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Thread: Yemen in 2016-2018: an intractable war?

  1. #241
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    Simply funny to monitor the PRBS-battle around this war.

    While some people are still falling for Houthi nonsense of this kind - Yemen’s Houthis control 100 miles of Saudi Arabia’s territory (if that would be truth, there would be no end of corresponding reports by the Houthis) - and while the IRGC's PR-machinery is still declaring S-24s for 'ballistic missiles', others do better, even though things are still quite PR-coloured: Legitimate Army Advances in Saada, Considers Taiz a Priority.

    Namely, the Houthis have meanwhile been kicked completely out of Ta'iz.

    The issue is now to kick them outside the artillery range to that city. Thus, while the Houthi PR-machinery is claiming BS of the kind US-Saudi air strikes are killing civilians in Ta'iz, the Saudi-led coalition does not need bombing the city. On the contrary, it's actually the Houthi artillery that's shelling the city and causing dozens of civilian casualties, every single day, and already since more than one year...

    ...in similar fashion, while all the possible media has forwarded reports like Houthi capture strategic Marcusa mount in Nata district, Bayda - everybody is ignoring the fact they've lost it to a YNA counterattack before being able to shot more than 2-3 photos.

    Proof? Hard to get in English; and, certainly enough, Houthi-fans are not going to report it. But, other Yemenis do so, though in Arabic only:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/amerAlham...02866917380096
    https://mobile.twitter.com/amerAlham...96627135123456
    https://mobile.twitter.com/amerAlham...01175497121793

  2. #242
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Some commentary on what's going on in Yemen - and especially in Aden - of the last few days...

    The official Saudi aim of the military intervention in Yemen is 'halting Iranian expansionism' and 'bringing leaders of the Houthi/Saleh coalition to the negotiating table'. For this purpose, the Saudi-led coalition insists on 'supporting the legitimate government' - that of president/former president Hadi.

    Indirect aim of related efforts is the re-establishment of the Saudi position of influence in Sana'a.

    Now, what caused the ongoing civil war in Yemen are major rifts that emerged within the Yemeni military, and thus the entire Yemeni state, in the wake of reforms introduced by Hadi in period 2012-2014. He dissolved the Republican Guards (always loyal to Saleh, only) and purged the military of Saleh's relatives and allies, thus they opposed him. But, he also tried to purge the military of those affiliated with the Islah Party - the de-facto Yemeni version of the Moslem Brotherhood - like Major-General Ali Mohsen. Thus, they opposed him too, and so on.

    Over the time, multiple power blocks crystalised, with 50-60% of the military siding with Saleh and thus with the Houthis, 4-5 brigades with Hadi, up to 15 with Ahmar and thus the Islah etc. The rest of the military either declared neutrality, or sided with the Southern Separatists (i.e. Hirak and the Hadramawt Confederation) or was overrun by the AQAP.

    However, Hadi has no wider political support inside Yemen. He's actually supported only by a small number of allied generals and a few (4-5 at most) of Yemen National Army's brigades.

    Thus, the Saudis and Hadi were increasingly dependable on the support of the Islah Party - which is de-facto the Yemeni version of the Moslem Brotherhood (MB).

    However, back in 2014, Saudi Arabia declared the MBs for terrorists and stopped supporting them. Thus, this party lost badly. Indeed, it could be said that this enabled the Houthis to take over in Sana'a.

    But then... well, when the Saudis and allies invaded southern Yemen, in July-August 2015, they advanced so rapidly, a true power vacuum developed in their backs. This was so because the Houthi/Saleh alliance completely destroyed the governmental system, police, and the military in all parts of southern Yemen they've held until then. The AQAP jumped in and brought much of the country under its control.

    This was something nobody could tolerate.

    Thus, the Saudis and allies had to de-facto stop their advance on Sana'a (in turn offering Houthis/Saleh plenty of time to heavily mine all the ways into northern Yemen), and start building-up new government and new security forces.

