Tracker: Saudi Arabia’s Military Operations Along Yemeni Border

On August 11, 2009, the Yemeni government launched a major military offensive, code-named OPERATION SCORCHED EARTH, against the al Houthi rebels in northern Yemen.  Initially consisting of air and artillery strikes on al Houthi positions, the operation has expanded to include a full ground operation.  “We are determined to end this sedition,” President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared, “We believe in our determination: we are going to finish this cancer in the province of Sa’adah, or wherever it will be found with a strong and inflexible will.”[1]  

Clashes with the al Houthi rebels began in 2004 and have flared up periodically since then.  Uncorroborated claims of Iranian support for the al Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi Shiite sect of Islam, contribute to Saudi fears of an Iranian proxy on its southern border (similar to Hezbollah and Hamas).  Moreover, the diversion of Yemeni security resources to battle the al Houthi insurgency has detracted from operations against al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, which is based out of Yemen but views the Saudi regime as one of its main targets.  In the past, al Houthi rebels have claimed Saudi involvement in the conflict, but both Yemen and Saudi Arabia have denied any military intervention by Saudi Arabia.  On November 4, 2009, after rebels had taken over areas within Saudi territory, Saudi Arabia bombed al Houthi rebel positions and officially entered into the conflict.  Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has deployed military units, including special forces, to its southern border.  According to an official Saudi source, the Saudi offensive would continue until “all hostile elements are cleansed.”[2]

CTP will provide continuous coverage of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen’s al Houthi conflict.

 
SITUATION UPDATES:  

January 4, 2010

  • Al Houthi rebels report that Saudi warplanes killed sixteen Yemenis during air strikes conducted over the past two days in the border region. On their website, the rebels claim that six people were killed and six others wounded when Saudi planes bombed two houses on Sunday and that strikes on Saturday killed ten people and wounded thirteen others in a market. (Reuters)

December 29, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels report that Saudi planes bombed several areas of northern Yemen, including the al Malahaidh district of Sa’ada province using sixteen different aircrafts The Saudi bombings were ostensibly supporting Yemeni troops, who had stormed al Houthi hideouts in Malahaidh earlier in the day. (Reuters)

December 28, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels report that Saudi Arabia launched thirty-one air raids on al Jaberi and fifteen other air strikes on Yemeni territory in a statement on their website. (Al Alam)

December 26, 2009

  • Saudi King Abdullah said in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper, al Seyassah, that Saudi forces had driven all al Houthi rebels out of Saudi lands and that the conflict was drawing to an end. (Al Arabiya, Reuters, Yemen Observer)

December 25, 2009

  • Saudi ground and air forces attacked al Jaberi late on Thursday after the rebels refused to surrender themselves. The ultimatum issued to the rebels ended at 2 pm on Thursday, and two hours later, the Saudi military began its attack. (Yemen Observer)

December 23, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels say they are willing to withdraw from Saudi territory if Saudi Arabia ends its cross-border attacks. (AFP, Gulf Daily News)

  • Egypt refused to respond to a Saudi request for special operations forces. (World Tribune)

December 22, 2009

  • Saudi Arabia has reported that 73 Saudis have been killed and 26 have gone missing since the Kingdom began its offensive against the al Houthi rebels along the Yemeni border. It is believed that twelve of the missing soldiers were killed. The total number of Saudis injured since the start of the offensive has reached 400, with 60 still hospitalized. (Al Arabiya, AP, Reuters, Saba Net)

  • The Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, declared that the al Houthi rebels have 48 hours to vacate the border village of al Jaberi, which is a tiny outpost surrounded by Yemeni territory on three sides that the rebels currently occupy. (AP)

  • Al Houthi rebels claim that Saudi warplanes and helicopters had executed 39 air strikes on targets in northern Yemen since late Monday. (Reuters)

December 20, 2009

  • Saudi forces attacked thirty al Houthi rebels attempting to cross the border at Jebel Ka’ab Jaber, north of Jebel al Dukhan. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Al Houthi rebels report that Saudi air strikes killed fifty-four people in the town of al Nadheer in Razeh district in Sa’ada province, many of whom were women and children. This report is unverified due to restricted media and humanitarian access to the area. (AFP, Reuters)

  • An al Houthi spokesman claimed that the Saudi forces had advanced across the border towards the village of Zawa and that the Saudi army had fired over two-hundred shells. (AFP)

December 19, 2009

  • Al Houthi sources report that the Saudi forces have conducted over seventy air raids in one day and that over 160 missiles hit the border region near Jebel al Dukhan, Jebel al Rumayh, Jebel al Madoud, and Jebel al Jaberi. (Arab Monitor)

December 18, 2009 

  • The Saudi military reportedly repelled a group of al Houthi rebels attempting to enter the Kingdom near al Ardah in southwest Jizan province. Sources report that the group executed a failed missile attack on a security post. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi security forces faced armed al Houthi rebels near Jebel al Rumayh, Jebel al Dud, Jebelal Tiyash, Jebel al Tawailq, and Jebel al Hatimi. The rebels used Katyusha rockets against the Saudi border, while the Saudi Air Force and Army continue operations to clear the border of al Houthi rebels. (Al Arabiya)

 December 16, 2009

  • A Saudi military source reports that around 127,875 infiltrators and 2,206 smugglers have been arrested on the Saudi-Yemen border over the past six months. Saudi forces have also confiscated a number of weapons and 13,999 rounds of ammunition, in addition to foiling attempts to smuggle 30 kg of gunpowder and explosives. (Arab News)

December 15, 2009

  • The al Khubah area has been secured and the governor, Muhammad al Shamrani, resumed his duties as of Monday. Security forces have opened mountain roads to help the transport of machinery and supplies to Saudi forces stationed in the foothills. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Kuwait reiterated its support for Saudi Arabia in its fight against the al Houthi rebels who crossed the border. The Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah said that Kuwait upholds Saudi Arabia’s right to defend its sovereignty. (Asharq al Awsat, Saudi Gazette)

December 14, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels clam that at least seventy people were killed and over one hundred injured in a Saudi air raid on the village of Bani Maan in Razeh district of Sa’ada province. A spokesman for the Yemeni army confirmed the air raid, but said that it was executed by Yemeni planes targeting al Houthi positions. (AFP, BBC, New York Times)

December 13, 2009

  • An intelligence source revealed that there was a secret meeting between al Houthi leaders, an official from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and top Hezbollah leaders. Reportedly, the meeting was held last month to plan an escalation of the conflict. (Al Arabiya)

  • Jeffrey Felthamn, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said that there is no evidence supporting theories of Iranian support for the al Houthis. (Al Arabiya)

 December 12, 2009

  • The Saudi Air Force executed a preemptive strike on a group of al Houthi rebels to prevent them from entering the Kingdom. The targeted areas were opposite Jebel al Dukhan, Jebel al Dud, and Jebel al Rumayh. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Al Houthi rebels claim to have taken control over a Saudi military post on the border in al Jaberi. (AFP)

    • This claim is denied by a Saudi military source saying that no one is able to get close to the border. (AFP, Asharq al Awsat)

    • Saudi media reports Saudi ground forces and Apache helicopters have been used to fight off al Houthi rebels at al Jaberi. (AFP)

  • A Saudi military source reported that the al Houthi rebels used women as human shields, and that the military has taken steps to protect these women. In addition, the rebels send children strapped with suicide belts to the border. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • Asharq al Awsat reported that Saudi forces foiled a suicide attack along the border. (Asharq al Awsat

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stressed Iran’s neutrality in the conflict and ruled out a military solution to the rebellion in northern Yemen. Bahrain, however, has accused Iran of sowing discord and interfering in Yemen. (Gulf News)

December 11, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels report that the Saudi military has continued with its offensive along the border and has launched thirty-seven airstrikes and nearly 390 missiles in the border area on Thursday. (Reuters)

  • Saudi sources have reportedly held off an attack by al Houthi rebels who were trying to seize the Saudi border village of Jaberi. The Saudi Air Force used F-15s and Apache helicopters to hit the rebels. (Asharq al Awsat, Reuters)

