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In Yemen, Saudi Arabia Takes the Path of Pragmatism

Dec 20, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
Tribesmen loyal to the Houthis ride in the back of a vehicle during a gathering to mobilize more fighters on Nov. 1, 2016, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen.

Tribesmen loyal to the Houthis ride in the back of a vehicle during a gathering to mobilize more fighters on Nov. 1, 2016, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. With Iran proper the greater threat, Saudi Arabia is hoping to wind down the war against the Houthis in Yemen.

(MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)

After close to half a decade involved in Yemen's conflict, Saudi Arabia appears to be changing tack. No longer as determined to vanquish the Houthis, the desert kingdom is increasingly trying to protect itself economically and security-wise from a conflict that Riyadh cannot realistically hope to win militarily. In adjusting its strategy, Riyadh is now acknowledging that it will have to allow the Houthi rebels a permanent place in Yemen's political future, even if this leaves the Yemen conflict unresolved to Riyadh's liking, opens the door to semi-permanent Iranian influence on the Arabian Peninsula and -- most crucially for the Saudis -- fails to give them the peace they crave on their southwestern front....

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