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.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

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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