    • Military sources report that soldiers using thermal cameras prevented an attempted border crossing by a group of al Houthi rebels. Saudi security forces targeted the area with aircraft and ground artillery. (Al Arabiya)

  • Reportedly, Saudi forces have detained around 1,800 people along the Yemeni border this month, including African refugees. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • Iranian Prime Minister Manouchehr Mottaki repeated Iran’s warning to other countries not to become involved in internal Yemeni affairs and that all countries must “respect Yemen’s territorial integrity.” (VOA)

December 10, 2009

  • Saudi authorities reportedly arrested eight Yemeni families inside Saudi Arabia who are connected to a fugitive in order to pressure them into releasing information on the fugative’s whereabouts. The wanted man, Mohamed Abdu Salah, has been accused of recruiting members in Yemen and Saudi Arabia for the Awaited Mahdi Group, a Shiite Islamist group. (Yemen Post)

December 9, 2009

  • Saudi forces cleared minefields in Jizan, reportedly laid by the al Houthi rebels. Sources add that after the minefields were cleared, Saudi forces took control over Shu’ab al Jawla, a crossing point used by the al Houthi rebels. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi forces reportedly have complete control over the Jebel al Dukhan area and have received reinforcement tank units that include new Bradley and Piranha models. (Arab News)

  • Saudi airstrikes continue to target al Houthi positions. (Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi Navy destroyed two boats smuggling arms into Yemen on Monday. The boats had tried to flee when the Navy attempted to stop them for checks and exploded when fired upon. (Arab News)

December 8, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels claim to have destroyed three Saudi tanks. (World Tribune)

December 7, 2009

  • In a statement, the al Houthi rebels announced that they prevented Saudi security forces from entering Sa’ada province. The rebels added that they had destroyed three military vehicles. (Al Alam)

  • The al Houthi rebels have released a video showing what is purported to be Saudi troops executing cross-border raids. Riyadh denies that its troops are engaged in such actions. (Al Jazeera)

  • Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani condemned the Saudi offensive along the Yemeni border, calling it fratricide and adding that it was unjustified. (Tehran Times)

December 6, 2009

  • Saudi forces reportedly opened the roads on Jebel al Dukhan and Jebel al Dud to allow Saudi machinery to reach forces stationed in the foothills. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Reporters have noted the movement of machinery, soldier transports, and patrols searching through border villages. (Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi Air Force’s Apache helicopters reportedly carried out air raids Friday and Saturday night, keeping al Houthi rebels from crossing the border, especially near Jebel al Dud. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Al Houthi sources report that there is heavy fighting between al Houthi rebels and Saudi troops in al Jawf province. (Arab Monitor)

  • Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said that Saudi raids target densely populated areas. (Al Alam)

December 5, 2009 

  • Saudi Armed Forces continue bombarding al Houthi positions. (Al Watan)

  • The Saudi Navy continues to hold its blockade. (Al Watan)

    • It has strengthened the force off the coast of Yemen with four fast attack craft and missile boats, and has reported the destruction of smuggling boats coming from Somalia. (World Tribune)

  • Al Houthis warned Saudi Arabia that continued intervention in Yemen could provoke a regional war. (UPI)

  • Al Houthi spokesman, Mohammad Abd al Salam, reported that the rebels had successively repelled a ground invasion by Saudi Arabia. (UPI)

  • Jordan has reportedly deployed several hundred troops from its special operations forces to help the Saudi military. Western intelligence sources report that Jordanian King Abdullah was acting on a request from his Saudi counterpart. The sources add that the need for additional troops came when Saudi units dominated by Shiites refused to fight the al Houthi rebels. (World Tribune)

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned of plots to damage Muslim unity and encouraged Yemen to seek a resolution to the conflict through peaceful means. (Al Alam)

December 4, 2009

  • Saudi planes continue to bombard Razeh district, Jebel al Dukhan and Jebel al Madud. (Al Alam)

    • Reportedly, Saudi Arabia executed over 600 air raids with F-16’s, Tornados and Apache helicopters and over 5,000 rockets. (Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi forces arrested 821 people who were trying to cross the border over the past two weeks. Thermal cameras are in use along the border to detect infiltrators. (Khaleej Times)

  • Al Houthi rebels claim success in repelling a Saudi ground invasion. (Al Alam)

December 3, 2009

  • Saudi ground troops prevented a group of al Houthi rebels from entering the area of Jebel al Dud and Jebel al Rumayh. (Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi Air Force bombed the foothills of Jebel al Dud and Jebel al Rumayh with Apache helicopters. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Abdul Malik al Houthi said that Saudi warplanes continued to target al Malahaidh, Shada, and Razeh districts, in addition to Jebel al Madud, Jebel al Dukhan, and Jebel al Rumayh. (Al Arabiya)

  • Saudi army engineers erected wire mesh fences across valleys suspected of being used by the al Houthi rebels as crossing points. (Saudi Gazette)

  • An unofficial toll says that ten Saudi soldiers have died in the conflict. (Al Jazeera)

December 2, 2009

  • Asharq al Awsat reported that ground troops were using Bradley armored vehicles in their patrols. (AFP)

  • The Saudi Navy has already intercepted a number of smuggled weapons and has destroyed four boats that failed to heed warnings from the blockade. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Two warships, Hitain and Badr, now patrol an area of 200 nautical miles from al Musim to Saudi territorial waters. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi King Abdullah visited Jizan province on an “inspection visit,” according to the Saudi Press Agency. (AFP)

December 1, 2009

  • Saudi ground troops have now been tasked with determining the location of al Houthi strongholds. They then notify Saudi snipers, who can then target the al Houthi rebels from a distance. (Saudi Gazette)

  • On Monday, the Saudi Air Force bombed locations in the Najran region along the border, especially Jebel Mufijah and Jebel Lajem. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Reportedly, the al Houthi rebels have moved eastward along the border due to the Saudi airstrikes in Jebel al Dukhan and Jebel Rumayh. The Najran villages were not ordered to evacuate, and armed villagers say they will protect their land. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi pilots receive information on al Houthi positions from field teams, and are then able to strike rebel positions. In addition, the pilots report that the al Houthi rebels camouflage their locations with foliage. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi residents of al Sayyabah village claim that al Houthi rebels threatened them with machine guns and forced entry into their homes. They report that the Saudi Frontier Guard then evacuated them from their houses for their safety and conducted clearance operations in the village. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi border guards arrested rebels attempting to steal food supplies in the village of Ghawiyah along the border. Last week, Saudi forces launched an operation to cut off the al Houthi rebels from food and arms supplies. (Saudi Gazette)

November 29, 2009

  • Saudi warplanes continued to target al Houthi positions in the Jebel al Dukhan area, as well as in the Dhahyan, Bani Ma’az, al Khafji, al Maqash, and al ‘And areas. (Al Arabiya, Arab News)

  • Saudi Arabia reports that its military forces have seized control of Jebel al Dud, a strategic peak. (Al Jazeera, Arab News, Reuters)

    • Al Houthi rebels deny that the area was taken. (BBC)

  • Assistant Minister of Defense, Prince Khaled ibn Sultan, stated that the reports of six wounded Saudi soldiers undergoing medical treatment in Yemen are unconfirmed. (Arab News)

  • Prince Khaled reported that seventy-five Ethiopians and seventy Somalis were captured during military operations along the Yemeni border. (Al Jazeera, Arab News)

    • Al Houthi rebels say they have no connection with the Ethiopians and Somalis. (BBC)

  • Video clips posted by the rebels suggest they have seized a large number of weapons from Saudi troops. (BBC)

November 28, 2009 

  • Saudi armed forces continue to reinforce the southern border to prevent al Houthi incursions into Saudi territory and to fire artillery at al Houthi positions. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi Air Force continues to target al Houthi positions in the mountainous border region. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi Defense Ministry reports that the fate of the nine missing soldiers is still unknown. (AP)

