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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #161
CrowBat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Crowbat,

Are the cited 'brigades', whether mountain, air defence or mechanised really brigades as the West and others would recognise? Or is the term really inflated to describe a weak battallion?
Average YA brigade is much smaller than anything comparable in the West, of course. Some would be designated 'regiments', few only 'battalions', almost anywhere else.

But about 20 'crack' units, and all of air defence brigades (all of the latter are nominally under the YAF control) used to have full strenght and full complement of weapons (even if not all of these were operational, see most of SA-2s). Indeed, some could have been described as 'reinforced', then they were not only operating the usual complement of 3-4 SAM-battalions (each battalion = one SAM-site), but more of these.

Few of Army units have been overrun and de-facto disarmed by Houthis in recent month and some observers expected them to completely disappear. For example, the 310th Armoured Brigade surrendered to Houthis in Amran, in July 2014, and its CO (Brig Gen Hamid al-Qushaybi) was killed. But, this did not happen: this brigade was reorganized and is still active in Amran area (indeed, it's one of major targets for Saudi-led coalition).

What makes YA's brigades so important is that each is a sort of local centre of political power. Most are are under command of at least a Brig Gen, and officers in question are exercising significant influence upon civilian life in surrounding areas. Their major bases have large stockpiles of ammo, fuel, supplies and - critically important issue - water: this is not only enabling them to survive even longer sieges (some of experiences from recent years have shown that even smaller YA brigades can easily survive up to 4-5 months-long sieges by the AQAP), but is important because otherwise there's so little water in Yemen. Keep in mind: not a single party there lacks arms or ammo (a reason more to belitle all the Saudi, US and Israeli reports about supposed Iranian arms deliveries), but everybody lacks water, and civilians lack fuel too.

Anyway, the point I actually want to make in regards of Yemeni brigades (whether those of the Army or the two of the Navy): because of their importance for civilian life, local media is quite straight in regards of reporting about them, making it relatively easy to establish a very precise ORBAT and follow related developments. Although it's sometimes unknown (to me) how are some of them equipped, their numbers are known, their bases and commanders too.

And now look at these figures:
- 44 brigades of the YA and YAF, and 2 of the YN have sided with Houthis meanwhile, and that figure is solid
- only 4 are confirmed to have sided with 'legitimacy' (i.e. Hadi), no matter what are Saudis babbling
- elements from 3 brigades appear to have sided with separatists (who are cooperating with Hadi, i.e. Saudis, but for their own reasons)
- 3 brigades were overun by AQAP
- status of about 30 other brigades remains unknown (nearly a third of these belong to the YAF, where it seems that most of units operating jet fighters didn't side with Houthis, but most of air-defence- and units equipped with helicopters and transport aircraft did).

This means: Saudis can babble and demand whatever they like about Hadi's 'legitimacy'. Fact on the ground is that more than 50% of the military has sided with Houthis. Fact is that it is this force that is represented in far huger numbers than Houthis (who might have perhaps five battalions of 'regulars'; rest of them are 'local militias'). Fact is that this is presently the strongest 'block' of power in Yemen. Fact is that this block is including not only Zaidis: about a dozen of units are almost exclusivelly manned by Shafis (Yemeni Sunnis). And, fact is that support of these 46 brigades for Houthis is not only 'nominal', yet 'passive' (like that of at least two brigades that sided with Hadi), but 'active': they are out on the battlefield, leading advances into southern Yemen, activelly engaging Hadi-loyalists, separatists, AQAP and the Daesh, or have joined the Houthis in deployments along the Saudi border.

And this means that demands (indeed: ultimatums) of the Saudi-led coalition are hopelessly unrealistic.

Even if Houthis would agree to disarm and withdraw into the Sa'ada province right now, as demanded by 'king' Salman, there would still be 46 brigades of the Yemeni military out there on the battlefields of this war, plus a large number of local/tribal militias supporting them. They're just too many but to simply 'evaporate'.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #162
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Related to above....

The situation in eastern Yemen - and that with related reporting in Western media - is meanwhile reminiscent of one where Keystone Cops would be trying to catch Laurel, Hardy and Charlie Chaplin...

Reuters is proudly reporting today:
Quote:
...in a blow to the Houthis, a Yemeni commander of a vast military district covering half the country's border with Saudi Arabia pledged support on Sunday to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, local officials said.

The announcement puts at least 15,000 troops in the desert and mountain border area on the same side as Saudi Arabia, which hosts the embattled Yemeni president in its capital Riyadh.

"Brigadier General Abdulrahman al-Halily of the First Military District announced today his support for constitutional legitimacy as represented by President Hadi," one of the officials told Reuters.
...
Namely, HQ of Halily's 1st Military District (MD) is in Handramawt. He's got only three brigades under his command. These are three of only four YA brigades 100% certain to have sided with Hadi, so far. What kind of a 'big blow to Houthis' should this be?

Furthermore, these three brigades might total 6,000 men, max. Let's add various support services etc: supply tail of the YA is nowhere near the size of that in Western militaries, so if he's got 8,000 in total, he's probably happy.

