SHAFAQNA – Recently retired General Ali Abdullah Al Ataf warns late on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia will attempt to draw in foreign military powers in Yemen in view of preserving its hegemony in southern Arabia.
Speaking to Shafaqna in exclusive comments Gen. Al Ataf noted, “Saudi Arabia has gathered its troops and military equipment at its southern border with Yemen. The move clearly indicates the kingdom is getting ready to intervene in Yemen. Should the Arab League on Thursday failed to deliver, we can assume King Salman will order his troops to move against Yemen in the highlands and his air force to target the southern city of Aden.”
He further added, “Yemen has always been Saudi Arabia’s crown jewel … Yemen is an absolutely key geo-strategic point and losing control over the oil route to a group allied to Iran would mean losing its status of regional super-power.”
Asked whether he expected the Saudis to overpower Yemen forces, he explained, “History has priven that Yemenis are not to be underestimated when it comes to military confrontation. The Ottomans tried and failed, the Egyptians in the 1960s came and lost. Saudi Arabia is a dying kingdom with an elite which has lost touch with reality. At the end of the day Yemenis will prevail.”
Sources in Washington have also confirmed that Saudi Arabia has amassed heavy military equipment and artillery near its border with Yemen, showing signs of an impending military intervention. “A formal go-ahead for the invasion might be given on Thursday by the Arab League,” said Tom Lynch an analyst based in New York.
A US official said that Washington has acquired intelligence about Saudi’s mobilization of weapons, but declined to provide further details on location of said weapons or the exact size of the force being deployed.Another US official referred to the move as “significant”, saying that the Saudis may be preparing air strikes to defend US-backed President Hadi in his southeastern refuge of Aden, where he fled to from Sana’a in February, as the Houthi continue a southward advance in the country.
Analyst Tom Lynch has theorized that former President Hadi has fallen from grace as far as the White House is concerned. “Hadi is no longer a political option. He lost all legitimacy when he resigned in January. President Obama is looking for new partners in Yemen and as long as the Houthis are willing to negotiate, the US will extend a hand to the faction. I think what we’re seeing in Yemen will really shape the Middle East for decades to come. New powers are rising and a new order is being set up.”