    • In announcing the names of the missing soldiers, Saudi Arabia stated it holds “all the forces dealing with them completely responsible for [protecting] their lives. We also remind those forces of what is mentioned in Islamic Sharia law with regards to rights [entitled to] and duties towards this category of fighters.” (Asharq al Awsat)

  • In his Eid al-Adha speech on Friday, King Abdullah declared that his country would not permit anyone to “desecrate its lands.” He added that “Whoever believes that the sovereignty and security of the country are fertile grounds for their deviant ideology will learn that they are under an illusion.” He also praised the Saudi military. (AP, Asharq al Awsat)

November 27, 2009

  • Al Houthi rebels report that they have captured nine Saudi soldiers. The Saudi Defense Ministry confirmed the soldiers were missing and may be held by the rebels. (AFP, BBC, Saudi Gazette)

  • Unofficial Saudi estimates are that at least nine Saudi soldiers and four civilians have been killed during the offensive. (AFP)

November 26, 2009

  • Saudi armed forces continue operations to clear Saudi territory of all infiltrators. (Arab News)

    • Al Houthi rebels report that they have destroyed two Saudi tanks that were trying to cross into Yemen. (AFP)

  • Saudi warplanes continue to hit al Houthi targets. (Arab News, Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi Navy continues to hold the blockade and patrol the Red Sea coast of Yemen. (Arab News)

  • According to an official source at the Saudi Defense Ministry, all suspected al Houthi rebels have either had to surrender or “hole up in their hideouts … and wait for the inevitable.” The border is reportedly completely secured and is being monitored by Saudi forces. (Arab News, Asharq al Awsat)

  • The al Houthi rebels have announced a new offensive in the Marwi region against Saudi troops. (AFP)

  • Khaled Abdullah Ghizaiz, a spokesman for the government-aligned Mujahideen in Jazan, reported that patrols uncovered a plot to smuggle large quantities of live ammunition into Saudi Arabia via the Jebel Thahran road in Dafa in al Daiyr district. 66,044 bullets of varying makes were confiscated. (Arab News)

  • A Saudi paratrooper, Captain Khalid bin Abdul Rahman al Zahim, was killed Monday. Three Saudi soldiers have been killed this week according to the newspaper Asharq al Awsat. (AFP, Asharq al Awsat)

 November 25, 2009 

  • Saudi forces began a heavy offensive along the border to apply what analysts term as the “Strangling Belt” on al Houthi rebel positions, which is meant to separate them from their supply lines in Yemen. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi Arabia denied that its military forces entered Yemeni territory to attack al Houthi rebels, calling such accusations “lies” and “fabrications.” (AFP, Al Arabiya, Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi air raids targeted areas near Jebel al Dukhan, Jebel al Rumayh, Jebel al Dud, Jebel Shada, and other border towns. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi forces have discovered tunnels and arms caches in the border region. (AFP)

  • Clashes between the Saudi military and al Houthi fighters along the mountainous area of Jebel al Dukhan, killed forty-four al Houthi fighters. (Yemen Observer)

  • The Saudi military described al Houthi fighters as young as 16 years of age, tattooed, wearing black turbans, and carrying weapon(s). (Saudi Gazette)     

    • Eyewitnesses have described these young men as wearing strange looking tattoos at the top of their spines.

    • These tattoos are used by different tribes to distinguish themselves from each other. (Saudi Gazette

November 24, 2009

  • Saudi ground forces continued clearance operations in the border region. (Arab News)

    • Al Houthi rebels accused Yemen’s army of cooperation with Saudi forces saying in a statement, “The people’s army charged with protecting the border is cooperating with the Saudi army in bombing and ground attacks… against the country and its sons.” In a separate statement, the rebels described a three-pronged attack by Saudi forces. (AFP)

    • The army repelled an attack by al Houthi rebels in the Jebel Rumayh region along the border. (Al Arabiya)

    • The army also bombed rebel hideouts in the Jebel al Dukhan region and Wadi al Mouked, reportedly killing several insurgents. (Al Arabiya)

  • The Saudi Air Force continued to bomb along the Yemeni-Saudi border, including the Jebel al Dukhan, Jebel al Rumayh, Jebel al Madoud, Malaheez, Shedah, and Hasama areas, as well as other border towns. (AFP, Arab News, Asharq al Awsat)

    • The first operations began at dawn and fire was seen near Jebel Razeh, which overlooks the border. (Asharq al Awsat)

    • Military sources report that aircraft and heavy artillery will continue to be used in the Jebel al Dukhan, Jebel al Rumayh, al Dud and Wadi al Mawqid areas. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi Navy continues to hold the blockade along Yemen’s Red Sea coast. (Arab News)

  • Information from the front-line indicates that al Houthi rebels may be resorting to new combat tactics, including animal decoys. (Asharq al Awsat)

    • Al Houthi rebels have shifted from small day-time raids to night attacks composed of hundreds of gunmen. (Asharq al Awsat)

    • Reportedly, rebels had placed searchlights on animals and released them near the border to deceive the Saudis into believing they were rebels. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • Saudi authorities have detained many “infiltrators and violators of residence regulations” in the border region. (Arab News)

  • Iranian students assembled in front of the Iranian Foreign Ministry to petition President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a letter to expel the Saudi Ambassador to Iran, condemning Saudi Arabia’s “genocide” of the Shiite population in northern Yemen. (Al Alam)

  • Basij militia members demonstrated in front of the Saudi Arabian and Yemeni embassies in Tehran chanting anti-Western slogans and calling on the Iranian government to support Yemen’s Shiite population. (UPI)

  • At a recent news conference, UNICEF and Islamic Relief Worldwide accused al Houthi rebels of using child soldiers. Sana’a-based Shawthab Foundation for Children and Development also condemned the use of children in the conflict. (UPI)

  • Saudi fears over security during the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, has led to the government announcement that over 100,000 security and emergency personnel will be deployed. This follows calls by Iranian figures for their pilgrims to use the hajj as an opportunity to protest. (LA Times)

November 23, 2009

  • Three Saudi soldiers were killed and an unspecified number wounded by al Houthi fighters during a cross-border incursion along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border. Saudi officials claimed to have arrested nine-hundred al Houthi fighters during military operations in the mountainous area of Jebel al Dukhan. (BBC News, The Washington Post)

  • Saudi military officials, claimed to have thwarted an attempt to seize control of Yemen’s port of Midi by the al Houthi rebels. (BBC News)

  • The Saudi Air Force and artillery troops continued their assault against al Houthi fighters on its southwestern border to prevent any rebel incursions into Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

  • The al Houthi rebels have accused Saudi Arabia of “using tanks, artillery and aircraft” in a military offensive in Malahiz and Shada. Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz Saudi, Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister, said "It's not true that the Saudis are launching strikes and attacks inside Yemeni territory." (Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi military official’s state that Saudi F-15 and Tornado fighters and Apache helicopter gunships have destroyed a number of Katyusha rocket launchers in the mountainous area of Jebel al Dokhan. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi Arabia has deployed special anti-terror forces to the holy cities of Mecca and Madina as a joint operation with Saudi security forces to protect the pilgrimage beginning on Wednesday, said Major General Mohammad Bin Hamad Al Omani, Commander of the Saudi Special Security Forces. (Gulf News)  

November 20, 2009

  • Saudi Air Force officials gave a tour to media members of a Saudi Naval Base located in Jizan. This base has been a launching platform for the Saudi military to conduct operations since the conflict started against the al Houthi rebels. (Saudi Gazette)

  • It is rumored that the United States and Saudi Arabia are considering expanding military cooperation following a Tuesday meeting between Prince Khaled bin Sultan, Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense, and Michele Flournoy, US Deputy Defense Secretary. Neither side commented on the details of their meeting. (Arab News)  

  • Forty-four al Houthi fighters were killed by Saudi forces during search operations in the mountainous area of Jebel al Dukhan. (Gulf News)

