Iranian backed forces claim to have retaken the Aiden airport, but this victory is likely to be rather short-lived.

Iranian backed forces claim to have retaken the Aiden airport, but this victory is likely to be rather short-lived.

The Iranian regime played a hardball game in Yemen, trying to gain an Iranian proxy power on the Arabian Peninsula, on Saudi Arabia's southern border. To the east of Yemen is Oman, a nation which had been, at the least, not entirely hostile to the Iranians, though certainly not aligned with them. The effort depended on three factors- the US would not take action, the Saudis would be hesitant to take any military action outside of their borders, and the Omanis would be more or less not obstructive.

This is not what happened. Yes, the US did not take decisive counter-measures and withdrew from the country at breakneck speed, although it is suspected that US foreknowledge of the Suadi plan for Yemen may have been a major factor behind this decision. As the US withdrew, Iranian-backed Houthis, who are Shia Salafists, advanced with boldness and the President of Yemen fled the country.

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All SEEMED to be according to plan. But much to the utter and complete shock of the Iranian government, the last two calculations, regarding Saudi Arabia and Oman, proved to be totally wrong. The Saudis, we now know, have been planning "Operation Decisive Storm" for months and, while the US may have known about this plan, it was made almost totally without US involvement. It originated in the heads of two men- Deputy Crown Prince and Muhammad bin Nayef and Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Prince_Mohammed_bin_Naif_bin_Abdulaziz_2013-01-16_(2)

Muhammad bin Nayef Photo- Wikpedia

The 55 year old Muhammad bin Nayef is known to be a low-key man of high energy, an unusual combination. He is the head of the Council for Political and Security Affairs. He is also the Interior Minister. He is generally accessible to media and fels strongly that terrorism is a crime that must be punished with ruthless determination. He has long felt that Yemen was a failed state and has pushed for  intervention, contrary to traditional Saudi policy.

Mohammed_Bin_Salman_al-Saud2

Prince Muhammad bin Salman

Prince Muhammad bin Salman was born in 1985 and is only 29 years old. He is also an energetic personality. He is the son of King Salman, although not the first in line to the throne (Muhammad bin Nayef is ahead of him in the succession, although he is King Salman's nephew). He is also the world's youngest Minister of Defense and that he was appointed to the post should have been a sign to Iranian intelligence of a policy shift coming from Riyadh.

These two men have orchestrated a massive humiliation of Iran. Numerous sources report that the Saudi response, particularly the bombing of the Houthi and the naval blockade, which has already involved warning shots fired by Egyptian FAC's against an Iranian naval vessel, led to a "chaotic" meeting of Iran's defense council at a 3 AM meeting.

The humiliation is total and, for the Iranians, inscrutable. Not only did the Saudis and their allies lash out with great force, and we have information that suggests the fighting will only intensify, but the Omanis have shifted their policy and are not likely to turn a blind eye to Iranian efforts in the region.

But the Iranians are counting on a coup from, of all places, the United States.  Any positive settlement of current negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program will be seen as a victory and a reprieve from otherwise terrible news for the regime, which currently can only look to its successful control over the Iraqi government as "good news." But even this "good news" comes into doubt as, in light of the Yemeni venture, the Saudi-led coalition is more likely seek to redress the balance of power in Iraq.

For this reason the Iranians are depending now on America to salvage their tarnished image, and this is  a place the Mullahs no doubt do not wish to be in.

Iranian media are touting a warning by Mohammad al-Bakhiti,  Senior member of Ansarullah movement's Political Council, which represents the Houthi Shia-Salafist forces, that the gloves will now come off in their response to a possible Saudi-led ground invasion. But the much vaunted ground invasion is more likely to include mostly Yemeni units, including former special forces and tribal militias, who have been training and gearing up in Saudi Arabia for months. These forces, supported by the coalition air forces, are likely to be inserted via the ports and via the northwest of Yemen along the coastal border with Saudi Arabia.

Al Backhiti told the Iranian FARS NEWS agency, "We have not responded to the Saudi aggressions in the past five days because we wanted to allow the Arab countries to reconsider their action and stop their attacks but from now on everything will be different."

But a ground war is coming. Already we have reports from Houthis and the Iranians of "bitter" clashes between what are described as "Saudi and Yemeni forces" in Jayzan and Sabieh (basically on the northwest border, some 120 miles from the coast).

These Yemeni Missiles would pose a threat only to Saudi border areas, but the rebels, who have seized this equipment, have much larger missile systems.

These Yemeni Misisles would pose a threat only to Saudi border areas, but the rebels, who have seized this equipment, have much larger missile systems.

Whatever good news the Iranians might hope for from the US Government, the situation on the ground in Yemen does not favor them, however the Houthi Shia Salafist army has seized a number of weapons systems that could be used against Saudi Arabia, namely ground to ground missiles with hundreds of miles of range capabale of hitting almost anywhere in Saudi Arabia. These missile systems remain in the control of the Salafists and could be deployed in a matter of hours, although deployment once detected could make them vulnerable to air attack.

Recent reports that the Iranians may have agreed to reduce the number of centrifuges to 6,000 and to store nuclear material in Russia may be an indication that the Iranians, who have so far been intransigent, are desperate for a face-saving deal that shows their friends and enemies their relevance and power.

See our report on the emerging war on Salafism,  CLICK here.

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