in place to prevent any arms deliveries to the rebels that might threaten the vital shipping lanes off Yemen or neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Washington has already sent an aircraft carrier to the region to protect the key sea oil route from Asia and the Gulf to Europe and to monitor naval activity by Iran.
Riyadh has accused Iran of arming the rebels in a bid to establish a proxy on its doorstep, something strongly denied by Tehran, which offered its help in relaunching peace talks.
The Huthis have been in conflict with Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch, regarded up till now by Washington as its most dangerous foe in the area, but now transformed into a reliable ally of the Saudi-Qatari-US axis.
The United States was forced to withdraw its troops from a Yemeni air base from which it had been targeting rebels with drone strikes and had hailed the end of the Saudi-led air campaign.
Its statement on the Saudi ceasefire the National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said: ‘The United States welcomes today’s announcement by the government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners of the conclusion of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen.’
Baskey spoke too soon!
Meanwhile, from his refuge in Saudi Arabia, Hadi thanked the coalition for its support and spoke of returning from exile. ‘We will soon return to our homeland, to Aden and Sana’a,’ he said.
However, the prospect is that since air power has not been able to do the job, ground forces will be required, not just Saudi, but Egyptian and Gulf State forces.
These will not be able to defeat the Yemeni masses and the Huthis. But such an intervention will certainly intensify the crisis of the Saudi, Gulf and Egyptian regimes and undermine feudalism in the region.
It is certain that the mass of the Egyptian workers who brought down both Mubarak and Mursi will not stand for intervention into the Yemen to prop up the Saudi Royal family.