  • Al Houthi fighters have resorted to guerrilla tactics against the Saudi military. These tactics have included intermingling with the Saudi population, using disguises (e.g. burkas and thobes), as well as using children as spies and human shields. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Mohammed Abdel-Salam, an al Houthi spokesperson, released a statement to Al Arabiya denying earlier statements by the Yemeni government that al Houthi leader Ali Alqatwani was killed in al Malaheez of Saada province. (Reuters)   

November 19, 2009

  • Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Malaysian Prime Minister, condemns and denounces outside entities that are supporting the al Houthi rebels. Prime Minister Razak expressed his unity with Saudi Arabia and its people for “defending its independence, sovereignty, homeland security, and way of life.” (New Straits Times)

  • Isaa Madkhali, a member of the Royal Saudi Navy, was killed in clashes with al Houthi rebels in the Jebel al Dukhan mountainous area. This brings the total number of Saudi soldiers killed in action since the start of the conflict to six. (AFP)

  • Saudi naval forces launched Cobra helicopters to destroy two vessels approaching its naval blockade. Saudi set up the naval blockade to prevent arms and reinforcements from reaching the rebels. The targeted ships were allegedly approaching from Somalia. (AFP)

  • Askar Zoail, Yemen’s military spokesman, denied accusations that the Saudi military is targeting al Houthi positions within Yemen, saying that the al Houthi rebels are propagating rumors. Zoail also claimed that the Yemeni military has a “stranglehold on the rebels.”  (Al Sahwa News)

November 18, 2009

  • Since the conflict began with the al Houthi rebels – the Saudi military has evacuated several more villages in the Jizan Province – bringing the total number of evacuated villages to 400. (Maktoob News)    

  • Prince Khaled bin Sultan, Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense, is scheduled to meet Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Washington, DC to “discuss a range of bilateral defense and regional security issues.” (AFP)

    • Saudi Arabia is considering purchasing an additional 72 F-15 fighter aircraft to boost its air force. (AFP)

  • France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy meets with Saudi King Abdullah to discuss  a wide-range of security issues. President Sarkozy voiced his support for Saudi Arabia’s “right to defend its territory” from external threats. (AFP)

  • General Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s Chief of Staff of the armed forces, warned Saudi Arabia that its action against the al Houthi rebels is jeopardizing the security of the Middle East. (Al Jazeera)

  • Al Houthi rebels have resorted to asymmetric warfare against Saudi land forces – attacking only at night, when Saudi forces are less vigilant. (Asharq Alawsat)

  • Yemeni refugees in Saudi Arabia are forced to return to Yemen, often times having to pitch tents outside of refugee camps. Some refugees blame the instability in Yemen on the al Houhti rebels, while others hold the government accountable. (Gulf News

November 17, 2009

  • The Saudi Navy continues to impose a blockade along Yemen’s Red Sea coast. (The MidEast News Source)

    • The Royal Saudi Navy expanded its naval blockade to prevent smuggling of arms from Eritrea to the al Houti rebels. (The MidEast News Source

  • Yahia Badr ad Din al Houthi welcomed Iran’s stance on condemning the Saudi military operation against the al Houthi rebels as “Saudi aggression.” (People’s Daily Online)

  • Al Houthi rebels claimed to have attacked Ain al Harra military base with Katyusha rockets located in the Jizan region. (Al Arabiya)

  • Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz stated late on Monday that Saudi armed forces had driven all armed infiltrators out of the country. (Al Arabiya)

  • “Murder of Yemenis Shiites by Saudi Arabia is the beginning of Wahhabi governmental terrorism and represents a danger to Islam and the region,” said Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff. (ISNA, FARS News Agency, Reuters)  

  • Iran has delayed a vital tax deal with Yemen amid allegations that Iran is supporting the al Houthi rebels. (Taiwan News)

  • The Malaysian Foreign Ministry recognized Saudi Arabia’s right to “defend its sovereignty” from external threats. (People’s Daily Online)

November 16, 2009

  • Saudi special forces and paratroopers are continuing to conduct clearance operations in the area surrounding Jebel al Dukhan mountain along the border. (VOA)

  • Saudi Arabia continues to bombard al Houthi rebel positions along the border. (Arab News)

    • Al Houthi rebels report that they have shot down three Saudi military aircraft. Saudi Arabia has not reported any aircraft as missing. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Saudi Navy continues to impose a blockade along Yemen’s Red Sea coast. (Yemen Observer)

    • The Saudi Navy reported Sunday that its ground forces had repelled a group of al Houthi rebels who tried to occupy Jebel al Rumaih along the southern border. (The National)

    • The Saudi Navy captured a group of unarmed “Yemeni infiltrators” on speed boats. (The National)

  • Al Houthi rebels report that they are shelling Saudi positions, including the position of Aen al Hara, to “defend the civilians who were targeted in al Malahaid, Shada and Haidan.” (Wall Street Journal, Yemen Observer)

  • Mohammed Abdul Salam, a spokesman for the Houthis, and three of his assistants were killed in air strikes on the media center in al Kala’a in Razeh, according to Saudi reports. (Yemen Observer)

  • Saudi Chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council, Saleh bin Humaid, said that Saudi Arabia will be trying the al Houthi rebels who attacked a border post near Jazan two weeks ago. (Arab News)

    • Saudi sources report that twenty al Houthi rebels were arrested and eleven others surrendered on Sunday. (Yemen Observer)

  • Yemeni Counter-Terrorism Chief, General Yahya Salih, reiterated accusations that Iran is funding the al Houthi rebellion. “No doubt there is Iranian support,” he said, “Especially when you consider that the Yemeni state is spending billions of riyals.”  Salih added that Iran, who has offered to mediate between the state and the al Houthi rebels, has no right to question the state’s relationship with its minorities. (Al Jazeera)

  • Hamoud al Hitar, Yemen’s Minister of Religious Affairs, denied any discrimination against Shiites, saying that the al Houthi rebels were an “armed movement” that has an “expansionist agenda.” (Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, has accused Iran of supporting the al Houthi rebels, calling Iran’s collaboration with the rebels a “sin and aggression.” (AP)

  • A senior Saudi official stated that he did not believe Iran was providing support to the rebels. He added that there are just several thousand al Houthis fighting, and that Saudi has already captured 350 of them. (Wall Street Journal)

  • On Sunday, the U.S. CIA Director, Leon Panetta, met with Saudi King Abdullah.  (Saudi Press Agency)

November 15, 2009 

  • Residents have been ordered to evacuate al Rahaha, al Awmah, Umm al Daraq, Salah, al Qusaybat, Umm al Qubur and several other villages because they are within the military zone. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi military presence in Jizan continues to grow. (AFP)

    • Reinforcements are reported to be on the route to al Khubah, close to al Houthi positions. (AFP)

    • Saudi border guards are positioned along the border between Jebel Musaim and Thar. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi forces are conducting clearance operations along the border. (Asharq al Awsat, Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi Air Force continued to attack al Houthi rebel hideouts. (AFP)

    • Air raids continue in the areas of Jebel Razih, Jebel al Qalah, and Jebel Shada. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi naval blockade extends to Bab al Mandab, a strategic area off Yemen’s southern coast. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi media reports Pakistani fighters within the al Houthi rebels’ ranks. (Al Arabiya)

  • Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, accused the U.S. of being behind Saudi Arabia’s offensive. He stated that “. . . the Saudi interference in Yemen through repeated bombing by warplanes is astonishing. . . . Reports indicated that the government of the United States is cooperating in the oppressive measures.” (Khaleej Times)

November 14, 2009

  • Saudi Arabia continues to shell al Houthi positions in the area of Jebel al Dukhan mountain and anything within a 10 km zone inside Yemeni territory from the border. (AFP, BBC)

    • Saudi warplanes have targeted a fort east of Jebel al Dukhan, believed to be a major al Houthi rebel base. (Gulf News)

  • Paratroopers were dropped on sites in al Sabkhaya, near Jebel al Dukhan, after the Saudi Air Force had bombarded the area. (Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi naval blockade has reportedly captured five ships bringing in more men, according to Al Hayat. (AFP)

