Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 04, 2015

More Saudi Losses In Yemen, Washington Warns Riyadh To Toe Its Line

The U.S.-Saudi-UAE campaign against Yemen has failed to achieve its aims. While the bombing of Yemen continues and the nation is blockaded an all sides the losses on the Saudi side are also increasing.

The UAE attack from the south is now stuck in Taiz and skirmishes there continue. Strong UAE lobbying power in Washington does not make up for a lack of military capacity. The attack from the north-east towards Sanaa is stuck in Marib. Over the last weeks the Saudis, UAE troops and hired Yemeni tribal forces build up a huge force east of Marib. It includes Apache helicopter and now nearly two brigades of motorized troops. During the last few days these troops, while preparing to attack Sanaa, were themselves under attack from Houthi and Yemeni army forces.


Today a SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile was launched by the Yemeni army and hit the invaders camp. According to a report and tweets from Yemen two Saudi Apache helicopter, armored vehicles and an ammunition dump were blown up. The United Arab Emirates announced that at least 22 of its troops were killed. The Saudis have not yet announced their casualties.

Mortar attacks by Houthi forces also hit (vid) more Saudi border station and military outposts within Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi king just arrived for a visit in Washington. The U.S. takes part in the Saudi campaign against Yemen by providing ammunition, air refueling, intelligence and targeting capabilities. With criticism of the campaign and warning of imminent mass starvation in Yemen coming from various international organizations the U.S. would probably like to wrap up the Yemeni issue and to stop the war. But the Saudis seem so far unwilling to concede that they will not achieve their aims.

This is the context in which was has to read Wednesday's NYT column by Tom Friedman:

[I]f you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.

It is not an accident that several thousand Saudis have joined the Islamic State or that Arab Gulf charities have sent ISIS donations. It is because all these Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front — are the ideological offspring of the Wahhabism injected by Saudi Arabia into mosques and madrasas from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.

And we, America, have never called them on that — because we’re addicted to their oil and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

Strong stuff coming from a columnist with good direct contacts in the White House. The oil argument though fails to hit the mark. There is enough oil available on the markets and even more capacity coming online from Iran and Iraq so that the Saudi oil role is now diminished.

It is unlikely that Friedman would have written that column on the eve of the Saudi king's arrival and in such strong words without some White House nudging. This is a message to Saudi Arabia to cut back on its unilateral activities. Its unconditioned support for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is out of line of U.S. plans and the bombing of Yemen has gone out of hand.

The message Washington is sending via Friedman is: "Stick to our line or we will move on to Iran."

Together with the losses in Yemen the warning may indeed lead to changes in the Saudi stand. A likely casualty would be the Saudi deputy crown prince, the "young general" Mohammad Bin Salman.

Posted by b on September 4, 2015 at 11:50 UTC | Permalink


US strategy is not about using Saudi oil. It is about controlling the global supply and distribution of oil to enhance it's primacy objectives.

Posted by: H | Sep 4 2015 12:23 utc | 1

b, I see the reports of apaches blown up and UAE casualties and attacks on Saudi border sites.

I guess Friedman is mouthing the Israeli line? Israelis:Judaism::Wahabis:Islam, and they don't like the competition in the takfiri arena?

I also saw Putin: Syria's Assad Ready to Hold Snap Election, Share Power

"[T]he Syrian president agrees with … holding early elections, let's say, parliamentary ones, establishing contacts with the so-called healthy opposition, bringing them into governing," President Vladimir Putin told journalists at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

"We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism," "To this end, we hold consultations with our American partners - I have personally spoken on the issue with U.S. President Obama."

“We in Russia, and me personally a few years ago, said it straight that pervasive problems would emerge, if our so-called Western partners continue maintaining their flawed ... foreign policy, especially in the regions of the Muslim world, Middle East, North Africa, which they pursue to date.”

The Russian leader also noted that the US was not facing a refugee crisis of the same magnitude as the EU, despite blindly following Washington's “shortsighted” orders.

Sounds like he's looking for an overall package deal. And he's brought some 'truthiness' into the picture to enable some concessions to reality. Maybe Europe is scared enough to give peace a chance?

Posted by: jfl | Sep 4 2015 12:30 utc | 2

#1: +1

fishier than ever... 10 old men had a funny idea all of a sudden!?

Posted by: Mina | Sep 4 2015 13:20 utc | 3

Tom Friedman "[I]f you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia."

You dont say--(i'm being ironic)---as if we didn't already know this.

no doubt the Tom Friedman's of this world (aka the Zionist lobby)
have been pushing for war against Iran and Syria for the past 10 years or more,(20 years is more like it)
in addition to their "successes" in Iraq and elsewhere --not that i have ever the slightest intention of ever reading the NYT.

