Al Qaeda may be fighting with Yemeni rebels against Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian and Iran-backed Yemeni rebel spokesmen agree on two aspects of their clashes on the Saudi-Yemen border: Sunday, Nov. 8, was the fifth day of their battle and both sides had taken dead and wounded. Otherwise, debkafile‘s military sources report, the state of combat is hard to pin down in one of the most desolate, sparsely populated and vast desert regions in the world.
Sunday, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, assistant Saudi minister for defense and aviation, stated on a tour of the high Jebel al-Dukhan that the three villages captured by the Yemeni Houthi rebels in a cross-border incursion last week had been retaken and calm restored. (Prince Khaled led the Saudi force which along with US units recaptured Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s army in 1991.)
The prince stressed the kingdom “has not, and will not interfere inside Yemeni borders.” The Yemeni rebels, called Houthis after the clan of their leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, said they had killed many Saudi troops and taken some hostage. To refute Khalid, they circulated a video clip showing Saudi commandoes inside Yemen.
debkafile reports from independent military sources that on this point at least the Houthis are correct. Last Thursday, Nov. 5, a substantial Saudi force struck 5-10 kilometers into northern Yemen. Their immediate concern was to cut off the rebels’ supply lines to the captured villages of Jabal Dukhan and their routes for bringing in reinforcements. But they also had a broader mission -not just to defeat the Houthi invaders or drive them south, but to destroy them. A trap was accordingly set up to catch the invading rebels from the north and south on both sides of the border. To set this trap, a Saudi force was needed inside northern Yemen. But the topography of this region is such that both sides can claim the upper hand while their armies move around without coming into contact.
For the moment, the conflict appears to be spreading rather then winding down to a solution.
Abdullah Salah’s regime in Sanaa has been increasingly shaken by the Iran-backed Houthi insurrection in northern Yemen centered on Saada and the threat of an al Qaeda resurgence in the south. The instability of its southern Arabian neighbor directly affects the royal throne in Riyadh.
It now looks as though some Al Qaeda fighters have crossed the border into Jizan to fight the Saudi army alongside the Houthis. Riyadh is deeply concerned lest the pro-Iranian Yemeni revolt spill over and infect the Shiite tribes of the south. Al Qaeda could well ride into the kingdom on the Houthis’ backs.
To flush out any Houthis hiding among the Shiite villagers of the Jizan border district, the Saudi authorities have begun evacuating the civilian population and registering them by name. But even after this round is over, the oil kingdom will still find it impossible to seal itself off from Houthi encroachments from Yemen because of the wild, rugged nature of the region.
In the last two weeks, Saudi airplanes have been pounding rebel positions in northern Yemen and its warships helping the Yemeni navy apprehend ships from Iran bring the Houthis fresh arms supplies by the same method as Tehran arms supplies reach Hizballah and Hamas.

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