A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Houthi/Saudi Escalation, North and South

The Saudi-Houthi conflict in Yemen has been escalating, showing signs of tuning into a ground war at both the northern and southern extremes of the country. In the south, where troops loyal to the former Yemeni government are fighting to keep the Houthis out of Aden, there were reports last week of some Saudi ground forces, though perhaps only special forces, and that Sudan and Senegal had agreed to send ground forces. These could substitute for the troops Pakistan refused to provide, but like the Pakistanis could be a two-edged sword, seen by many anti-Houthi Yemenis as foreign mercenaries.

Meanwhile, on the northern frontier, border clashes have increased, and now the Houthis have reportedly fired mortars into civilian areas of the border town of Najran. Najran is a substantial town and provincial capital, and while the Saudis have confirmed some of their border guards have been killed, there are also reports of civilian casualties.

Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Egyptian Army learned some harsh lessons about getting involved in a ground war in a Yemeni civil war,  but the Saudi/Gulf intervention is threatening to enter a ground war phase,

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