I waited for the news from more sources, the news that I got yesterday was too ridiculous. Even now, when I look at the ABC headline ‘Houthi rebels claim to have captured ‘thousands’ of Saudi troops in Yemen border fight‘ I am willing to ignore it. The force required to do that requires full and open cooperation of the IRGC, in addition, it would have required no less than 500 troops heavily armed. The news however kept on going and when I was treated to a video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPa6HUxy11w) we see a lot of lose shoots, but there is no real evidence of the scope of the matter. That view is supported by the BBC, who gives us (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49866677) “The video shows an attack on armoured vehicles, but there is so far no verification of the Houthi claim of a major military success“, as well as “But the video broadcast on Sunday instead shows what appear to be rebels firing at vehicles on a road. This is followed by footage of several burnt-out vehicles, as well as assorted light weaponry laid out on the ground and a group of men not in military uniforms marching down a dirt road“. It is presentation, yet not confirmation, claims we have seen often enough from Iran and from players like Hezbollah. And in all the Houthi response: “He said the evidence of the attack could not be shown for security reasons” reads just like it should be regarded as, as a joke!
Yes, traps and ambushes will get you some result, however the true victory over 2,000 men like that would have required Saudi Arabia to ignore the wisdom of Julius Caesar, who stated 2,000 years ago: “The first rule, whether you are engaged in war or not is to install defences against enemy retaliation“, that essential first would never have allowed for such a victory without hundreds of well-trained Iranian troops to support the Houthi soldiers out there. There are basic settings no matter where you are on the planet where an ambush would not have been prevented, but overall the damage would have remained limited.
It seems to me that the Houthi forces have been briefed by Iran to wage open war into Saudi Arabia, so no matter what story Yehia Saree (spokesperson for Houthi forces) gives us, unless he has video of a lot better quality revealing a lot more factual evidence, the only thing we see was an optional strike against a few vehicles using 2-3 RPG-7’s.
That would fit into the brief of Houthi activity and for those 500 kills, until the names are verified and checked, it could have been a mere mass murder site of Yemeni civilians, and that too remains an option. It is however a new step and it does not matter whether the kills were Yemeni civilians or Saudi citizens, the actions by the Houthis would not have been possible without serious Iranian support, that part is too often muddied away behind the screens. If we would have hi-res images of the weapons, there is a likelihood that we will see weapons that Yemen never had, in addition the video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZw5taiYMqw) shows us (at 3:25) an ambush by 4 soldiers on an armoured vehicle, whilst no RPG’s were fired, whilst no firefight was going on, at best a few machine guns firing at an armoured vehicle, impact that the armoured vehicle might not even have noticed. Even as the ‘expert’ seems to believe it is confirmation, the shoots I see are separate takes of different moments, it is propaganda editing, if this was successful, we would get the full uncut version complete with brain matter on the dashboard. That is not happening, one reason is that the Iranian troops are not to be shown, the other shoots shows one vehicle in one shot and three vehicles with clear scorch marks from RPG impact, the Russian RPG-7 is merely the most likely weapon used (decent availability all over the Middle East). In addition, the ‘troop’ movement at 4:18 gives no evidence of any level that there are Saudi troops, optionally Saudi citizens, most likely groups of Yemeni civilians trying to get away from it all. The same is to be said from the group shot at 4:27, the chaos makes it most likely to be civilians and we see merely 2-3 dozen, for thousands to be moved the need for a huge military force would have been essential and nothing of the sort is visible.
What is a given that no matter how this plays out, the Saudi Government has a clear premise and as I personally see it a right to strike hard. And on a personal note, I would advise Saudi marksman to switch to the Accuracy International AX .338, good bang for the buck and it allows the marksman to efficiently thin the Houthi herd between 500-800 meters. OK, that might have been uncalled for, but you have to consider that there is a difference between presentation and war and it is time to give those ground troops more than a ‘packaged present’ from a plane. And if I can push forward British commerce at the same time, I will (Australia has zero quality long range rifles made in Australia), so I feel good about that element too.
Yet this is still madness and as such using the hit song from the band with the same name One Step Beyond applies, all the actions after the attack on the two Aramco sites are a clear path to open war, I believe that this was not an accident, I personally believe that Iran is actually scared at present, but their fear is founded on how many allies would step to the side of Saudi Arabia, this is a serious attempt to find fact in a sea of facts and fiction and Iran is uncertain at present, it knows that it can only lose, but the size of losses increases dramatically with every ally that Saudi Arabia gains in this open conflict. As the opposition against Saudi actions dwindles, so does the confidence of Iran and as their Nuclear deal is now at an end with 99% certainty, Iran has no carrot to use against the EU, it now has a much larger problem, because the oil impact took whatever sympathy vote they had in the EU away and now they need to see the state of affairs, how to prolong their options and as they realise that the west in general has no further interest in catering to Iran in any way, shape or form, the entire matter becomes a hazard play for Iran, that is as I see it behind it all, and as the NATO navy (UK and US) are now in the Sea of Dammam (Persian Gulf), the Iranian fleet options are almost completely out of the window and any actions will now add the UK and the US on the side of Saudi Arabia and they are not ready for that, if the IDF adds to that (because they have had more than enough of the IRGC) the entire matter comes to blow and Iran ends up having to concede in every field, moreover they will only be in a place to publicly admit to defeat, and after so many years the population will demand a massive national overhaul, which suits most players, but not the Iranian clergy, or the Iranian defence forces.
One step beyond is also what we are willing to do on removing the risk that is Iran, the bulk of all instability has been due to Iran and one of several; tools they have wielded: Hezbollah, they too will have a larger problem, with Iran out of the picture their actions stop and right quick, they will cry loudly on TV to get any UN deal whilst the IDF is not really in a mood to give them any options at all. These actions will lead to a larger stability to the Middle East with Saudi Arabia at the head of that table (which has seemingly been the best course of action for forever). It is time to strap on momentum towards resolving issues, not to maintain some balance of instability, we have had too many years (read: decades) of that.
The issue of the attack on Saudi grounds is still out in the open. There are disputed lands and there are non-disputed lands. Until there is a clear map on where the attacks are, we will see a clear path on how Saudi Arabia could and should respond. The harsh reality is that talks with the Houthi forces is without any hope of success, there are millions of Yemeni who have suffered on that and how we see the actions is up to all of us, yet to see what comes next, there is an interesting video that gives a really good timeline (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veMFCFyOwFI). Yet we see an underline, it gives positive visibility to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it used its wealth to create a strong infrastructure via roads making the nation almost completely reachable, giving them a huge opportunity to let the population grow, a part that always seemed missing in Iran (beyond Tehran) as I personally saw it.
Now that the forces come to blow Iran is rightfully nervous (perhaps outright scared), no matter how brave a face they show, even now the outright support that Saudi Arabia is getting is making Iran even more nervous and to avert utter disaster they need to see if they get any real support (beyond Russia and Turkey), in this Russia might not be willing to get involved for the mere reason that its tactical position increases if this comes to blows, whilst the EU and US spend funds in this region, Russia could decide to stabilise their margin to a larger degree, and Russia is in it for the long game, a tactic that Iran no longer has at its disposal, as such it is my personal believe that Iran is trying to see how far it can go now and again they are reusing the tools at their disposal, which in this case are the Houthi forces in Yemen.