Yemen: A Saudi Problem
While the world is starring at Syria and Iraq for their fight against the Islamic State, another civil war on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula is vastly overlooked. The Yemeni Civil War has been the theatre of a proxy-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran for two years now but also brought Saudi interventionism to a whole new level. Saudi Arabia answered the call of Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi who had just been overturned by rebels from the Ansar Allah group (known as Houthi, green on the map) and launched, on 26 March 2015, Operation Decisive Storm. This operation, which lasted 4 weeks, targeted Yemeni air defence forces and destroyed most of the Yemeni Air Force (aircraft, radars and SAMs). 2'300 sorties were carried out and successfully disabled Yemeni air defences and isolated the country from Iranian support. Following this operation, Saudi Arabia and its coalition composed of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, immediately launched Operation Restoring Hope. Still lasting to this day, Operation Restoring Hope targeted Houthi infrastructures and logistics as well as former Yemeni military bases and airfields. Saudi Arabia and the UAE also sent troops on the ground which landed in Aden in July 2015 as part of Operation Golden Arrow. Forces loyal to president Hadi (red on the map) slowly gained some ground over the Houthi.
During this last decade, the RSAF (Royal Saudi Air Force) received a lot of high-tech and last generation weaponry and aircraft. It is however important to note that, with less modern means, the UAE was much more successful in its air war over Yemen than the RSAF, despite contributing to only 20% of the coalition (50% for the RSAF). After massive spendings, the Saudis still lacked experience, tactics and competence, unlike the UAE which had participated in air strikes over Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia achieved its main objectives in Yemen: denying Iran an access to a strategic position in the Arabian Peninsula and eliminating the threat of Yemeni ballistic missiles.
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