    • None of the five ships contained weapons. Saudi naval forces will continue operations from Saudi Arabia down to Bab al Mandeb, a strategic area off Yemen’s southern coast. (AFP)

  • Saudi forces have found a number of al Houthi bunkers and have reported the use of booby-trapped animals. (AFP)

  • Saudi military border patrols killed one armed man and arrested twelve others when they attempted to cross the border near al Mahallah village. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Military patrols reportedly have killed dozens during clearance operations in the northern Jizan mountains of Malhama, al Rumaih, Shada, al Mashnaq, and al Mathlath. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi sources report twenty al Houthi rebels had been found to be hiding amongst civilians and had in their possession between SR 10,000 and SR 20,000. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Two Saudi soldiers were killed and another five wounded in clashes with al Houthi rebels, according to medical sources at Samtah Hospital in Jizan. (AFP)

    • This brings the official total to nine reported Saudi deaths – four of them civilian. (AFP)

November 13, 2009

  • An estimated 240 villages in Saudi Arabia have been evacuated due to the fighting along the Yemeni border. (Reuters)

    • Displaced citizens will be permitted to return home only after the region has been secured, according to General Adel Zamzami, Director of Civil Defense in Mecca. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • Official Saudi statements say that there are no Saudi troops within Yemen. (Al Jazeera, Reuters)

    • A Saudi government adviser stated, “The orders are not to go physically into Yemeni territory. We don’t want to get bogged down there or inflame any local sensitivities, if there are any, against us.” (Reuters)

  • The Saudi Air Force continues to bomb al Houthi strongholds, especially to the north of Jebel al Dukhan mountain.  (Asharq al Awsat)

    • Reportedly, the Saudi Parachute Regiment called for air support after an attempted ambush by the al Houthi rebels. The paratroopers are part of a front-line offensive against the al Houthis and have been responsible for patrolling the regions of Jebel al Dukhan and Jebel Ramih. (Asharq al Awsat)

    • A large number of patrols by the Saudi Air Force, stationed at the King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushayt, have forced civilian flights from the King Abdullah airport in Jizan to reroute. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • The Saudi Navy has established a naval blockade with air support off the northern Red Sea coast of Yemen to prevent any weapons or supplies from reaching the al Houthi rebels. (Reuters, World Tribune)

  • Saudi Arabia has established a 10 km deep zone inside Yemen that the media has dubbed a “kill zone.” (Al Jazeera, Reuters)

    • A Saudi adviser reported that the zone would not be a place for civilians while the offensive continued and that any Yemeni caught entering Saudi Arabia would be interrogated. (Reuters)

    • A spokesman for the al Houthi rebels, Mohammed Abdel Salam, confirmed that Saudi forces used air raids and artillery strikes to force them away from the border. (Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi security forces continue to arrest al Hotuhi rebels, reporting that they are in possession of arms such as machine guns and RPGs. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • “Informed sources” report the deaths of thirty al Houthi rebels resulting from Saudi forces destroying a weapons cache near the border. A second cache was discovered in al Malha village. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • A military source reports that the al Houthi rebels have adjusted their entry-points into Saudi Arabia by crossing into the al Hareth governorate and entering the nearby al Ardha governorate. (Asharq al Awsat)

  • A Saudi security source stated that, “The rebels are following tactics of Al Qaida in waging fighting after taking caves as their bases. But we are now going to give them a painful punishment and will strive to flush out the last aggressor from their hideouts.” (Gulf News)

  • Saudi authorities continue to deport Yemenis who have entered Saudi Arabia illegally. (Al Jazeera)

November 12, 2009

  • On Wednesday, Yahya al Houthi, a leader of the rebel group, called for a ceasefire and expressed the group’s willingness to engage in talks. “We call upon Saudi Arabia to stop its military attacks and start negotiations,” Yahya al Houthi said, “Our war is not with Saudi Arabia.” (Al Arabiya)

  • The focus of Saudi security forces has shifted from Jebel al Dukhan to other mountains along the Yemeni-Saudi border. (Saudi Gazette)

  • The Saudi army continues clearance operations along the border. (Al Arabiya)

    • Saudi Arabia continues to deploy more troops to the border as reinforcements. Approximately 1,300 paratroopers left Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk military base for the conflict zone. (Al Arabiya)

  • Saudi warplanes continue to hit al Houthi rebel positions. (Al Arabiya)

    • A statement from the al Houthi rebels claimed that over 145 missiles were dropped in fifteen air raids. (Al Arabiya)

  • Saudi Arabia continues its naval blockade along Yemen’s northern Red Sea coast, and Yemen has deployed its coast guard to monitor ships along its northwestern coast. (Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi Arabia’s main civil defense center in al-Khubah, which is in the middle of the conflict zone, will be closed after al Houthi rebels attacked civilian targets such as a hospital and a police station. The center is to be moved to the more secure region of Ahad al-Masareha, 50 km north of the border. Civil defense teams are armed and have received combat training in preparation for any attacks on the facilities. (Al Arabiya)

    • Two days ago, al Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi police station, exchanging fire with the Saudi army. The rebels then fled to a hospital where the firefight resumed. (Al Arabiya)

  • Two month old trenches dug by the al Houthi rebels have been discovered along the base of Jebel al Dukhan. Reportedly, the trenches were dug to hide supplies and to serve as protection from aerial and artillery fire. The trenches have been used to launch attacks on the Saudi Border Guard. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi authorities have begun to deport illegal Yemenis residing in Saudi Arabia, averaging about 1,500 deportations each day. In addition, the authorities are attempting to round up al Houthi rebels in Jizan province whom they say are hiding among the displaced people. (Saudi Gazette, Saudi Gazette)

    • Khaled al Qaziz, the spokesman for the Mujahedeen in Jizan, said the Mujahedeen have captured 2,002 “infiltrators” over the past few days. (Arab News)

  • Yemen has turned down an Iranian offer to help restore security and to mediate the conflict with the al Houthi rebels, saying the conflict is internal. Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi stated that, “Yemen categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs by any party whatsoever.”  (AFP, Al Jazeera, Gulf Times)

  • Hasan Zeid, the leader of Yemen’s main opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties, has stated that now that Saudi Arabia has become involved in the northern conflict, it is possible that other countries might become involved as well. According to him, Saudi Arabia should have worked to resolve the conflict between the al Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government instead of opening up a second front. In a press conference, the JMP announced its “National Salvation Vision,” which calls for a national dialogue to end the conflict. (Yemen Post)

  • The governor of Jizan province, Prince Muhammad bin Nasser, said that Saudi Arabia’s strong response will deter others from committing future border violations. In a meeting with tribal chiefs, he underscored Saudi Arabia’s good relations with Yemen and that it is necessary for everyone to “differentiate between these renegades and other Yemenis.” (Arab News)

November 11, 2009

  • Saudi authorities have completed the evacuation of villagers from al Khubah region, and have declared the region a restricted conflict zone. Only military personnel and officials are allowed to enter the region. (Gulf News)

  • Anwar Ashki, a Saudi defense expert based in Jeddah, reported that the Saudi Army has tightened control over the border area, but does not have plans to enter Yemen. (AP)

    • Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense Prince Khaled bin Sultan said that “There is no intruder now along the Saudi border and it will be a death zone for those who dare enter there. The Border Guards are now in full control and they are supported by armed forces.” Sultan also emphasized that the rebels must “withdraw dozens of kilometers” inside the Yemeni border before Saudi forces halt their offensive. (Arab News, AP)

    • Saudi commandos have been conducting clearance operations in the border region. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi forces continue the shelling of several border towns. Official statements continue to say that the Saudi military is only targeting al Houthi rebel positions inside Saudi Arabia. (AFP, Al Arabiya)

    • Air strikes have hit locations in the al Rumaih and al Esha mountains. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Apache helicopters struck a warehouse containing “advanced weaponry and machine guns.” (Saudi Gazette)

    • Small groups of al Houthi rebel snipers used villages like al Ghawia, al Madfan, and al Janaa for cover, but reports say that after intense and “unprecedented” bombing, the suspects have been eliminated. (Al Arabiya)

