Contributor Perspectives

Saudi Arabia Makes a Strategic Miscalculation

Hilal Khashan
Board of Contributors
Nov 10, 2017 | 10:15 GMT
Saudi troops guard the Yemeni border with Jizan province in October 2017.

More than two and a half years in, Saudi Arabia's goals for its air campaign in Yemen look increasingly unrealistic.


Saudi Arabia seems to have bitten off more than it can chew in Yemen. On March 26, 2015, the kingdom launched Operation Decisive Storm, a broad Arab-Islamic initiative ostensibly aimed at reinstating the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi, whom insurgents had forced from the capital, Sanaa, a month earlier. More than two and a half years on, Saudi Arabia is no closer to its goal, embroiled in a war that it can't win. How did the country wind up making such a strategic blunder? Going into the conflict, its leaders were well aware of the steep odds against the operation's success -- of Yemen's unconquerable terrain and intractable tribal machinations. The Saudis tend to equivocate in their explanations of what drove them to intervene in the war-torn country in the first place. But a look at the kingdom's history and founding ideology offers insight into Riyadh's dilemma in...

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