Posted by: chris m | Sep 4 2015 13:33 utc | 4

Damn b, I may be in shock for days over Friedman's utterance of something relevant regarding SA, and their support for the wacko Wahabists. Kinda' begs the question, did someone in the Empire give Friedman the wrong script?

Posted by: ben | Sep 4 2015 13:38 utc | 5

Even the unbearable Tom Friedman tells the truth once every 15 years, perhaps!

Posted by: kodlu | Sep 4 2015 13:44 utc | 6

Or it just controlled news and propaganda. Pretending that they care when they don't. Look at Iraq, Syria, Libya etc, look at the fact they continue to arm "moderate" rebels. Saudi is doing what USA wants it to do, and only outwardly they show a pretence of going against Saudi, while continuously arming them and telling them what targets to hit. Targets like grain storage, hospitals, power plants, historical dams.

A decade of drone strikes killing innocent people and they don't expect a backlash. Are they XXX kidding me. That's exactly what they want. Al-CIAda and their offshoots are all desired outcomes. You let a foreign government bomb my whole family and I assure you I would want to kill not only the foreign government but also my own.

Posted by: CaptainAnon | Sep 4 2015 13:53 utc | 7

b, your write a great column that is always relevant and looking behind the scene. But I have to mention that your headline today includes a phrase that drives me crazy. It's "toe the line," not "tow the line."

Posted by: DakotaBoy | Sep 4 2015 13:58 utc | 8

Friedman's job is to repeat big lies. Saudi hijackers is the big 9/11 lie. When Obama arms the Houthis, I'll believe the Chicken Hawks are turning against Saudi-Israelia.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 4 2015 15:25 utc | 9

Minor detail, but headline should read "...Toe It's Line"

Posted by: Bill H | Sep 4 2015 15:28 utc | 10

7;Todays NYlying Times has an article by Ann Bernard,assigning some blame to US and Europe for the refugee crisis.The comments are fixed,as in almost total disagreement with said article,and that all this disaster is the Arabs and Muslims own fault,Absolutely no introspection of Israeli and Western provocations in totally destabilizing and destroying the govts and institutions of the region,other than a few interspersed comments critiquing US with almost no likes,while the own fault comments get 50 likes.Hasbaritic propaganda given weight by the criminals at the MSM.
Evil bastards.

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 4 2015 15:28 utc | 11

Funny that the Turks are getting away without blame. Why don't they offer permanent residence and work permit to the Syrian refugees like other European countries do with refugees? Oh! for Turkey, they are not refugees, they are 'guests'...

Saudi Arabia has never been perceived so badly in the press. Even Friedman is attacking them.
It does seem like a warning to the Saudis: Don't expect Obama to listen to your complaints about Iran, rather get ready for strong warnings:
-Stop your unofficial charities that are helping ISIS financially.
-Stop the war in Yemen, negotiate with the Houthis and please, dump Hadi.
-Stop financing the Islamist rebels in Syria.
-Stop blocking the election of Aoun in Lebanon.
-Stop obsessing about Iran and the Shia "crescent"
-Stick to your own security that the USA cannot guarantee anymore in view of your erratic actions.

Posted by: Virgile | Sep 4 2015 15:52 utc | 12

The nature and severity of the rift with KSA is still unclear. As usual, there is an utter news black-out. Has KSA taken drastic steps to curtail the flow of money and arms to ISI from KSA citizens? (Jordan's position is also murky as it claimed/appeared to be in deep alarm wrt ISIS and authorized shoot-on-sight orders on those crossing its borders irregularly a few years ago, despite the evidence that parts of Jordan, like part of Iraq have operated as ISIS/"REBEL" supply routes.
Good to know the King is in country ... I think.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 4 2015 15:57 utc | 13

@2zed.. thanks for the zionist overview on all that..i guess tf's quote "the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment" has nothing to do with it... it certainly is a convenient cover for the usa and israels game plan, if nothing else..

