Houthis Advancing on Najran, Saudi Arabia; U.S. Sending More Abrams Tanks to Replace Armor Destroyed by Yemenis

Yemeni fighters recently destroying two Saudi tanks in SW Saudi Arabia's Najran region. Uploaded by Yemen Fights Back on 2016-07-31.

The U.S. State Department says Riyadh can buy 153 Abrams tanks, 20 of which will replace ones destroyed in combat.

The U.S. State Department and Pentagon Tuesday OKed a $1.2 billion sale of 153 Abrams tanks to Saudi Arabia Tuesday. But that’s not the real news.

Turns out: 20 of those tanks, made in America by General Dynamics Land Systems, are “battle damage replacements” for Saudi tanks lost in combat.

Even though the formal announcement of the sales does not say where the tanks were fighting, the Saudi military is believed to have lost some of its 400-plus Abrams tanks in Yemen, where it is fighting Iranian-backed Houthi separatists.

This revelation was tucked inside a benign Pentagon announcement of the deal, one that for the most part reads just like dozens of other arms sales approved each year. The announcement does not even mention the conflict in Yemen, yet it gives a glimpse into this wildly underreported war between Arab states, the U.S., and the Houthis.
— http://www.defenseone.com/business/2016/08/us-tank-deal-exposes-saudi-losses-yemen-war/130623/?oref=d-mostread

Not only is DefenseOne stating for the record that the Houthis have destroyed at least 20 M-1 Abrams main battle tanks (and doubtless more older M-60 tanks, M113 and Bradley armored vehicles), it's also admitting to its affluent defense contractor or military member readership that the Saudi war in Yemen remains "wildly underreported". The reasons for the mainstream media's lack of focus on the Yemen conflict are many: it is less accessible than Syria's civil war to outside journalists, Saudi bombs which kill Yemeni civilians at schools and hospitals are manufactured in the U.S. or UK making those governments look bad, and the Kingdom has recently intensified its public relations efforts and manipulation of Twitter to push less favorable stories down in search results while demonizing the Shi'a Houthis and the spectre of Iran behind them.

Despite 100s of millions spent annually on PR by Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's propaganda campaign, which is highly visible under the #Yemen and #Houthis hashtags, has yet to produce evidence of a single Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldier or spy caught in the Houthis ranks. The best the Saudis have been able to come up with is captured dhows (Arab sailing vessels traditionally used for fishing and smuggling) with Iranian arms and a single video of a Hezbollah instructor teaching the Houthis how to destroy Saudi tanks. Or propaganda videos like this one, in which a high ranking Iraqi Shi'a cleric vows his men and Lebanese Hezbollah are ready to fight Saudi aggressors alongside Yemenis :

Iraqi Shia Resistance leader Sayyed Hashem al-Haidari: 'We'll Fight in Yemen if Iran/Hezbollah give orders, sheep better than Saud Family' English Subtitles Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKeysToEternity

Last week when writing about the large amount of arms and jihadi manpower the Saudis and Qataris were pouring into their proxy offensive against Syrian government-held Aleppo, we warned that blowback against the Sauds on their home soil was coming. While Hillary backing Deep State hardliners such as former CIA deputy director Mike Morell boast about'killing Russians and Iranians' via Langley proxies in Syria, the prospect of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) soldiers in being targeted in the Levant or Yemen in retaliation doesn't seem to have crossed Morell's mind (and notably Charlie Rose, Morell's host, didn't bother to ask "what happens when the other side strikes back?"). Nor does it seem to have occurred to Morell that a country like Iran which lost hundreds of thousands in the Iran-Iraq war may have a higher capacity for taking casualties than America's pampered, oil revenue-spoiled Sunni Persian Gulf state allies -- who are going to show Assad and the mullahs' who's the boss of the Mideast any day now.

July 27, 2016. Jizan frontline (border region between Saudi Arabia and Yemen): A Saudi armored vehicle is hit by a Houthi anti-tank weapon - Crew is able to escape. At the same location: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buQmKbwjVHM || Angriff der jemenitischen Houthis auf ein gepanzertes Fahrzeug der saudischen Streitkräfte. Die saudischen Soldaten können sich in Sicherheit bringen.

