LONDON — The defection of an Emirati prince to Qatar has provided a rare glimpse into tensions among the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and added an awkward complication to its feud with Qatar, its regional rival.
The prince, Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, 31, is the second son of the emir of Fujairah, one of the smaller and less wealthy of the seven monarchies that form the United Arab Emirates. Until recently, he ran Fujairah’s pro-government media operation.
Early on the morning of May 16, Sheikh Rashid unexpectedly turned up at the airport in Doha, the capital of Qatar, asking for asylum.
He told Qatari officials that he feared for his life because of a dispute with the rulers of Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich city-state that dominates the U.A.E., as Sheikh Rashid and a Qatari close to the ruling family confirmed in interviews. -- The New York Times
With Syria and Ukraine on the Heavy Agenda, Will Putin and Trump Have Any Time to Discuss Yemen? Can Russia's Cooperation with the UAE and Saudis Help Bring Peace to this Devastated Country?
Although Yemen has not come up in press accounts of what Putin and Trump intend to discuss, there is no doubt for both Israeli and American consumption the U.S. President will complain to his Russian counterpart about what he calls the malign regional influence of Iran. The Iranians are blamed for supporting the Ansarallah or Houthi movement, regardless of the theological differences between the 'Twelver' Shi'a clerics who rule the Islamic Republic and the more conservative or 'Fiver' Shi'a who predominate in the northern part of Yemen. The 'Fivers' are historically close and have intermarried with the Hashemites, the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed who are the legitimate heirs to custodianship of the haj cities Mecca and Medina as well as the Al-Aqsa mosque/Dome of the Rock holy site in Jerusalem (Al-Quds).
Thus, some observers would argue the British and American oil imperialism-installed Saudis' obsession with Iran is really just an elaborate smokescreen for the royals being terrified at their legitimacy as custodians of the Two Holy Mosques -- a title once claimed by the caliphs of medieval Baghdad and later, of high interest to Erdogan's followers, the Ottoman Turkish Empire that once stretched from North Africa to the Balkans and the Caucuses -- being challenged by the rightful heirs. In this interpretation of modern Islamic history, the Zaidi are being targeted for genocide because they represent a potential theological bridge between the Sunni and Shi'a, one that would end the divide and conquer game the British and French have been playing in the region since the Ottoman Empire's decline over 200 years ago. In the latest incarnation of this old act, the British and Americans have been arming the Saudis to the teeth while the French through Oman and their bases in the East African country of Djibouti where China is also present have been covertly supporting the Houthis alongside Iran.
With Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo, who was recently in the Kingdom and Emirates meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Yemen is likely to come up below the presidential level. It seems likely Pompeo will complain that Russia is not doing more with other powers to enforce the recently extended United Nations arms embargo against the Houthis. Lavrov is likely to reply that the Russian anti-tank missiles and other Soviet bloc designed arms seen in the Houthis arsenals were sold to Yemen before the war and UN resolutions, and that the U.S. should do more to prevent Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State from spreading in the portions of Yemen controlled by its allies. Being a consummate pro and dean of international diplomacy, Lavrov is likely to add Moscow is ready to use its constructive relations with all sides to mediate an end to such a devastating conflict.
Why the Saudis Failed: A Poorly Led, Poorly Unmotivated Mercenary Army Going Up Against Tough Locals Defending Their Homes
Even though not a single Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fighter has been confirmed killed or captured in Yemen, the Lebanese Hezbollah have trained Houthi fighters in the art of guerrilla warfare, using similar techniques to those the Party of God used to repulse the Israelis ground offensive in 2006. Not surprisingly, some pro-Israel neocons who have cognitive dissonance over Netanyahu's deal making with Putin celebrate Israeli strikes on Iranian advisers in Syria, as payback for the IDF's humiliation twelve years ago at Hezbollah's hands. Left unsaid by pro-takfiri Trotskyites like Michael D. Weiss and Andrew Aron Weisburd is that, while bleeding the Syrian Arab Army and Iran through support for ISIS and Al-Nusra/Hayat Tahrir al Sham (Al-Qaeda), Israel's arrogant Saudi allies fell into a bloody trap. The American TOW missiles that the Kingdom shipped to Syrian rebels with the support of the Obama Administration and its Communist Party voting, terrorist arming scumbag of a CIA Director "Riyadh" John "ibn Saud" Brennan, are being avenged with Russian anti-tank missiles shipped via Oman incinerating Saudi armor and troops on a daily basis.
Despite near total control of the skies, the Saudis and their Emirati allies have failed miserably to crush the Houthi resistance. The Houthis continue to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia and stage brazen daylight cross border raids on the territory of the Kingdom's Najran and Jizan provinces. The inability of the Coalition to secure the Hodeidah airport -- where the Houthis have borrowed from Hezbollah the old Soviet tactics at Stalingrad of staying on the move every night and 'hugging' their opponents to limit air strikes against their forces -- is just the latest debacle in a string of staggering failures U.S./UK aid has not been able to stop.
One month ago the Russian Analyst said Hodeidah could prove to be a decisive turning point in the war, as it represented the desperate Coalition's 'go for broke' moment. The combined Saudi/UAE naval forces since then have proved almost useless in taking the main port through which humanitarian aid flows into the country. Together with serious international pressure from aid organizations and bad press via Al-Jazeera, these developments have foiled Riyadh's plans to starve the Zaidi Shi'a portion of the country into submission.
Other Ominous Signs of Saudi Military Failure: Houthis Are Showing No Shortage of Anti-Tank Weaponry and Are Getting More Sophisticated in Their Use of Drones
In the past year the Houthis have fielded more drones that make their rocket fire accurate and most ominously, kamikaze drones (possibly Iranian knockoffs of the Israeli made kamikaze drones captured by the Armenians after Azerbaijan used them in the most recent Ngorno-Karabakh/Artsakh fighting) capable of targeting enemy command posts. This means that, even if the Trump Administration is willing to escalate the use of special operations forces to assist the Saudis in killing Houthi leaders or stopping longer ranged ballistic missile attacks from the Ansarallah, the risks of American choppers being brought down and U.S. troops taking casualties from ambushes are also rising.
Looking for a Way Out of the Yemen Quagmire: Saudi/UAE Courting of Russia With China as the Quiet Patron of a New Post Petrodollar Mideast Order
About the only good news the Saudis have going for them is that the Iranians are experiencing genuine internal unrest and may respond by declaring victory over Daesh and other sectarian terrorists in Syria and making a retrenchment in their foreign policy. While Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman's advisers likely urge him to make a face-saving withdrawal from Yemen, rising oil prices and the abandonment of jihadist proxies in Syria are easing the burden on the Kingdom's budget.
Long before a big beautiful wall arises on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Saudis may construct a long fence to try and keep Houthi raiding parties out. The need to resolve the war that is bleeding them is also, as we've reported here at RogueMoney, pushing them into the arms of the Chinese to end their bloody proxy warfare with Iran and implement a Maritime Silk Road-centric peace plan for the entire region. The price of doing this of course, is going to be the Kingdom increasingly selling its oil in yuan rather than dollars aka finishing off the petrodollar.