Posted by: james | Sep 4 2015 16:17 utc | 14

A few months ago you may recall how Zacarias Moussaoui was opening up about the Saudi involvement as to the 9/11 attacks. Moussaoui's revealing statements were by no means an accidental news leak. It is clear that the U.S. Saudi relationship is wavering. There has also been congressional representatives who were allowed to read the never released 28 pages of the 9/11 Report. These congressmen did say that what they read of those 28 pages could be a game changer, if the public were to learn of what is disclosed inside that report. Now, we have Tom Friedman falling of the ends of his flat earth over what the Saudi's are doing. Finally Tom is coming around to see what many of you here have been seeing now for over a decade. Could Tom be joining us here all on his own, or is something else going on here? I agree that Friedman is echoing the Whitehouse on this one. Somewhere at the Four Season Hotel in D.C. I see a copy of the NYT with Friedman's article staring straight up at some prince. I also guess it is fair to assume that the American oil frackers are really hurt, due to the Saudi low crude prices. So, let's see; the Saudi's are on the way out, and Netanyahu didn't get what he wanted, is something going on here?

Posted by: Joe Tedesky | Sep 4 2015 17:08 utc | 15

NPR ran a piece about repo men in fracking country -- the Dakotas -- swamped with work and trucks ... folks who were earning $6000 a month, suddenly making $600 ...
We claimed the Saudis were supporting us in punishing Russia/Iran by driving down their income ... but they seem to "accidentally" crushed our miracle cure to dependence on foreign oil -- the technology Clinton's state department was assisting in exporting ... (post-Fukoshima) ... we have so many reasons to make-nice to Iran, I think even the GOP will get the picture eventually.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 4 2015 17:13 utc | 16

Another excellent post. What is also clear from the Tom Friedman article is that he has a firm grip of what is true. Which means that when he so often writes contrary to it he is being the worst kind of hypocrite. It is easier to excuse people who are misguided or ill-informed. Some one like TF is much harder to forgive.

Posted by: Khalid Shah | Sep 4 2015 17:18 utc | 17

‘US’s agenda in Yemen - to prevent any independent regime from coming to power’

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 4 2015 17:50 utc | 18

Factoid: In square kilometers (527,968) -- Yemen is smaller than France and larger than Spain ....
CIA world factbook: almost four times the size of Alabama; slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming
because, I've wondered a number of times just how big that "apparently tiny" country was ....

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 4 2015 19:01 utc | 19

This is a message to Saudi Arabia to cut back on its unilateral activities.

Another crock. The house of saud are craven imperial colon washers as you very well know. They wouldn't piss with their pants on fire unless the US gave them the go-ahead. And Tom Friedman can suck on a fetid colostomy bag. He knows two things: Jack and shit, and Jack left town.

Posted by: Some Guy | Sep 4 2015 19:54 utc | 20

cluster bombs on yemen thanks saudi arabia and the usa... just gotta love that nobel peace prize guy obama.. tea with the saudi prince will be delightful.. it's what happens when a couple of murderers get together for tea..

Posted by: james | Sep 4 2015 19:59 utc | 21

@BillH in #10... b has it right in this case. The possessive of "it" has no apostrophe; the apostrophe is reserved for the contraction of "it is".

Posted by: WorldBLee | Sep 4 2015 20:24 utc | 22

Thanks, b, for the update on the war in Yemen. There are not many who are doing that.

The rolling back of the Houthi forces as far as Taizz is not too surprising. The Houthis there were in alien territory. The question now is whether they will defend the mountains.

Posted by: Laguerre | Sep 4 2015 20:26 utc | 23

Posted by: james | Sep 4, 2015 3:59:31 PM | 22
Not only are we providing and using clusterbombs, we and the saudis have done harm to Yeman's old city of Sanaa -- UNESCO world heritage site
The Director General of UNESCO condemns the destruction of historic buildings in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen (06/12/2015)

I hope I'm not around when the "chickens come home to roost" on this shit. It's quite likely that Saudi bombing runs have taken a toll as yet undetermined on Sanaa and the other sites ... in such a fierce battle zone. The Saudis appear to be vindictive, winning is not enough ... there must be punishment and pain inflicted.
I was wondering why the most recent blasts at Palmyra got such fleeting attention ... although I confess they made me so heartsick I didn't read beyond the blurbs.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 4 2015 20:58 utc | 24

- The Saudis seem to have booked the entire Four Seasons Hotel. And that's NOT a cheap hotel.
- Tom Friedman always knows how much criticism is allowed by any US administration and won't go beyond that. Or as Robert Fisk has put it: "Thomas Friedman, a.k.a. the frontier of maximum criticism".

The US is certainly "Not amused" with what the Saudis are doing.

Posted by: Willy2 | Sep 4 2015 22:29 utc | 25

Thomass Friedman, aka The Mustache of Wisdom, author of "The World Is Flat" commenting on US attack on Iraq: "Suck On This!".

The man is a sick, twisted neocon from hell. NYT makes as good a fish wrapper as any other "newspaper".

