“Decisive Storm” Ends, But the Saudi Intervention Continues
The Saudis appear to be continuing their intervention in Yemen, but they have announced the end of Operation Decisive Storm:
The Saudi-led “Decisive Storm” air campaign targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen is over, a spokesman for the coalition said Tuesday, but a new phase aimed at preventing the rebels from operating is beginning [bold mine-DL].
The announcement suggested that the nearly monthlong campaign of heavy airstrikes would be scaled down, but the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri, did not say they would stop. He said the coalition would continue to interdict rebel movements and protect civilians [bold mine-DL], without specifying how.
If the Saudis’ bombing of Yemen is reduced or halted even temporarily, that is an improvement over what has been happening for the last four weeks, but this doesn’t mean that the intervention is over or that the humanitarian crisis brought on by the war has become any less severe. A pause in the bombing is obviously welcome news, but it also underscores just how useless and unnecessary the campaign was all along. Yemen has suffered enormous harm over the last month that didn’t have to happen. The idea that the Saudis will now “rebuild” Yemen after having inflicted so much damage on it would almost be funny if it weren’t so perverse.
It’s also hard to see what the Saudi-led coalition could do to “protect civilians” when it is still maintaining a blockade of the country that is depriving those civilians of much-needed aid. Having completely failed to achieve their main goals of defeating the Houthis or restoring Hadi to power, the Saudis seem to be reworking the justification for their intervention and pausing their bombing campaign to reduce international criticism and scrutiny of what they’re doing in Yemen. At best, the Saudis killed hundreds of people, most of them civilians, injured thousands more, and displaced over a hundred thousand for nothing. More likely, the end of the first phase of the intervention is just a prelude to more destructive interference in Yemen.