    In the course of that process, Saudi and Emirati ways of pursuing the re-establishment of the government went each their own way. Since Hadi still has no political support in the country, he and Saudis were left with little choice but to ally with the Islah Party. Unsurprisingly, Riyadh removed the MBs from the list of terrorist organisations, and Ali Ahmar was appointed Hadi's new Minister of Defence. This secured Hadi (and Saudis) the support of everybody affiliated with the Islah.

    However, in the meantime the Emiratis have pursued their own politics. They are not only anti-AQAP, but also anti-MBs. And, they are primarily cooperating with the Hirak (Southern Separatists) and the Hadramawt Confederation. They also work with Quietists (Yemeni Salafists fighting against the AQAP and the Houthis). The Emiratis spent most of the Year 2017 securing the Aden area, constructing another forward base (including an airfield) at Perim (or Mayun) Island, and running COIN operations against the AQAP in the Mukalla area. Their alliances with the Hirak, the Hadramawt Confederation, the Quietists, and establishment of the Security Belt Forces resulted in creation of powerful proxies that are controlling de-facto all of southern Yemen. There's next to no place there - except the area few quarters of Aden and most of the area around the Bab al-Mandeb - where the Islah still has the say.

    With other words, it's the Emiratis who are now in de-facto control over those parts of Yemen 'liberated' from the Houthis, not the Saudis. Unsurprisingly, the Emirati-supported National Transitional Council now wants to destroy whatever was left of the Hadi's government.

    If I'm to ask, this was a great opportunity for the Saudis to get rid of Hadi. There's simply no point in continuing to support him, because political and military realities in Yemen of 2018 are entirely different than they used to be as of September 2014 (not to talk about March 2015). Question is, if they can afford doing so: after all, they all the time insisted that he's the only legitimate president of Yemen.

    It appears they - and even the Emiratis - have concluded they can not send Hadi into retirement. Thus, the NTC/STC is already announcing it recognizes Hadi as legitimate president.

    I.e. expect the things to get back to where they were before this coup. Only difference will be that Hadi-loyalists will now really have nothing to say.

    ...and then the net result will be something like Somaliland: an independent South Yemen not recognized by anybody from the outside.

    (Note: an alternative would've been a split of the country into two, as originally demanded by the NTC. Something like Northern Yemen, say, ruled by somebody like Saleh's son Ahmed with support of the Islah and the Houthis; and Southern Yemen, ruled by the NTC.)

  3. #243
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ...all of that summarised - perhaps as a 'basic guide' for all the new-comers into related affairs - and by your very own:

    A New State Is Emerging in Yemen
    A new country is beginning to form in the chaos and confusion of Yemen’s civil war. A coup in Aden in late January 2018 has hastened the process.

    The new Yemen has its roots in the period 1990 to 1994, when the Saudi-supported North Yemen and the Cuban/Soviet-supported South were forcibly united. The united Yemen was dominated by a clique surrounding North Yemen president Abdullah Saleh.

    Although he eventually appointed a southerner – Soviet-trained Maj. Gen. Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as his vice president, Saleh ruled the country like a family enterprise. He appointed his son, nephews and other members of his family and tribe to all important positions of the military and the state.

    All the power, and most of development, were concentrated in Sana’a, and the Saleh clique had the final word in every single state affair.

    Saleh and his clique tended to disparage the southerners as “Eritreans” and “Indians,” because Aden was predominantly populated by people who came the region as laborers during the British colonial period.

    Saleh and his clique likewise discriminated against many northerners, describing those of Zaidi origin as “backward.”
    ...

  4. #244
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    Tom,

    Thank you for being so informative on the situation in the whole of the Yemen.