Posted by: fast freddy | Sep 4 2015 23:03 utc | 26

Virgile at 12: You're going way overboard. b is exactly right, the message is to rein in bin Salman and cut back on unilateral activities, unless they are quick victories rather than the giant PR human rights starvation disaster that is Yemen. As for everything else, in particular the terrorism by KSA mercenaries (al Qaeda, ISIS, etc.), that's all fine for now.

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 2:38 utc | 27

Any truth to the rumor American pilots are doing the bombing runs?

Posted by: Anunnaki | Sep 5 2015 2:39 utc | 28

Good article at Eurasia Review on how badly the Yemen defeat looks for Mohammad bin Salman.

Makes me think maybe a jealous and wily old Saudi royal family member baited the fast-rising youngster into the invasion. I mean, anyone with some perspective and history knows you're not going to defeat the Houthi. You might at best push them back into their home territory. But the Saudis aren't even capable of doing that.

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 2:58 utc | 29

What a relief! Obama has gained the OK from King Salman about the Iran deal! Hurray! and as a bonus, the King and Obama agreed that there is no military solution to Yemen.
This has become a real joke: No military solution to Ukraine, to Syria, to Yemen but we will continue to bomb and get more fighters and the USA will be more than happy to sell more weapons. No military solution eh?
That's all what they got after 3 hours of chit-chat?
I am sure that it didn't go that well for the neo-Alzheimer king and his stallion, but the Saudi PR lobby is rich enough to make it look like it did.

Posted by: Virgile | Sep 5 2015 3:01 utc | 30

If the US really wanted KSA to stop attacking Yemen, it could simply withdraw its intelligence and logistical support. It doesn't need Thomas Friedman to tell KSA to cut it out.

Posted by: William Rood | Sep 5 2015 3:07 utc | 31

Following on from @30:

Oh, here's that wily old (not so old, 56) Saudi I was theorizing, from the same Eurasia Review piece:

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s lack of a presence in this conflict is particularly interesting. Publically, he is known as the father of the kingdom’s counter-terrorism program and is a favorite among Western allies. The Crown Prince is credited with defeating al-Qaeda’s efforts to topple the Al Saud family in the mid-2000s. Beyond this, Mohammed bin Nayef also serves as Chairman of the new Council for Political and Security Affairs. Considering this position, it is strange that Mohamed bin Nayef is not at the forefront of Riyadh’s war in Yemen.

Perhaps Mohammed bin Nayef, in knowing his cousin’s need to prove his leadership capabilities, is allowing the Deputy Crown Prince to serve as the face of the Yemen campaign so that he can take the political damage and potentially lose legitimacy as a successor to the throne. Given that Mohamed bin Salman is not well-liked, nor deeply respected within the ruling Saudi family this may well be the case.

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 3:13 utc | 32

Wm. Rood at 32 --

He's telling the Am. public that Wash. is telling Riyadh. The Moustache is of course a Serious Thinker, beloved by the lumpen-bourgeoisie, so fear The Moustache!

Posted by: rufus magister | Sep 5 2015 4:05 utc | 33

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 4, 2015 11:28:38 AM | 11

Re NYT comments.
That sounds like a major escalation in the War on Public Opinion. I wonder how much time will elapse before someone at NYT cites the stage-managed comments as a reflection of Public Sentiment?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 5 2015 4:58 utc | 34

@WorldBLee in #23: I was referring to "Toe" as opposed to "Tow." The phrase refers to putting one toes on the line drawn in the sand and not crossing it, as opposed to dragging a line, such as a piece of rope, behind one like a ship might do. So, as I said, the headline should read, "...Toe It's Line" rather than "Tow It's Line."

Posted by: Bill H | Sep 5 2015 5:04 utc | 35

And, of course, I added the apostrophe, which I did not mean to do. "...Toe Its Line."

Posted by: Bill H | Sep 5 2015 5:06 utc | 36

@ #8, #10.
I agree. But ppl who mis-spell and abuse the expression sincerely believe that their new version is a declaration of adherence to a 'line' as in The Party Line - even though 'toe the line' was originally a variation on 'stepping up to the plate' which is done with one's toes (at THIS line I'm pointing at, right here!)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 5 2015 5:31 utc | 37

This happens too often to The World's Slowest Typist...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 5 2015 6:11 utc | 38
Saudi Arabia has said it is happy with President Obama's assurances that the recent nuclear deal with Iran will not imperil the Gulf states.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country was satisfied that the deal would contribute to security and stability in the Middle East.

He was speaking after King Salman held talks with Mr Obama in Washington,

It is King Salman's first trip to the United States since assuming the throne in January.

