Saudi Arabia has announced
that their Decisive Storm bombing campaign is over and they have accomplished their apparent goal of destroying any military capacity of Yemen. There is an old proverb in Arabic that states “ba’d kharab Basra” (after the destruction of Basra) and it is quite apt as a follow up to this news. The weapons destroyed can be replaced, and no doubt at some future date will be, but the lives lost and the mortal wounds to Yemen’s pride can never be restored even by a so-called “Restoration of Hope.” The Saudi offer to pay millions to rebuild Yemen pales in terms of what I assume must be measured by at least a billion or more in terms of the bombs dropped and resupplied. If instead of attacking Yemen from the air, the same amount of money had been given to build health clinics and schools, what a different outcome there would be. Instead, the stench of war is not about to be overcome by any monetary perfuming from abroad.

The damage inflicted by this ill-conceived war campaign is obvious. Forget the nonsense about an Iranian threat, which there never was. The Huthis never controlled anything; it was Salih’s former military supporters who were behind the takeover of Sanaa and the push to Aden. Try to remember the real threat inside Yemen, the one that energized the U.S. drone campaign: al-Qaida, known as Ansar Sharia, has more power and more sympathy now that at any other time. The south is basically in their control. There is little chance that they would welcome Hadi back. So the result of this bombing is a totally destabilized Yemen, a security nightmare, a humanitarian crisis that is not likely to be alleviated soon.

Meanwhile the fighting on the ground continues, with reports of clashes in Taiz and Aden. It seems that all the bombing over a month has not been able to stem the tide of internal fighting. The death toll will not miraculously disappear over night. The whole economy is in shambles. Any one with a Yemeni passport is persona no grata in the rest of the peninsula. Meanwhile the excuse for the war still haunts the media, even though it is now being reported that Iran cautioned the Huthis not to enter Sanaa. The notion that the fighting in Yemen was sectarian along a Sunni/Shi’a divide has unfortunately almost become a fulfilled prophecy as a result of this war, but the real enmity now created is between the Yemeni people and the government of Saudi Arabia. It may take a generation or two for the damage to be repaired. The most impoverished nation on the Arabian Peninsula has been made even poorer by the richest nations. Oman wisely chose to stand aside from this madness of bombing. Money could buy pledges of support from a variety of “Sunni” states, but money will not win over the mass of Yemenis. You don’t stick a knife in someone’s chest and they say you are sorry and offer to pay the hospital bill. This is what Saudi Arabia just did to Yemen.