    This sentence reminded me of a couple of factors:
    On the contrary, the Emiratis intensified their cooperation with the southerners, foremost the separatists and the Hadramawt Confederation.
    There is a "kith & kin" link between the Gulf states that dates back a long time, I understand it was based on commercial and trading links. This was reinforced in 1967 when the UK left Aden and "up country", many of the traditional leaders in the Hadramawt and elsewhere fled to the Gulf. At least one senior UAE official is from the Hadramawt.

    I do wonder if these leaders ever returned, either when the Communist regime ended or later.

    Dr Elisabeth Kendall @ Pembroke College, Oxford University is a regular visitor to the Yemen, including long term access to the Hadramawt. To see her publications dip into:https://oxford.academia.edu/ElisabethKendall and her slim bio:

    In she wrote a 14 pgs. paper 'Iran’s Fingerprints in Yemen' in October 2017 for the Atlantic Council and concluded:
    a conflict that began essentially as a politically and tribally motivated dispute over territory, resources and power may yet over time turn into a long-term cycle of bloody sectarian violence. In this respect, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen is – to some extent – helping to exacerbate the very problem it claimed to be designed to solve.
    Link:http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/image...n_web_1019.pdf

    Would a semi-independent South Yemen, following the Somaliland model, really be that bad for the people? It might suit the diplomats and outsiders, but on reflection have they really helped the people that much for many years?
    davidbfpo

  5. #245
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    AFAIK, they never returned. They are still in the UAE.... which is why the UAE has it as easy to deal with them: there is lots of mutual sympathy.

    Would a semi-independent South Yemen, following the Somaliland model, really be that bad for the people?
    It would be a realistic solution, apparently conform to what most of the people living in that part of Yemen want - too.

    But, well: try convincing governments of various countries that have 'problems with separatists' to accept a secession of South Yemen. That's also the reality, and why Somaliland is still not internationally recognized.

  6. #246
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How Saudi Arabia and Iran shared the rise and fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh

    A slightly long article and the sub-title gives a clue why:
    The commonly held view that the conflicts in Yemen – and elsewhere in the region – are a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia must be revised.
    Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-...li-abdullah-s?

    The more you read, the more Byzantine the Yemen seems. President Saleh was:
    Despite also being a member of the Houthis’ Zaidi sect, he had little regard for sectarian loyalty; in the pursuit of power he allied with Sunni Salafists against Zaidi Houthis, and later with the Houthis against everyone else.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-06-2018 at 10:49 AM. Reason: 102,833v
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  7. #247
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    Default Yemeni Tribes and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    A short paper (44 pgs) by a British academic who has spent years in the Yemen and published by a US think tank (POMED) on a fascinating aspect of the multiple conflicts in the Yemen.

    A "taster" from the summary:
    Some Western observers (along with many Yemeni government authorities) contend that a key reason for AQAP’s staying-power is that some tribes are aligned with the terrorist group and provide it with safe havens, fighters, and other support. To be sure, AQAP has a presence in some tribal areas, and some tribal members (along with other Yemenis, and some foreigners) have joined the group. But in doing so, they have acted independently, against the wishes of their tribes. Yemeni tribes as collective entities —as opposed to individual tribesmen—have not allied with AQAP or agreed to give its fighters sanctuary. Tribes reject the group’s radical and violent ideology and tend to see AQAP as a serious challenge to their authority.

    Because of tribal pushback, AQAP has only been able to seize territory and make other gains in parts of Yemen where the tribal structure is relatively weak. The failure of the Yemeni ruling elite to seriously confront the AQAP problem, and the civil war instigated by that same ruling elite, have been more significant factors in the group’s spread than any tribal action.
    Link:http://pomed.org/wp-content/uploads/...NAL_180201.pdf
    davidbfpo

  8. #248
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A slightly long article and the sub-title gives a clue why:Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-...li-abdullah-s?

    The more you read, the more Byzantine the Yemen seems. President Saleh was:
    Rather tragically, such articles come much too late: nearly three years since everybody with a good insight there was warning about US decision-makers having no clue what are they doing in Yemen.

    I really do not understand why do the USA always must do everything wrong in cases like this one?