The foreign minister said he hoped Iran would use the windfall from the lifting of sanctions for its own development rather than engage in what he termed as "nefarious activities in the region".

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 5 2015 6:30 utc | 39

Oh, that article linked in 30 also identifies the possible wily old Saudi (not so old, 56) who might've baited Salman into the now humiliating invasion of Yemen:

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s lack of a presence in [the Yemen] conflict is particularly interesting. Publically, he is known as the father of the kingdom’s counter-terrorism program and is a favorite among Western allies. The Crown Prince is credited with defeating al-Qaeda’s efforts to topple the Al Saud family in the mid-2000s. Beyond this, Mohammed bin Nayef also serves as Chairman of the new Council for Political and Security Affairs. Considering this position, it is strange that Mohamed bin Nayef is not at the forefront of Riyadh’s war in Yemen.

Perhaps Mohammed bin Nayef, in knowing his cousin’s need to prove his leadership capabilities, is allowing the Deputy Crown Prince to serve as the face of the Yemen campaign so that he can take the political damage and potentially lose legitimacy as a successor to the throne. Given that Mohamed bin Salman is not well-liked, nor deeply respected within the ruling Saudi family this may well be the case.

(By the way, this is the third time I'm trying to post this fairly innocuous blockquote.)

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 6:34 utc | 40

Stop toe-ing my damn line. Get a real job already.

Posted by: blues | Sep 5 2015 6:39 utc | 41

What could be taking place in regard to Friedman’s (found religion) article which is openly highly critical of the KSA is that the time has finally come to throw the Sauds (which have always been a PR embarrassment to Washington) under the proverbial bus. What Friedman is now saying is what many of us (who take more of an interest in this stuff) have known for quite some time – that the KSA is the sponsor of numerous terrorist activities, in the ME and beyond. The fact that it is a terrorist state has been well concealed from public media consumption primarily because it was in Washington’s interest that the public not be entertained to this very fact. Given that Friedman represents one of the State Department’s leading propagandists, it is perhaps through his public denunciations of the KSA that signals Washington’s interest to backtrack on this alliance; and that Friedman’s attacks on the KSA is the start of a full demonization assault – preparing the American public for a major shift in ME policy. The Washington neocons know very well that the public has little interest in the nuances of foreign policy (US style) and sadly, very short memories. Recall that Saddam’s use of chemical weapons was no big deal during the 1980-88 Iraq/Iran war; but was a major PR weapon later on when Saddam was no longer of any use to Washington.

If indeed the US is becoming self-sufficient on its production of hydro- carbon energies (through its aggressive fracking industry, which is hugely stressed financially; and threatens another 2008 “ponzi” level financial collapse) there is every reason to believe that the KSA’s days are numbered.

Posted by: bjmaclac | Sep 5 2015 7:28 utc | 42

""The message Washington is sending via Friedman is: "Stick to our line or we will move on to Iran."

This is also a very useful insight by b. It indicates another smart motivation for removing Iran from pariah state status. Saudi leverage against Iran, Iran leverage against Saudi. Of course Saudi and Iran can play that game too. Not sure Saudi is smart enough to, but I'm talking theoretical in their case.

Let's see if this one gets posted ...

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 7:37 utc | 43

Given that Friedman represents one of the State Department’s leading propagandists
This makes me think of Matthew Simmons great book "Twilight in the Desert", in which he reveals that KSA is running out of oil, for instance, their biggest field is being flooded with salt water to get the oil out, and 80%+ is water that has to be separated. He also suggests Iran may have the biggest proven reserves of conventional oil.

So, yes b

"Stick to our line or we will move on to Iran."

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 5 2015 8:10 utc | 44


Freidman is using the 'shiney object' of KSA to distract the American public from Israel supporting ISIS, and losing the Iran vote, which means Plan B, another False Flag attack on US soil, as Cheney tipped his hand last week, the doddering pederast.

That 6th nuke from Minot was never recovered. It could easily fit in the trunk of a Volvo registered to some poor Iranian US businessperson, who is photo-shopped in a surveillance camera in the a national manhunt, as MSM repeat-rolls the mushroom cloud and face down children.

Days pass in attack helicopter lockdown, then the garbled cell phone video, as the poor Iranian is gunned down by a fusillade of DHS/ATF/INS regulars.

On to Tehran!

Yemen, and MENA for that matter, is all a fracking CGI as far as USAryans are concerned. Most can't even find Texas on a world map. It's immigration, immigratiom, immigration. Wasn't that how Hitler consolidated power, by creating a Gypsy-Jew Other, to gyn up National Racial Pride?

