Senior US officials have known ever since Saudi Arabia began a war of aggression against Yemen that Riyadh would fail in the military campaign, something that they have also “bluntly” told the Saudis, a report says.
The report, published by The American Conservative magazine on Wednesday, cited one “senior U.S. military officer” as expressing “ire” at Saudi officials for making the decision to go to war with Yemen.
According to the report, the Saudis did not inform Washington of the decision in advance.
“We didn’t see the [Saudi] invasion [of Yemen] coming and we were shocked when it happened. But we were pretty blunt. We told them, ‘you can’t win and you’ll bankrupt your country. It’ll be a quagmire.’ And we were right,”the official, whose name was withheld, said.
Saudi Arabia started the war on Yemen in March 2015 in a bid to reinstall a former regime and eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Four years later, and despite massive purchases of advanced American weaponry, Saudi Arabia and its allies are bogged down.
The report cited another “military officer” as having said back in 2015 that while the Houthis were allied to Iran — which the US considers an adversary — the US counted on them as a potential counterweight to al-Qaeda in Yemen. The war, in which the US also participates, has turned the Houthis entirely against America now, according to the officer.
US intelligence reports were also cited as having said that “Saudi Arabia’s intervention [in Yemen] was throwing into doubt the long-term stability of the Saudi government.”
The administration of US President Donald Trump, the report said, subsequently “reached two conclusions—that ‘all is not well in the House of Saud,’ and that the U.S. should open talks with the Houthis to end the war.”
The report highlighted the major attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on September 14, which the US has said were carried out by Iran. Tehran has rejected that accusation, and Yemen has taken responsibility.
The retired US military officer referred to those attacks and said the Saudi decision to go to war with Yemen initiated all the tensions now simmering in the region.
This is “how all of this nonsense got started in the first place,” the officer said, referring to he initiation of the Saudi war.
A senior Pentagon official also highlighted how Iran now had the upper hand in the region.
“You know that popular map that you see on Twitter that shows that Iran is surrounded by US bases?” the Pentagon official asked. “Well, guess what? The Iranians have now surrounded Saudi Arabia.”