That is, the bulk of the young men in Saudi Arabia willing to die if not for their country and its infamously decadent princes than for Salafist/Wahhabist Islam would seem to be already fighting in Syria -- under the banners of Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Al-Qaeda franchise now rebranded as 'ex' AQ) and the Islamic State. The piss poor combat performance of the Saudi Army and Saudi border guards who are routinely routed by Houthi light infantry equipped with little more than AKs and a few RPGs or heavy machine guns testifies to this reality. Speaking about the Houthis who like the fierce Pashtuns the CIA once enlisted in service of bleeding the Soviet Empire "love to fight", retired Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Col. Patrick Lang had this to say in his recent blog post "Saudi Arabia is Our Most Worthless Ally":

Despite the fact that the Saudi-led coalition has launched a full-on attack and invasion of Yemen, a group of poorly armed and poorly trained “militiamen” have successfully defeated the Saudis, Qataris, and Emirates – themselves backed by the United States in terms of intelligence and strategic assistance – and have not only dealt massive blows to coalition forces but have now managed to inflict blows to the Saudis on their own territory.

In a story that went virtually unreported in the West, the Houthis managed to wrest control of three Saudi military bases in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province, located near the Saudi-Yemen border in January of this year. The bases Jabal al-Doud, al-Aril, and Madba were all seized by Houthi forces and fighters with “allied Popular Committees.” Mint Press


Jes’ to he’p yeh with the sittee-ayshun in Yayman amungst the Ayrabs, long ago I used to spend me time amongst the grandfathers of some of the men who now adhere to the Houthi sect of Zeidi Shiism. This was unusual because the US military attaché usually stayed in Sanaa (the capital) with occasional trips to Hodeidah. I wandered around. Why? I was restless. In doing that, I came to know the various populations of “Yayman,” The Zeidi Shia tribesmen from Sanaa north to the Wadi Najran in Saudi Arabia’s Asir Province and east to the Rub’ al Khali, the Sunni tribal villagers south and SW of Sanaa, the city people. I came to know them well.

The Zeidi hill men who now adhere to Houthism (?) are in the main, runty, stunted, Qat chewing drug addicts who drink Red Label by the quart in the afternoon to come down from their Qat high. They are insular, xenophobic (this extends often to the people in the next valley or on the next ridge). They are heavily armed with infantry weapons such as the AK, RPG, and mortars. Many of them served in the Yemeni Army, defected to their tribe and brought bits of gear like tanks and anti-aircraft weapons with them. They LOVE to fight. Together with the pro-Saleh elements of the Yemeni Army they have whipped the Saudi hirelings and their mercenary friends just about every time they have met. pl
— http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/08/httpturcopoliertypepadcomsic_semper_tyrannis201508httpwwwdefensenewscomstorydefenseinternationalmideast-africa201508.html
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The weakness of the Saudis and their Gulf Cooperation Council allies when forced into battle themselves rather than fighting the Syrian Arab Army to the last Syrian was further illustrated last week. Despite a virtual news blackout by the Establishment U.S./UK media regarding Saudi casualties and defeats, Assad government and Iranian friendly media outlets such as Al-Masdar News have been getting the truth out about the extent of Houthi raids inside southwestern Saudi Arabia. Beyond assaults on border posts or ambushes of government or military convoys which have become a routine occurrence, the Houthis have counter-invaded the Saudi Kingdom to depths beyond 10 or 15 kilometers from the border. As proof of their recent incursion to within sight of Najran city, pro-Houthi social media have tweeted out photos of a prominent skyscraper in the city of a quarter million people taken in the last few days.

