Yemen War Now is MBS’ Quagmire: NYT

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

 Source
July 19, 2019
The war in Yemen is lodged in a stalemate and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s fight has become a quagmire, the New York Times reported.

“From the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, it was Prince Mohammed’s war,” David D. Kirkpatrick said in his article entitled: “Yemen Has Been a Saudi Prince’s War. Now It’s His Quagmire.”

“Four years later, the war is lodged in a stalemate and Prince Mohammed’s signature fight has become a quagmire, diplomats and analysts say. A steep pullout by his key ally, the United Arab Emirates, they say, raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s ability to lead the war on its own,” Kirkpatrick said in the article published on Thursday.

The Saudi crown prince, who is well known as MBS, is now hoping Washington will help make up the difference with new American military support, the writer said citing diplomats with knowledge of the conversations.

But congressional opposition to the war makes that highly unlikely, leaving the prince with some potentially humbling choices.

“It hurts him because it injures his credibility as a successful leader,” said Kristin Smith Diwan, an analyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute. His personal investment, she said, could motivate him to search for some partial accommodation he could label a victory.

“Not many people in Saudi Arabia feel this is a wise investment for the future,” she added.

While the Saudis have fought almost entirely from the air, the Emiratis, led virtually every successful ground advance, according to Kirkpatrick.

As a result, analysts said, the Emirati exit makes the prospect of a Saudi military victory even more remote.

“Saudi Arabia can prevent peace from breaking out and can bleed the Houthis on a never-ending northern front,” Michael Knights, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued in a report this week. “But only the U.A.E. had the military potency and local allied forces to credibly threaten defeat for the Houthis.”

But the Saudis cannot easily withdraw either, partly because of the kingdom’s 1,100-mile border with Yemen, Kirkpatrick said.

“The Saudis don’t have the luxury of walking out of Yemen,” said Farea al-Muslimi, chairman of the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, a research institute in the Yemeni capital. “There is no way to flee.”

Some Western and United Nations diplomats hope that the Emirati withdrawal will push Prince Mohammed to negotiate a deal with the Houthis, potentially trading an end to the Saudi-led air campaign for some measure of security on the long border. He already faces mounting criticism in Congress and across the West for over the war’s devastating impact on the civilians, according to Kirkpatrick.

Source: NYT

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