    Worst of all: why this insistence on specific ideas and turning these into dogmas?

    At earlier times (say: Vietnam), the 'moment of realisation' - the 15th or 16th time the US hit the wall with the forehead - would've been enough to prompt a major change in the politics. In the cases like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria and Yemen, not even this is happening any more...

  9. #249
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    A short review of a book published in October '17:
    "Tribes and Politics in Yemen” fills this gap; it gives an understanding of how a religious movement focused on spirituality evolved into one of the major opposition armed groups in Yemen with plans for statehood.
    Link:https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...rcIXOE.twitter
    davidbfpo

  10. #250
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    Default A curious way to wage war: send people back possibly to fight

    Saudi-Yemen relations take a new twist:
    As a result of reforms to Saudi labour laws designed to tackle the country’s high levels of unemployment, hundreds of thousands of illegal migrant workers have been deported from the Kingdom since November last year. Saudi Arabia’s economic overhaul is desperately needed, but could be having a dangerous unforeseen effect. Forced back to a country in the grip of a humanitarian crisis and with no economic prospects, it is feared thousands of deported Yemenis could be picking up guns to join the Houthis or al-Qaeda, who see the influx of jobless young men as a prime recruitment opportunity. According to statistics from the Saudi interior ministry, 65 per cent of those deported recently are Yemeni – which means a total of 100,000 have already been sent home, and 130,000 more await a similar fate.
    Link:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-a8248506.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-12-2018 at 12:51 PM. Reason: 107,635v
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  11. #251
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    Default The poorest Arab country is being destroyed by the richest

    I recently attended an advocacy group meeting on the Yemen, which had a variety of speakers and two UK-based SME made a particular impact. The meeting was under 'Chatham House Rules' so the SME remain anonymous.

    Both agreed that the Saudi intervention is becoming their Vietnam, a quagmire where 'The poorest Arab country is being destroyed by the richest'. Yemenis share an Afghan characteristic in rejecting foreigners. The cost of the war is US$5-6 billion per month - this was attributed to a paper by Bruce Reidel. Too many armed group now exist, it is in their interests to continue the war and the Saudi coalition is yet to find competent local partners amongst he mix of tribes, military defectors and others. Since the Arab Spring the Saudis have opposed every change by repression, thir strategic interest in the Yemen is not to have a sovereign, stable nation-state.

    Popular support for the intervention has disappeared inside Saudi Arabia and is often seen as inflicting 'severe damage at home and abroad'. Inadvertently the action has opened a public debate in the West over Western support for the Saudis.

    So far the Saudi Army has been deployed to the border, with mixed results in fighting intrusions by the Houthi and recent urges of senior officers have put the better equipped National Guard under Army command, which led to rumours of dissent.

    The ex-President Saleh led faction, with a good part of the Yemeni military, somehow remains fighting with the Houthi. One factor could be that Saleh's moves to defect from the Houthi coalition became known to the Saudis, but they failed to plan for him actually moving against the Houthi. This failure has been noticed by others.

    'AQAP are the main beneficiary of the war' and the Mukalla bank raid, with a US$100m gained will fund them for years.

    In 2008 the UAE =based and owned operator, DP World, leased Aden port for twenty years, paying a claimed US8 billion (which was never seen by Yemenis); they promptly closed the port and sacked staff. The contract was subject to negotiations to cancel in 2012. Put simply the UAE has an interest in Aden port not working. In a quick search I found two reports that supports this: https://www.hiiraan.com/op4/2017/apr...r_somalia.aspx
    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/co...n-gulf-of-aden
    davidbfpo

  12. #252
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    Default Is the rise of the Huthis irresistible? Part 1

    Helen Lackner is the author of this article, which has a longer title and provides a summary of the situation today. I'd missed a Houthi negotiator is in Oman.

    Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/on-wretched-third-anniversary-of-international-intervention-in-?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-24-2018 at 07:28 PM. Reason: 109,518v
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    Part 2 has a little politics, mainly on the support from the USA & UK for the coalition and the remainder is on the humanitarian crisis.
    Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/wretched-third-anniversary-of-international-intervention-in-yem?
    davidbfpo

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    Default It looks like two Saudi Patriots failed tonight…

    From The Aviationist: https://theaviationist.com/2018/03/2...iyadh-instead/

    Saudi Patriot PAC-2 SAM battery in Riyadh fired MIM-104C Surface to Air Missiles at a Burkan 2-H SRBM (Short Range Ballistic Missile) in the night between Mar 25 and 26, 2018.

    The SRBM was reportedly intercepted by one of the SAMs (at least 7 according to journalist Babak Taghvaee were launched) but at least two of them failed: one hit a resindential area (at the time of writing the number of casualties/fatalities is unknown), whereas another one exploded mid-air shortly after launch.

  15. #255
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    Saudi Arabia intercepts 7 missiles fired from Yemen, military officials say
    (CNN)Saudi Arabia's air force intercepted seven missiles fired from Yemen on Sunday and, in the debris that rained down on residential suburbs from the interceptions, one man was killed, the Saudis said in a statement.
    Coalition forces spokesman Col. Turki Al Maliki said the missiles were fired from Yemen at four target areas, and all the missiles were intercepted and destroyed, according to the statement.
    This isn't the first time the kingdom was the target of missile strikes from neighboring Yemen, but it is the first time there's been a fatality on Saudi soil. After previous interceptions, the Saudis responded with airstrikes on the Yemeni capital of Sana'a. The response to a fatal incident such as Sunday's is likely to be even more punishing.
    Three were aimed at the capital city of Riyadh, one was headed toward the southwest in Khamis Mushait, one along the southern border targeting Najran and two were headed for the southern city of Jizan.
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/25/middl...ile/index.html
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
    Saudi Arabia intercepts 7 missiles fired from Yemen, military officials say


    https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/25/middl...ile/index.html
    That is a rather uncritical regurgitation of Saudi propaganda...

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  17. #257
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azor View Post
    ...and both are babbling nonsense (one because it's superficial and sensationalist, the other because of his illusions of grandeur).

    During the night from 25 to 26 March 2018 (i.e. on the third anniversary of this war), the Missile Force of the Houthis has fired a number of ballistic missiles and rockets at Saudi Arabia. According to the Houthi-controlled SABA News, missiles used were Burkan-2H, Qaher-2M, and Badr. To make sure:

    - Burkan-2Hs are rebuilds of various R-17s and Hwasong-6s imported by Yemen in the 1980s and 1990s (i.e. 'Scud' and North-Korean-made, 'extended range Scud'), then destroyed or damaged by the Saudi-led coalition in March and April 2015. They might contain parts smuggled in from Iran.

    - Qaher-2Ms are old V-750 missiles of the well-known, Soviet-made SA-75M (SA-2 Guideline) SAM-system. Yemen has got over 800 of these in the 1970s and 1980s, and they really take no 'rocket science' to be deployed as 'ballistic missiles'.

    - Badr (aka Badr-1) seems to be little else but a re-packaged BM-21 and/or BM-27s.

    Following launches and/or intercepts have been reported:

    - 3 missiles (obviously Burkan-2Hs) were fired at King Khalid IAP in Riyadh; all three were intercepted by MIM-104D/Fs operated by the Royal Saudi Air Defence Force (the RSADF is operating a mix of PAC-2s and PAC-3s).

    Burkan-2H (photo from December 2017):
    HS Burkan-2H 19Dez17A.jpg

    - 2 missiles (type presently unclear) were fired at Khamis Mushayt, results unknown.

    - 1 missile (Qaher-2M) was fired at Najran, and intercepted.

    - 1 missile (Qaher-2M) was fired at Abha Regional Airport, and intercepted.

