Monday, November 23, 2009

House of Saud goes to war

"Indeed, Saudi Arabia has fought every "ism" that has sought to dominate the Middle East, including Nasser's pan-Arabism, communism, and today's Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the terrorism of al-Qaida and the Shi'ism of Iran. The tools it relied upon were oil money and Wahhabi Islam. During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent more than $75bn on the propagation of Wahhabi doctrine, funding schools, mosques, and charities across the Islamic world in an effort to bolster its influence. A large share of these resources was reserved for its back garden, Yemen. Thousands of schools were established, covering every city and village in Yemen. Saudi Arabia created in Yemen a strong Wahhabi current that was politically and ideologically loyal to the ruling al-Saud. Indeed, Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, used imported Wahhabism to defeat his domestic opponents – first the communists, then the Houthis – despite being a Zaidi Shia...Both the Saudi and Yemeni governments have also claimed that there are strong links between the Houthis and al-Qaida, thereby gaining American support. But the Houthis are not terrorists. Abdul Malik al-Houthi, a leader of the insurgency in Yemen's Sa'dah region, said this month that the Houthis, who are Zaidi Shia, are ideologically and strategically antithetical to Wahhabi Sunni al-Qaida...But the Saudis are unlikely to succeed militarily in Yemen. Yemen's army of 700,000 could not suppress the Houthi rebellion, despite five attempts since 2004. Now they are leaving Saudi Arabia's untested army of 200,000 men to do the job for them. And, while the Saudis are currently relying on their air force, a full-scale land battle will have to follow – on the same harsh terrain that helped defeated Nasser's battle-hardened troops in the 1960s."