“Follow the Party! Fight to win! Forge exemplary conduct!"

Posted by: NoReply | Sep 5 2015 8:12 utc | 45

The casualty numbers has been revised upwards. It now stands at 45 Emirati soldiers

Posted by: Poul | Sep 5 2015 9:23 utc | 46

'... we have so many reasons to make-nice to Iran, I think even the GOP will get the picture eventually. '

Trump taps into Israel fatigue among Americans: US journalist

Posted by: jfl | Sep 5 2015 11:49 utc | 47

Bodies of 103 foreign troops recovered from Yemen’s Safer airport:

A top Yemeni tribal source says the bodies of 103 foreign troopers have been recovered from a military airport in the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib, where they came under a rocket attack by Yemeni army forces and allied Popular Committees.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities have identified 45 Emirati nationals as well as five Bahraini citizens among the soldiers slain in al-Safer airport, adding that the remaining corpses belong to individuals that hailed from other Arab nations, Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network reported.

He further noted that at least 70 people, mostly Emirati soldiers, also sustained injures in the Friday afternoon’s incident ...

Posted by: fairleft | Sep 5 2015 13:36 utc | 48

Invader casualties due to Tochka attack on airport east of Marib:

UAE troops 45 killed
Saudi 16 killed (10 confirmed, the other unconfirmed)
Bahraini 5 killed
Yemeni mercenaries on the invader side 87 killed (unconfirmed)

Two Apache helicopters, lots of other equipment and the ammunition for the assault on Sanaa destroyed. This will at least delay and further action from the Marib direction for possibly several weeks.

The Saudis and UAE planes flew some 50+ revenge attacks against Sanaa alone. They bombed everything the had already bombed before plus a apartment buildings and an orphanage. At least 27 civilians, likely many more, were killed in Sanaa in one day. Other cities were also bombed.

Posted by: b | Sep 5 2015 13:38 utc | 49

There were some comment hold ups in the SPAM queue now released because I currently have to fight off the "lol" troll again. Please bear with me.

Posted by: b | Sep 5 2015 13:50 utc | 50

The Saudis are starting to feel the pain of intruding in another country to impose their will. It is only the beginning, wait that Al Qaeda moves in the areas 'liberated' from the Houthis.
The young Saudi stallion leading the hysteria war against anything that smells Iranian will soon be kicked out. Saudi Arabia is showing signs of weakness and disarray.
No wonder that the neo-alzheimer King Salman rushed to ask the USA not to dump them, in the name of Saudi-USA "friendship"
The King knows well that USA easily dumps its 'friends' when they become weak, less useful and a source of embarrassment.
I expect a significant shift in Saudi's strategy in Yemen and Syria very soon.

Posted by: Virgile | Sep 5 2015 14:48 utc | 51

here's a better link

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump showed again on Friday he will not easily be bound to party orthodoxy, breaking from many of his rival's policy stances on issues from the Iran nuclear deal to the gay marriage fight in Kentucky.

In an interview with MSNBC, one day after signing the party's loyalty pledge to not run as an independent, Trump said he would work with the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran, nevertheless calling it "a disastrous deal" and "a horrible contract."

Many of the 16 other Republicans seeking the party's nomination for the 2016 presidential election have vowed to undo the agreement. But Trump, a wealthy businessman, reiterated his view that too much money was at stake and his rivals were wrong to say they would rip it up.

"I love to buy bad contracts where key people go bust, and I make those contracts good," he said, adding that he would strictly enforce the Iran deal.

Trump took a different tack on the Kentucky battle over gay marriage. Some Republicans loudly backed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who opted for jail time rather than issue any marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling in support of gay marriage, which goes against her religious beliefs.

"We are a nation of laws," Trump said. "You have to go with it. The decision's been made, and that's the law of the land."

Read more at link

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 5 2015 14:54 utc | 52

WARNS RIYADH ? the arms deals...

IT'S THE MONEY (and it aint oil) below gleaned from

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud visits the United States for three days, he rented out all 222 rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel to accommodate several hundred. The Four Seasons hotel is gold laced with Gold: mirrors, end tables, lamps, even hat racks.

Arms Deals...
- 1 billion: The Pentagon is in the process of FINALIZING a $1 billion arms deal, to purchase primarily of missiles to arm the fleet of F-15 fighter jets.

- 2.9 billion: DISCUSSING purchase of two frigates for more than $1 billion. A deal worth $1.9 billion for 10 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

- 5.9 billion: end of July SOLD, a $5.4 billion for 600 Patriot Missiles and a $500 million for more than a million rounds of ammunition as well as land mines and hand grenades.