    Qaher-2M (photo from early 2016):
    HS Qaher-2M.jpg

    - several rockets (Badr-1) were fired at Jizzan airport 'and other targets' (SABA), results unknown.

    Badr-1 (photo from 22 March 2018):
    HS BM-21 Badr-1 Mar18 launcher.jpg

    As far as can be assessed by now, the warhead of one of Burkan-2Hs was intercepted quite low over Riyadh (that's what resulted in the video showing 'fireworks'): debris and shrapnel did cause quite some material damage. Worst of all: one person (an Egyptian expatriate worker) was killed, and at least two injured.

    Furthermore, one of missiles fired by one of several RSADF-operated MIM-104 SAM sites protecting Riyadh, has malfunctioned and crashed shortly after the launch. This one has hit an empty area, without causing injuries or damage.

    Primary problem in engagements of this kind remain these Burkan-2H missiles. They are so poorly manufactured, they are tumbling and falling apart on re-entry (and no: contrary to what various 'experts' and the NYT are reporting, Burkans are neither 'made by Iran', nor containing 'separating warheads': that's science fiction). The PAC-2/3 then targets each big piece with 1-2 missiles. That's why one Burkan-2 usually results in firing of 5-7 Patriot SAMs. In this case, the warhead of one of three Burkan-2H came quite low over Riyadh before it was finally hit (see the video with 'fireworks'). Thus, the shrapnel caused injuries and damage on the ground.

    Final word: for all the hatred for the Saudis expressed in the social media, one could still remain sane enough to trust them at least to push the 'auto' button on their PAC-2/3s.

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    Default To CrowBat RE: Houthi BMs

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat
    ...and both are babbling nonsense (one because it's superficial and sensationalist, the other because of his illusions of grandeur).
    Both who?

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat
    ..As far as can be assessed by now, the warhead of one of Burkan-2Hs was intercepted quite low over Riyadh (that's what resulted in the video showing 'fireworks'): debris and shrapnel did cause quite some material damage. Worst of all: one person (an Egyptian expatriate worker) was killed, and at least two injured.

    Furthermore, one of missiles fired by one of several RSADF-operated MIM-104 SAM sites protecting Riyadh, has and crashed shortly after the launch. This one has hit, without causing injuries or damage.
    How can you be so sure that it was the Burkan-2H warhead that caused damage and death/injury on the ground and not the errant PAC-2?

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat
    ...contrary to what various 'experts' and the NYT are reporting, Burkans are neither 'made by Iran', nor containing 'separating warheads': that's science fiction)...Final word: for all the hatred for the Saudis expressed in the social media, one could still remain sane enough to trust them at least to push the 'auto' button on their PAC-2/3s.
    Yet it is the Saudis themselves who are blaming Iran for the launch...

    I am not anti-Patriot, as that crowd seems to have too much admiration for Russian and Chinese SAMs, despite greater recent US experience, and relatively successful experience at that. Moreover, the Saudis were apparently using PAC-2s rather than PAC-3s.

    However, I thought that you would have posted here first about this event, and I thought that you of all people would appreciate the meme...

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    Default Did Houthi SAMs strike UAE F-16s?

    According to Twitter user @YemeniObserv , Yemeni (ostensibly Houthi) air defenses struck two UAE F-16s.

    Source: https://twitter.com/YemeniObserv/sta...02442681561088

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  20. #260
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azor View Post
    Both who?
    'The Aviationist' & Taghvae.

    How can you be so sure that it was the Burkan-2H warhead that caused damage and death/injury on the ground and not the errant PAC-2?
    What can you see on this video (I've posted the link above): https://twitter.com/3gb_1/status/978...903754240?s=21

    ...a Patriot hitting some densely-populated place?

    Yet it is the Saudis themselves who are blaming Iran for the launch...
    Yes, like they always do - and although their own 'evidence' is proving them wrong, all the time.

    No clue why do they still insist on that legend.

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