Yemen’s Renewed Retaliatory Missile Strikes On Saudi: Goals, Implications
Story Code : 854059
In the latest attack, On Saturday Ansarullah launched deep into the Saudi soil ballistic missiles targeting the capital Riyadh and also Jazan province. Yahya Saree, the spokesman to the Yemeni armed forces published a statement saying that Yemeni forces carried out the biggest ever strikes on Saudi Arabia since the war began five years ago. He stated that “sensitive” points in Riyadh were targeted by “Zolfaghar” missiles as well as “Sammad-3” combat drones.
On the other side, Saudi Arabia claimed it intercepted two ballistic missiles south of the country. They declined to elaborate on the damages, implementing a news blackout regime as ever.
Local Yemeni sources said that Saudi fighter jets attacked Al-Jamima district in Bani Hashish region in Sana’a and Haradh in Hajjah province– attacks that are believed to have been in response to the Yemeni missile strikes.
The latest Ansarullah attacks have raised some questions: What does the Yemeni revolutionary movement seek behind the attacks specifically on Riyadh? How would these attacks change the war equations on the ground?
What is motivating the Ansarullah attacks?
A significant equation in a war between the two actors is that a defensive strategy and efforts to defend against the attacks by the opposite side not only will not lead to a victory but also in the long run will result in certain defeat of the two sides. At the beginning of the war on March 25, 2015, the Saudi-led Arab coalition due to the chaotic conditions of the home Yemeni conditions and also collapse of the Yemeni army structure ran rampant in the war. The Saudis thought that they shortly can defeat Ansarullah and manage the Yemeni home affairs in accordance with their policies and interests.
But Ansarullah started to improve defense capabilities, developing low-cost, and high-efficiency weaponry starting with reverse-engineering the aging Soviet-era missiles. Gradually, the missile range and destruction power were enhanced.
This advancement was a result of smart change of strategy by the resistant movement, which controls Sana’a and much of the north of Yemen. Ansarullah jumped out of its defensive strategy in the face of the Saudi air campaign, responding to the air raids by the Arab coalition with painful missile and drone attacks hitting the aggression countries’ economic and military infrastructures. The missile and drone attacks by Ansarullah over the past two years, mainly striking the oil infrastructure including Aramco oil giant, exposed how susceptible Saudi Arabia is to reciprocal operations.
In fact, Ansarullah has three main goals behind its attack on the depth of the Saudi territories. First, the Yemenis want to highlight the shift in the war equations by showing off their high offensive capabilities in order to thwart the Arab coalition and its mercenary forces’ pressure to seize the whole territories of Yemen.
The second goal is to demonstrate the increase under the five-year inhumane blockade in the power of the Yemeni armed forces to strike the highly sensitive Saudi Arabian economic and military facilities as legitimate targets to force Riyadh rulers to end the siege and the unceasing crimes that have so far killed and injured thousands and displaced millions of Yemeni people.
The third goal is to push the equations in the war to a kind of political solution, though Saudi Arabia more than once showed it does not allow a settlement or ceasefire go ahead smoothly as it breaches its terms by resuming its strikes shortly after any peace negotiations. Still, grand peace processes and political agreements have always been born from big conflicts. Yemen is no exception. Adoption of offensive military approach by the Yemeni side not only has not expanded the war domain but also it motivated the involved sides to develop pro-negotiations tendency. The record of war shows that as much as the Ansarullah operations against Saudi targets are successful, Riyadh shows further appetite to sit on the negotiating table and settle the conflict.
The Saudi defense weakness and the future of Yemen developments
The Saudi officials claimed that they intercepted the Yemeni missiles before they could inflict any damage on their targets. The Saudi remarks about the interception of the missiles come as they over the past years made such claims. But the disastrous failure of the US-provided Patriot air defenses to repel the missile and drone strikes on Aramco oil processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais regions in eastern Saudi Arabia revealed the falsehood of the claims of Saudi political and military leaders.
Now the Saudi rulers are sure they cannot resist ramped-up Ansarullah-led missile and drone raids. Any reciprocal measures will not be helpful as their military and economic facilities are vulnerable. Thus, very likely the Yemen war equations in the near future will move toward negotiations and a political peace deal. No matter where the course of developments in Yemen goes, what is clear to all analysts is that the fallen-apart Saudi-headed Arab coalition cannot defeat Ansarullah and the Sana’a-based national government as the Yemeni side is now in control.