- 80.8 billion: In 2014 alone, the Saudi monarchy committed approximately $80.8 billion, 10.4 percent of the country’s GDP, to military expenditures.

- 60 billion: In 2010 a $60 billion, 20-year agreement, the largest-ever US arms deal.

Posted by: Kim Sky | Sep 5 2015 14:59 utc | 53

Actually I'd like some explanation for KSA's sudden decision to take the reins and (again) pursue actual armed conflict in Yemen. The civil war and threat of Al-Qa’ida go back to before the notorious November 2009 first US drone strike ...
KSA's army had been deployed, iirc, for 2 weeks in the prior month(s) to try to secure the southern border against AQAP, quickly suffered more than a dozen deaths (which was sufficiently unaccepable that KSA withdrew) ... "We" then started working "with the blessing" of Saleh and never stopped (this included aggressively pursuing Al-Awlaki and assassinating him).

As to the current status of AQAP, I wish I thought anyone actually knew. The publicly acknowledged death of AQAP leader, Nasir al-Wahishi, in June. Last issue of Inspire, December 2014 (prior March 2014). Who knows? Talk of Al-Q and ISIS joining up is probably erroneous, although defection of individuals and diversion of wannabes probably inevitable. AQAP was having success in claiming territory and setting up "state functions" - schools, electricity, feeding programs -- within the last few years.

The Yemen border had "traditionally" been porous to people seeking work and a fair about of smuggling. Yemen itself has always been fractious. South Yemen was a separate communist/marxist state - 1967–1990 ... Then came Al-Qa’ida and "existential threat" (likely fairly real) ... to be followed by this claim of Iranian existential threat (I gather a vast exaggeration but an "affront" or "act of war" suggested by Iran's support of the Houthis)

It's really hard to tell if they (AQAP leadership) are simply underground or if the groups is no longer operational except as "another" Yemeni militia force fighting nationalist struggle in the civil war.

That Saudi arms deal is insane ... given their historical tendency to play "loose cannon" and their fledgling new rulers. However, apparently it must be approved by congress ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 5 2015 15:49 utc | 54

sorry about the bad link above ... Trump taps into Israel fatigue among Americans: US journalist. Presstv is always creative in its choices of American analysts and ecperts to interview, and it's always a breath of fresh air in an asphyxiating world when they publish them.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 5 2015 17:27 utc | 55

Susan Sunflower wrote @20:

"Factoid: In square kilometers (527,968) -- Yemen is smaller than France and larger than Spain ...."

As I’ve heard said, “War is the Universe’s way of teaching Americans geography…”

During the ’03 US invasion of Iraq many newspapers superimposed outlines of California over Iraq so readers would have some idea how big the country was. As the US military closed in on Baghdad they superimposed instead a map of “Baghdad by the Bay” (San Francisco) over the Iraqi capital.

Given that their columnists were labelling SF a "traitor city" as we twice gathered 750,000 protesters against the war from only 5 million people in the entire Bay Area—DC mustered a third that on the same days from the entire Boston-Washington corridor—I do not believe the above map comparisons were coincidental.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Sep 5 2015 20:31 utc | 56

... Next to KSA, Yemen looks tiny, hardly worth noticing, except for its strategic location ... on larger maps, it still looks rather insignificant. As a product of American education, I tend to picture France and Spain about 3 times their actual size. I'm always amazed by the Dymaxion projection

The media plays games with maps -- stories about the Ukraine generally feature maps in which the "rebel held territory" looks to be about half or at least a third of the entire country ... because they cut off the entire western half of the country ... which makes the idea of ceding control of "rebel held territory" to Russia appear cut the country "in two" when it's really much less ..

Google: Ukraine
Recent hysteria in the last week or two wrt "russian claims to the arctic" have played on people not knowing what the world map looks like.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 5 2015 21:00 utc | 57

oops, that was the wrong dymaxion map ... closer to the old mercator projection

try this one:

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 5 2015 21:15 utc | 58

@Susan Sunflower, 58-59:

Yes, I was following the "dueling cartography" closely during the fighting of last summer, back when the junta was on the offensive and the corporate media wanted to make it seem as though the People's Republics were being shredded in a modern blitzkrieg. In late August the BBC fantasized maps that were the exact mirror image of what was unfolding on the ground, with both Donetsk and Lugansk surrounded and even the MH17 crash site in junta hands. It was amusing to see how they slowly dialed all that back as it shriveled in the light of reality.

