“Saudi Prestige Suffers a Blow in Yemen Fight”
The New York Times, April 3, 2015, p.A1
“Two months after ascending to the throne, King Salman of Saudi Arabia bet his prestige as a new leader on rallying his Arab allies for a military campaign to save Yemen from an Iranian takeover — all under the direction of his son, the new defense minister and chief of the royal court. The results a week later showed just how big a risk they took. The Houthis, portrayed as Iranian proxies by the Saudis but few others, have continued their advances despite nine nights of Saudi-led airstrikes. On Thursday, Houthi fighters captured a presidential palace in the southern port of Aden, killed a Saudi soldier in a skirmish at the border and wounded five others. Islamist militants, meanwhile, capitalized on the chaos caused by the airstrikes to free a leader of Al Qaeda and hundreds of others from prison and to partly seize control of a crucial city in the south. Regional militias are battling one another with little thought of the exiled president whom the Saudis had hoped to restore. A week of clashes in Aden have left bodies lying in the streets. The state has collapsed, and aid groups warn of an escalating humanitarian crisis as the military campaign has shut down airports and seaports; worsened shortages of food, water and medicine; and killed scores of unarmed civilians, including internal refugees. … For some who had opposed the Houthis, the bombing campaign seems to be turning their anger against Saudi Arabia, instead. … The stakes may be highest for the Saudi king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the king named both defense minister and chief of the royal court. The Saudi government has not disclosed Prince Mohammed’s precise age, but he is believed to be around 30. He was one of the only men in his generation of the royal family to be educated entirely in Saudi Arabia, with no schooling abroad. The Saudi news media has played up Prince Mohammed’s role as the architect and overseer of the Yemen campaign, turning it into a pivotal test. … American officials said they supported the Saudi campaign mainly because of a lack of alternatives.”
Quickie analysis: Bad things can happen when you let an untested 30-year-old start an unnecessary war on a false pretext. Surprise, surprise.