    • Al Houthi rebels have accused Saudi Arabia of hitting villages within Yemeni territory, killing two women and wounding a child. Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel Salem reported that Saudi warplanes and artillery have shelled deep into the border areas to create a buffer zone within Yemen. (AFP, AP, BBC)

  • Saudi Arabia has maintained the naval blockade on Yemen’s northern Red Sea coast in order to stop weapons from reaching the al Houthi rebels. (AP, Reuters)

  • The media told officials of al Houthi weapons caches in al Khauba in Hudaydah. Officials discovered boxes of swords, daggers, over one thousand machine gun cartridges, Kalashnikov guns, and seventeen scrolls hidden in sugar cane stalks. (Al Arabiya)

  • Saudi security forces have prevented several suicide missions by al Houthi teenagers over the past few days. (Gulf News)

  • Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense Prince Khaled bin Sultan reported that four Saudi soldiers are still missing. He denied media reports that one had returned. (Arab News)

  • Saudi security sources have reported the arrest of “scores” of rebels during ongoing clearance operations in the border regions. Informed sources say that al Houthi prisoners have been moved to a special military camp. On Tuesday, forty rebels were reported killed. (Gulf News, Saudi Gazette)

  • Abdul Malik al Houthi told al Jazeera that the Saudi offensive was “not in the interest of the two countries.” He called on Saudi Arabia to end its offensive. On Monday, Abdul Malik al Houthi asserted that the campaign he led was one of self-defense and that his group was not takfiri, consisting of those who believe Muslim society has reverted to unbelief and consider rebellion legitimate. In addition, he denied any ties to any “foreign political agenda.” (AFP, BBC

  • On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced that “Iran is prepared to cooperate with the government of Yemen and other nations” and called for a “collective approach” to restore security. (AFP, Al Arabiya)

  • Yemen has rejected any “interference in its internal affairs by any party,” according a source in the Yemeni Foreign Ministry. The Yemeni government source also asserted that the state respects the Shiite confession and that the conflict is not sectarian. (Reuters, Saba Net)

  • Saudi Arabia has offered compensation to those displaced by the fighting along the border. According to Mohamed bin Nasser, the Prince of Jizan, compensation will include housing and foodstuffs. It is to be a minimum of 1,000 riyals per month for parents and 200 riyals for each child. In addition, the new houses provided for those displaced by the conflict will be under the security force’s surveillance. (Al Arabiya)

    • The UN refugee agency has estimated the number of people displaced or affected by the fighting to be 175,000. Earlier this fall, the number was 150,000. (AFP)

  • Syria and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, support Saudi efforts. A Syrian government official was quoted saying, “Syria supports the legitimate right of the Kingdom to defend its sovereignty and the integrity of its territory.” (AFP, Gulf Times, Saba Net)

  • Yemen’s Ambassador to Kuwait, Khalid Rajeh, said about Kuwaiti religious groups, “The Kuwaiti groups have been supporting rebels financially and through the media.” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi has also alleged that the al Houthi rebels receive support from groups in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. (Gulf News)

  • Yemen signed an agreement with the U.S. to cooperate on military intelligence and training. According Yemen’s Chief of Staff Ahmed Ali al Ashwal, the deal strengthens cooperation in the “extermination of terrorism, smuggling, and piracy.” (Reuters)

November 10, 2009

  • A Saudi government adviser reported that Saudi Arabia has imposed a naval blockade along Yemen’s northern coast to prevent the movement of weapons and fighters. Saudi warships are under orders to inspect any suspected ship near the Yemeni coast. (AP)

    • Saudi authorities captured three Yemeni fishing boats in international waters. The fourteen crew members aboard the boats were arrested. (Saba Net, Yemen Post)

  • Saudi ground troops have been dispatched to Jebel al Ariyd mountain to prevent al Houthi rebels from entering Saudi territory. Saudi forces have moved in after shelling areas from the bases of al Dukhan, al Ariyd, Ramih, and Rida mountains to the Mashnaq region Sunday. (Saudi Gazette

    • Paratroopers from the Tabuk Military Base arrived Monday and are expected to partake in the offensive soon, according to military officials. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi fighter jets continued their bombardment of the areas east and west of the border town Mujadah, west of Jebel al Dukhan mountain, and around the Twailiq mountain chain that runs through both Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Shada area, northeast of al Khubah, was shelled at around 3:00 am Monday. (Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi Apache helicopters participated in the air raids on Sunday night and are expected to be used again in the future. (Al Jazeera, Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi Arabia says that it will continue its bombing raids along the border until the al Houthi rebels “retreat tens of kilometres” inside the border, according to Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense Prince Khaled bin Sultan. In his statement, he seemed to confirm reports that Saudi Arabia conducted raids inside Yemeni territory. (AFP)

    • Saudi Arabia denies allegations from the rebels that the Saudi military used phosphorus bombs during its night raids. The use of phosphorous against civilian targets is prohibited under international law. Rather, Saudi Arabia claims that the military used flares and that this was rebel propaganda. (AFP, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

  • A government adviser reported that after Saudi forces had recaptured al-Houthi-controlled areas, the forces scaled back their assault. “The heavy shelling of the area is finished. There are now tactical units deployed there. We want to make sure they (the infiltrators) are neutralized.” According to the source, hundreds of al Houthi rebels have been captured or surrendered themselves to Saudi forces. (AFP, Saudi Gazette)

  • The al Houthi rebels claim to have gained control of most of the territory along the border with Saudi Arabia. A rebel statement reads, “Full control was taken last night over Qatabar directorate and control of all supplies and ammunition as well as building and other military sites.” The district of Qatabar is in northern Sa’ada province along the border. (Al Jazeera, Reuters)

  • The al Houthi rebels claim to hold several captured Saudi soldiers hostage, but have not specified a number. Saudi Arabia has dismissed claims that any Saudi soldier has been captured. (Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera)

    • On Monday, the al Houthi rebels posted footage of a man who they claim is a Saudi soldier in their custody. The rebels showed the man, identified as Staff Sergeant Ahmed Abdullah Mohammed al Amri, receiving medical attention for his injuries, but reportedly, the man shows little resemblance to the photo on al Amri’s military identification card shown by the rebels. (AFP, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera)

    • A second video released by the al Houthis shows a man with similar features as the first who was being filmed by a colleague on what the rebels claimed was a cargo aircraft full of military transport vehicles. (Reuters)

    • A Saudi soldier who was missing returned to the Kingdom with important maps and military documents. Other reports claim that a paratrooper who had been missing for a few days returned to Saudi Arabia with classified information on Monday. Editor’s Note: there is no confirmation on whether or not the differing reports are referring to the same soldier.  (Al Arabiya, Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi forces claim to have picked up al Houthi communications in Farsi. (Al Arabiya)

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki denied that Iran supported the al Houthi rebels and called on states not to interfere in Yemen’s affairs. Mottaki added that Iran is trying to restore peace and stability to regional countries. (Xinhua Net)

    • On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mottaki issued a strong warning to countries in the region.  "Monetary aid, providing arms to extremist and terrorist groups or actually taking action against them and crushing those groups or the people embarking on military operations - these will have negative consequences."  Apparently referencing Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Mottaki added that there were some who "add fuel to some crises."  (BBC)

  • Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al Rashid, a commander in the militant group, Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, called on Sunnis to fight the Shiite al Houthi rebels in a video recording released on the internet.  He added that the threat from the Shiite community and Iran was a larger threat to Islam than that from the Jews and the Christians.  (BBC)

  • France strongly condemned the attacks by al Houthi rebels on Saudi troops, in addition to the violation of Saudi sovereignty. (Yemen Post)

  • Sudanese President Omer Hassan al Bashir congratulated Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah for his “victory” over the al Houthi rebels. (Sudan Tribune)

  • The General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, called on Saudi Arabia to end the military offensive against the al Houthi rebels. (AKI)