Now that the fascist junta's inner rot is completely exposed and its forces are deserting or firing on each other when they are not bravely shelling schools and hospitals, the MSM want to make the antifascist forces appear 20 feet tall. Hence the optical illusions. I've seen them accentuate the effect you describe further by cutting out the central and western Ukraine but including a menacing amount of Russian territory, as though it were about to swallow up the poor Nazis.


During the invasion of Iraq I took a cue from the "California/Iraq" newspaper maps, taking one of their rah-rah embedded reports from "the front" and substituting California place names for Iraqi ones, California National Guard for Republican Guard, etc., and shared it at a teach-in. The effect was rather chilling.


I've seen the dymaxion projection before but not known its name. For simplicity's sake I usually illustrate with a more familiar Mercator projection unless I know someone can handle an unfamiliar layout, or an actual globe if absolute accuracy is needed. My main points are usually more about people and politics than land area as such.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Sep 6 2015 0:40 utc | 59

"It is unlikely that Friedman would have written that column on the eve of the Saudi king's arrival and in such strong words without some White House nudging."

It's about as likely as a circus bear would ride a bike in the wild.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 6 2015 0:56 utc | 60

@46 "It could easily fit in the trunk of a Volvo registered to some poor Iranian US businessperson"

Though, I doubt they'd ever find that Volvo... they probably would miraculously find the businessman's wallet on the street somewhere not too far away...miraculously "thrown clear" of the nuclear blast, the media will be forced to assume in their reporting of the matter.


There's a lot here on the Saudi's, the range of opinion seems to be that this is a) about making the Saudis more compliant or b) about completely throwing them under the bus. My guess is that the petro-dollar needs the Saudis as much as the Saudis need the US. I think the US tries to control them with such threats - Democrat "bad cop" vs Republican "good cop" but the aim is the same - maintain the petrodollar. Maintain the arms contracts.

Who takes over is Saudi if the royals there are deposed? From what I know, they run their kingdom like any gangster monarchy is run. Likely the Saudis, were they to start to fall, would go fascist - which in this case, to me, means sharing power by, perhaps, slipping out of sight behind a popular al Qaeda leadership. Probably this is their threat they can hold against the US.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 6 2015 1:28 utc | 61

The guests staying at the 222-room hotel for the next couple of days are all part of the 79-year-old king’s entourage of Saudi diplomats, family members and assistants, one source said; a full buyout of the entire property was reserved for the visit. Guests who had booked to stay at the Four Seasons during the royal visit have apparently been moved to other luxury hotels in town. A call to the Four Seasons confirmed the hotel is sold out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
King Salman, who ascended the throne in January, has a habit of displacing commoners for his own comforts; this summer, during a sojourn to the French Riviera, his eight-day stay forced the closure of a popular beach, enraging locals. Salman rolls deep, with a reported 1,000-person delegation joining him for his seaside August vacation.

Read more:

That could explain why there are so few KSA soldiers on the ground in Yemen.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 6 2015 2:59 utc | 62

@62 guest

I wouldn't discount a US/Israeli coalition taking over the Saudi oilfields directly in the event the Saudis bite the dust.

In fact that squares with this brutal, senseless war the US is 'allowing' them to fight in Yemen. The worm is beginning to turn now for the Saudis. They have no friends among the people with their actual hands on the guns anywhere in the area.

And it squares with the Friedman's screed above, unearthed by b. And with that same general saw on the violin over 9/11 that the Israelis have been playing over the past few years. 'Wasn't us ... was the Saudis!'

Posted by: jfl | Sep 6 2015 7:03 utc | 63

Some day... the world will realize the saudis and their zionists and western sponsors are the enemies of humankind.

Posted by: guy | Sep 7 2015 23:53 utc | 64

@ 65.

The world, or at least the Western lump, is dominated by Right-Wing cretins. Cretinism has a formal definition which isn't a good fit for the cranks and ideologues who are devoted to wearing out their welcome. The Urban Dictionary has an informal definition which sums them up nicely...

CRETIN: A Person that is: brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins.

This explains, with merciful brevity, the predilection of cretinous "leaders" to frame the solution to EVERY problem (created by them) as a choice between the lesser of Two Evils. It should surprise no-one that we now live in a conversation drained of optimism and sanity by the Cretinous Culture of Lesser Evilism in which potentially Good solutions are vehemently howled down as "naiive" or "impractical."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 8 2015 7:14 utc | 65

Very interesting article, Yemen as Laboratory: Why is the West So Silent About This Savage War?.

The rapacity, ruthlessness, and sheer criminality of the USA/KSA/Israel cannot by overestimated.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 23 2015 12:08 utc | 66

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