Video footage emerged of the Yemeni Republican Guard backed by the predominantly-Houthi Popular Mobilization Forces wreaking havoc on Saudi forces stationed on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Najran. Pictures taken by Yemenis inside Saudi Arabia show the intense proximity of the anti-Saudi Coalition forces to the densely-populated city of Najran.
— https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-yemeni-forces-toy-saudi-army-najran/

While the Houthis and Yemeni Republican Guard forces probably lack the troop strength to actually seize Najran, being able to effectively besiege it and kill large numbers of Saudi troops and knock out armor sent to reinforce the city will keep the pressure on Riyadh. As we reported last week in our blog post about the battle for Aleppo, Al Masdar News' pseudonymous Yemen correspondent 'TonyToh' has  hinted at the destroyed or grounded Yemeni Air Force returning to battle against the Saudi occupiers, quite possibly through the use of missile or bomb-dropping drones. Which country will be providing those combat drones to the Yemenis, besides Iran, is of course an interesting question -- as is the role that the Chinese (Russian GRU SIGINT station hosting?) base at Djibouti across the Bab al-Mandeb strait from Yemen may have played in bolstering the technical capacities and intelligence of the Yemeni resistance. In particular, with the United Arab Emirates already pulling out of any direct combat roles with the Houthis and the Qataris apparently losing killed or wounded soldiers to Houthi attacks while defending the Saudi Kingdom's southwestern borderlands...the Yemenis may step up their targeting of GCC allies and (post)Western mercenaries in Riyadh's service.

The Russia Analyst's Summary Conclusions About the Direction of the Yemen War:

Last week we reached out to 'W the Intelligence Insider', a man who knows a thing or two about proxy wars, having known CIA officers who assisted the mujaheddin in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. If anyone would recognize the playbook the CIA once used to bring down the Evil Empire being turned by the Russians and Iranians against the Outhouse of Saud's tottering petrodollar Kingdom, it would be Team Rogue Money's mentor 'W'. Particularly at a time when the Saudis are doubling down on their failed investment in the Syria jihad, how difficult would it be for the Russians to return the favor and start supplying the Houthis with more anti-tank and MANPAD weapons to counter the arms the CIA and Riyadh are pouring into the Aleppo battle? The answer according to those who purport to have sources in Yemen, is that Russian weapons are indeed flowing to the Yemeni Army and Houthis via Oman.

Interestingly enough for RogueMoney's readership, the analogy 'W' used for what happens next in the Mideast came from the Bible, specifically an episode in the life of Samson in the Book of Judges, chapter 15 (NKJV):

Samson Defeats the Philistines
15 After a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat. And he said, “Let me go in to my wife, into her room.” But her father would not permit him to go in.

2 Her father said, “I really thought that you thoroughly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister better than she? Please, take her instead.”

3 And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!” 4 Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.

6 Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?”

And they answered, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.

7 Samson said to them, “Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease.” 8 So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; then he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

9 Now the Philistines went up, encamped in Judah, and deployed themselves against Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?”

So they answered, “We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.”

11 Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?”

And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.”

12 But they said to him, “We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.”

Then Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves.”

13 So they spoke to him, saying, “No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand; but we will surely not kill you.” And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said:

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have slain a thousand men!”
— https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%2015&version=NKJV

The Houthi tribesmen are surely 'wild asses' of men in the Biblical sense, and the war turning against the Saudis is certainly being waged by young men seeking vengeance for the children bombed and killed by the Wahhabist Kingdom. More importantly for geopolitics outside the poorest country in the Arab world invaded and bombed by its rich neighbor, the Saudis' inability to hide their humiliating defeats at the hands of the Yemenis is going to have profound consequences for the stability of the Saudi monarchy itself (see "After Turkey's Failed Putsch, Is Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed the Next in Line to Get Coup'd Over the Disastrous War in Yemen?"). Last 'W' confirmed what the Russia Analyst and V's new source in the Mideast have told us, that the risk of a palace coup against the person of Crown Prince Mohammed and his disastrous wars of aggression against Syria and Yemen is very real, and it could happen quite soon. 

Some US Senators consider blocking a 1.15 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia. According to a statement provided to Foreign Policy Magazine, Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will work with a bipartisan coalition to see if they can force a vote to block the planned arms sales to Riyadh.