November 9, 2009

  • To facilitate operations, civilians have been evacuated from the area surrounding the al Khubah border post and anyone who enters within 10 km of the border is “in a killing zone,” said Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense Prince Khaled bin Sultan. (Arab News)

  • Saudi ground forces continue to mobilize near the border with Yemen. Ground troops and heavy long-range artillery line the main road to the border town of al Khubah, where soldiers patrol the fields and inspect vehicles. (Arab Times, Gulf Daily News, Reuters)

  • Official statements assert that Saudi Arabia has not launched attacks within Yemeni territory (Arab Times, Reuters)

    • Mohammed Abdul Salam, a spokesman for the Houthis, said that Saudi aid raids had resumed Sunday night inside Yemeni territory. “The Saudi military used phosphorus bombs during those night raids, burning mountainous regions.” Salam reported that the raids targeted Jebel al Dukhan, and the villages of Hassama, Shida, and al Malahit, about 4 miles inside of Yemen. (AFP, BBC)

    • Despite official claims to the contrary, a number of sources, including a Saudi official, have admitted to Saudi attacks within Sa’ada province in Yemen. (Gulf Daily News)

  • “Informed sources” say that al Houthi rebels are recruiting both women and children to be suicide bombers to attack the Saudi troops. (Arab News)

    • Yemeni forces arrested a child who had explosives strapped to his body and was on his way to the refugee camp in Sa’ada on Saturday. Authorities arrested a ten-year-old earlier with explosives strapped to him in the old city of Sa’ada. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi Arabia claims to have captured 250 al Houthi rebels. (New York Times)

  • On Saturday, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Assistant Minister for Defense and Aviation, reported that three Saudi soldiers had been killed and fifteen wounded in the fighting. Four soldiers were reported missing, but he dismissed claims that they had been captured by the al Houthi rebels. (New York Times, Reuters)

    • Prince Khaled bin Sultan spoke of the missing soldiers, “There were five missing, and one came back. They are missing and not prisoners.” (Arab Times, Gulf Daily News)

    • Al Houthi rebels claim to have captured the Saudi soldiers and say that they expect a Saudi ground attack. (AFP, Al Jazeera)

  • Retired Saudi Army General Yahya al Zayidi said that the al Houthi rebels sought positions on Jebel al Dukhan mountain in order to get closer to the sea, where they could get arms and ammunition. (Saudi Gazette)

    • An Eritrean opposition leader alleged on Sunday that Iran uses Eritrea as a staging area to provide weapons to the al Houthi rebels. According to Bashir Eshaq, head of external relations for the opposition Eritrean Democratic Alliance, the weapons arrive in Eritrean coastal towns, primarily in Assab, and then the rebels smuggle the weapons into Yemen overnight. (AFP, Arab Times)

  • The Yemeni Embassy in Washington said in a statement, “The Houthi insurgents continue to disseminate false information to deflect media attention from their collapsing morals and foothold.” (UPI)

November 8, 2009

  • Saudi troops have forcibly evacuated civilians from the border areas, according to al Arabiya. (AP)

    • Residents have been moved to newly erected camps, and the al Khubah Hospital is now an emergency center. Schools along the border will be closed for at least another week, and a curfew remains in place. (Saudi Gazette, Saudi Gazette)

    • Yemeni families have fled to Saudi Arabia. They alleged that the al Houthi rebels had robbed them and used them as human shields. (Saudi Gazette)

  • According to sources in Sa’ada, the Saudi army and the al Houthi rebels have been engaged in fighting. (Al Jazeera)

    • Sporadic fighting occurred Friday and Saturday along 50 km of border between Bani Malik and al Khubah in the Saudi border villages of al Qarn, Qawa, and al Dafeneyah when al Houthi rebels infiltrated dressed in women’s clothing. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Saudi warplanes continue to bombard al Houthi rebels’ positions. (AP)

  • A Yemeni Sukhoi bomber went down near the border between the districts of Shada and al Dhahir early on Sunday. Witnesses report the pilot escaped the crash, but was taken in by the al Houthi rebels. Military sources confirm the crash, but will not give details. (AFP, Yemen Post)

    • “Our anti-aircraft batteries shot down the military aircraft which was bombing the village of Razeh,” said a rebel spokesman. (AFP)

  • Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz reported that the Saudi Armed Forces were in “complete control” of Jebel al Dukhan mountain and that “All the mountain slopes inside the Saudi border have been cleared.” (AP, Reuters, Saudi Gazette)

    • The al Houthi rebels deny Saudi claims of control over Jebel al Dukhan mountain, claiming the Saudi offensive is ongoing.  (Gulf Daily News, Reuters)

  • Yemen and Saudi Arabia have been cooperating and sharing intelligence for the two operations being conducted against the al Houthi rebels. (AP)

  • Official statements from Saudi Arabia say that military action has been limited to within Saudi territory. Yemeni rebels, military officials, and Arab diplomats refute this and say that Saudi air and artillery strikes have hit deep inside of Yemen since Thursday. (AFP, AP, BBC)

    • The rebels sent a video to the Associated Press reportedly showing al Houthi militants “dancing on an army truck carrying a heavy machine gun that appeared to have belonged to Saudi border guards. (AP, NPR)

    • Reportedly, the al Houthi rebels have attempted to prove a Saudi presence in Yemen by publishing videos of troops supposedly in Yemeni territory. (Al Jazeera)

  • A medical official said seven Saudis, four of whom were women, had been killed and that 126 people were wounded since Tuesday. (Al Jazeera)

    • A Yemeni source said six Saudi soldiers and an intelligence officer had been killed. (Yemen Post)

    • Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Sultan reported that the Saudi operation has resulted in the deaths of three members of the security force and the wounding of 15, the majority of whom are out of the hospital. (AFP)

  • Al Houthi rebels claim to have the four missing Saudi soldiers in custody and that they would be interviewed and treated with respect. Saudi denies that the men were taken hostage. (Reuters, Saudi Gazette)

  • According to al Arabiya, over 150 rebels have surrendered over the past three days. Twenty-six other rebels surrendered willingly near the al Mashnaq border on Saturday. One armed rebel was killed and another arrested when they tried to sneak into a border village dressed as women. (Saudi Gazette)

    • An official Saudi source reported that about one hundred rebels were arrested within Saudi territory, forty of whom were in women’s clothing. (Yemen Post)

  • The Saudi Press Agency quoted a senior official as saying fifteen soldiers were wounded. (Al Arabiya, BBC)

  • Ruling out the possibility of a truce with the al Houthi rebels, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said that the fight will not end “until we bring this tyrannical, traitorous, and mercenary group to an end. … what has been happening in the past six years was just … training for the army units. The war will never stop, no matter how much money or martyrs it costs.” (AP, Al Jazeera)

  • King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz said in his first public statement since the beginning of the offensive that Saudi Arabia is “capable of deterring any attackers.” (Al Arabiya)

  • Allegations of Iranian involvement in the conflict accuse Iran of aiding the al Houthi rebels, who deny receiving any Iranian support. Abdul Malik al Houthi, the leader of the rebels, told al Jazeera that there was no way for Iran to move weapons to where his forces were located in Yemen and that weapons are largely available in Yemen. According to al Houthi, his fighters have seized arms from the Yemeni army and from security posts. (Al Jazeera)

  • The Arab League called on Yemen to control its Saudi borders and to prevent al Houthi infiltrations into Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Ahmed bin Helli, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League, expressed confidence in the Saudi-Yemeni relationship to work together to prevent the recurrence of another incident along the border. An Egyptian diplomatic source said that the security situation affects Egypt as well, since it has affected the security of the Red Sea. (Yemen Post)

November 7, 2009

  • Saudi ground troops have been moved to the southern border of Jizan province and border security has been tightened. Yemeni defense official denied any Saudi ground incursion into Yemen.  (AP, Wall Street Journal)

    • According to Saudi media, fighting broke out Friday night in the Saudi border towns of al Qarn, Qawa, and al Dafaneyah after al Houthi rebels infiltrated the area dressed as women.  Reports say that the al Houthi rebels launched an attack on the border and then entered al Qarn village, 5 km from where ground troops are deployed.  (AFP, Al Arabiya)

  • The Saudi Air Force continued to hit rebel positions along the border, concentrating on Jebel al Dukhan mountain.  A number of reports say that strikes have been carried out within Yemeni territory, contradicting official statements.  (BBC, Wall Street Journal)

    • Al Arabiya reports that Saudi forces nearly have complete control over Jebel al Dukhan mountain and that they have begun clearance operations.  The Saudi army reports that the al Houthi rebels may have begun to change tactics and adopted suicide methods.  (Al Arabiya)

    • A Saudi government adviser said that with Sana’a’s blessing, Saudi air strikes had been carried out on rebel camps inside Yemen, though official statements assert all strikes were inside Saudi Arabia. (AFP, Al Jazeera)

    • The Saudi Press Agency reported Friday that the attacks were “focused on infiltrators in Jabal Dukhan and other targets within the range of operations within Saudi territory.”  (AFP, Al Jazeera)

    • Al Houthi rebels allege Saudi warplanes are bombing Malahaid district and surrounding Yemeni border towns.  In addition, a spokesman for the rebels said that a Saudi air strike targeted a market in Sa’ada.  (BBC, Reuters)

  • Al Houthi rebels claim that they have captured Saudi ground troops and seized Saudi military vehicles and supplies inside Yemen.  A spokesman for the al Houthis, Mohammed Abdul Salam, reported that the Saudi soldiers were taken on Friday and that they would be “treated with respect.”  (AFP, Al Jazeera, New York Times)

  • There are Saudi reports that an unidentified number of al Houthi rebels had surrendered on Friday.  (Saudi Gazette)

    • Saudi forces arrested over one hundred rebels – a number of whom entered Saudi territory dressed in women’s clothes.  The Saudi Border Guard also arrested thirty rebels along the border.  (Al Arabiya, AP, Saudi Gazette)

    • 10 km east of the region Ahad al Musaraha in Jizan province, Saudi security forces surrounded a group of al Houthis, killing four and capturing the others, bringing the total number captured up to 155 Houthis in seventy-three hours.  (Al Arabiya)

    • Evacuees report that in clearance operations in southern Saudi Arabia, over one thousand rebels were arrested.  (Arab News)

    • Saudi military officials report the capture of fifty al Houthi rebels.  (New York Times)

  • There are no official reports of Saudi casualties.  Al Arabiya reported twenty Saudi soldiers wounded in border clashes.  A doctor in Jizan Hospital reported two deaths among Saudi forces and that the hospital received both Saudi and Yemeni civilian casualties.  (AP, Saudi Gazette, Wall Street Journal)

  • Prince Muhammad bin Nasser, the Emir of Jizan province, said that additional tent camps will be set up and that schools and wedding halls will be converted into shelters.  Yemeni families have moved across the border into Saudi Arabia to escape the fighting.  People are still being evacuated from areas such as villages in al Harth region. (Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Saudi Gazette)

  • Reportedly, al Houthi rebels entered Saudi Arabia to have access to the shore, which would enable them to purchase smuggled weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles, RPGs, G3 assault rifles, and explosives due to a Yemeni government crackdown on black market weapons. (Saudi Gazette)

  • Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have expressed their support for Saudi Arabia in its offensive against the al Houthi rebels.  The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hamad bin Jabir al Ali al Sabah, said that “Any attack on the Kingdom’s sovereignty is considered an attack on the sovereignty of Kuwait.”  Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al Khalifa, said that the measures undertaken by Saudi Arabia are legitimate.  (Al Jazeera, Saudi Press Agency)

November 4-6, 2009

  • Saudi Arabia openly entered the conflict between the Yemeni government and al Houthi rebels in northern Yemen after the rebels carried out an attack against Saudi border patrolmen on Tuesday.  Saudi statements have said that Saudi Arabia will continue to use force against the rebels until they are forced from Saudi territory.  A Saudi source said that this would be a “sustained action” that might involve ground troops in Yemen to “clean out” al Houthi strongholds in coordination with Yemeni forces.  (Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera)

    • In a statement on Wednesday, Abdul Malik al Houthi, the rebels’ leader, said that rebels held positions on Jebel al Dukhan – which is located in Saudi territory – earlier in October, but withdrew after making a deal with Saudi Arabia that Saudi forces would not permit Yemen to use the territory to launch attacks.  According to al Houthi, Saudi Arabia reneged on this deal earlier in the week, so he moved his forces to regain control of the mountain.  (Yemen Observer)

    • Al Houthi militants entered Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and occupied two small border towns before Saudi troops drove them out.  Five Saudi civilians, four of them women, died from the fighting.  On Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that one Saudi soldier had been killed and eleven others wounded in a shootout with the al Houthi rebels.  (Arab News)

  • Residents were reportedly evacuated Tuesday from villages in Jizan province in southern Saudi Arabia and relocated to tent camps farther from the border.  (AFP, Al Jazeera)

  • Saudi Arabia has moved army units and special forces down to its southern border, but according to anonymous diplomats, no decision had been made on whether to send the troops across the border.   (Al Arabiya, Arab News)

  • Saudi F-15 and Tornado jets continue to bomb al Houthi rebel positions in Saudi Arabia northern Yemen, especially Jebel al Dukhan mountain on the Yemeni-Saudi border.  Strikes have been ongoing since Wednesday afternoon.  The Saudi government reports that its attacks have been limited to Saudi territory; however, a Saudi government adviser said that jets had targeted al Houthi camps inside Yemen.  (AFP, Al Jazeera, Arab News)

    • In a statement on Thursday, al Houthi leaders alleged that Saudi Arabia was bombarding rebel posts in al Malahaid, west of Sa’ada.  The statement added that the Saudi fighters were hitting al Malahaid, Jebel al Mamdood, al Husama, and al Mujda’a with phosphorous bombs.  Additionally, al Houthi rebels have accused Saudi forces of bombing civilians, including women and children.  (Al Jazeera, Yemen Observer)

    • The Yemeni government has called reports that Saudi Arabia is carrying out operations within Yemen’s territory “groundless” and the Ministry of Defense has denied reports of attacks within Yemen.  Official statements from the Saudi government insist that it has only attacked al Houthi positions within Saudi territory.  (Al Jazeera, BBC, Saba Net)

  • Reports say that forty rebels surrendered themselves and others have been arrested.  Local sources reported that at least five Saudi soldiers and fifteen al Houthi rebels were killed during clashes in al Khubah and Jebel al Dukhan in Jizan province.  Five Saudi border guards were killed when rebels attacked and entered al Qarn village, 5 km from where Saudi troops have been deployed.  Al Houthi rebels report that ten civilians have been wounded in Saudi attacks, among them women and children, and that they had captured a number of Saudi soldiers.  Saudi media adds that several Saudi civilians were killed by rebel shelling.  (AFP, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera,  Yemen Observer)

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned the al Houthi raid into Saudi Arabia that killed a Saudi border patrolman and wounded eleven others.  According to the Saudi-operated Elaph website, a second patrolman died later from his wounds.  The GCC added that it would stand by Saudi Arabia to protect its security and stability.  (Al Arabiya, Arab News, Reuters)

  • U.S. State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said on Thursday that “there can be no long-term military solution to the conflict” and that all parties should “make every effort to protect civilian populations and limit damage to civilian infrastructure.”  (AFP, Al Arabiya)

 

 

[1] Abdul-Aziz Oudah and Zaid al-Alaya’a, “President Saleh Vows to Uproot al-Houthi Rebels,” Yemen Observer, August 19, 2009.  Available: http://www.yobserver.com/front-page/10017113.html
 
[2] Mohammed Aly Sergie, Summer Said, and Margaret Coker, “Saudi Raids Persist, Aiding Yemeni Fight,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2009.  Available: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125755652567935179.html
 
Photo of Saudi jet corresponding to this piece is by PhoenixFlyer2008 and is available at Flickr.