If Halily has put himself in command of the 2nd MD - which wouldn't surprise me, then this MD has its HQ in Hadramawt too - the situation is not getting any better, then three brigades of that command (23rd Infantry, 27th Mechanized, and the 190th Air Defence) were already overrun by the AQAP.

With other words: Hadi and Saudis are celebrating, and Reuters is sensationalising entirely useless and irrelevant information, related to reality as if somebody is declaring himself for a good cook because grass is green...

Makes no sense to you? It's making no sense to me either.

But wait: that's still not all.

The fourth YA brigade 100% confirmed to have sided with Hadi... the 35th Armoured in Taizz: Saudis are praising this unit for its 'attacks' on 'scattered gangs of Houthis', since something like a week.

Actually, the 35th was ignored by Houthis and YA in their rush to get Aden, so it remained active in their western flank. Was a 'calculated risk' operation: had they got Aden as expected, the 35th would've been left without a choice but to surrender.

OK, that didn't work, and now the 35th is 'torn in the side'. Theoretically. Matter of fact is that this unit didn't do anything at all in the last three weeks. It holed itself inside its own barracks. Meanwhile it's actually under multi-prong attacks of Houthis, plus the Special Security Force (YA), plus few other YA units. Wasn't it for increasingly fierce Saudi-led airstrikes, the 35th would've been overrun already days ago....

But here the point: newest local reports (some of which are already claiming the fall of the 35th) cite that this unit has now received reinforcements from militants of the Islah Party.

Hey, that's fantastic: Islah is closely affiliated with the Moslem Brotherhood. As even swallows on my roof know, Moslem Brotherhood was declared a 'terrorist organization' by Saudi Arabia, something like two years ago.

That means: Saudis, supported by US military (tanker aircraft, plus intelligence), are providing CAS for a group they consider 'terrorists', so these can fight genuine Yemenis that have proven the most fierce enemies of al-Qaida... and at the same time they're celebrating a YA General in Hadramawt for siding with Hadi, although he's lost half his command to AQAP, and even his very HQ is likely to get overrun by Jihadists too...?

Man, I really have problems typing this absurdity: this is so silly, I can't stop laughing...

Last edited by CrowBat; 1 Week Ago at 09:20 PM.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #163
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The Saudis continue to lie to themselves, first and foremost. Between others, in his briefing from yesterday, Asiri went on to babble that:
Quote:
“The coalition will continue to prevent the movement of Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen,” Gen. Ahmed Asiri told reporters in Riyadh.
He further stated that, 'Operation Decisive Storm had completed its objectives in Yemen by destroying the ballistic missile capabilities of the al Houthi movement and al Houthi-allied military units'.

As usually, events in Yemen have shown an entirely different picture, exposing complete Saudi inability to influence the ground battle. Indeed, how much have the Saudi-led coalition destroyed 'Houthi-allied military units' was seen already in hours immediately before his briefing.

Namely, the final round of Saudi-led air strikes foremost targeted Houthi and SSF in Taiz area. Nevertheless, shortly before the end of the Op Decisive Storm, Houthis and SSF have overrun the main base of the 35th Armoured Brigade (in the area of the 'old airport'):
Houthis take control of army brigade in Yemen’s Taiz (in Arabic).

The RSAF then flew an additional strike on the main base of this unit (apparently yesterday early in the morning), but it was already too late. Few scattered elements of this unit, plus militants of the Islah Party, are still active though, and the fighting is thus going on.

So, as expected, the war goes on, no matter what is anybody in Riyad daydreaming about.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #164
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On the sidelines of this war:
The Saudi prince who offered Bentleys to bombers
Quote:
...Earlier this week Saudi Arabia announced the end of the first phase of its military campaign in Yemen. And in a celebratory gesture Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the country's richest men and a member of the Saudi royal family, tweeted to his 3m followers on Twitter: "In appreciation of their role in this operation, I'm honoured to offer 100 Bentley cars to the 100 Saudi [fighter] pilots". [see here for the copy of the, meanwhile deleted, message]
...
The offer immediately split opinion. More than 28,000 people shared his post and over 5,000 liked it. The prince was hailed for his "generosity" and several Saudis commented that the pilots deserved luxury automobiles - and much more - for their military service.

But many outside Saudi Arabia, particularly in Yemen, found his offer outright offensive - and so an online backlash began. "100 Bentley cars to 100 pilots who bombed Yemen. Not single ambulance to its hospitals they devastated" remarked one Yemeni on Twitter.

Another Yemeni who had previously shared photos showing the destruction of his home following a Saudi air strike tweeted: "Prince Al Waleed gave 100 Bentleys to Saudi pilots. I got my apartment blown up. Yet I bet my spirits are higher than all those pilots."

Others pointed to the disparity between people's lives in Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, and those who live in relatively rich Saudi Arabia. "So that's what it's all about, what was it 100 or 200 lives for a Bentley, that's how cheap human life is," a Jordanian tweeted.

The original tweet offering the gifts has now been deleted, although screen grabs of it are still circulating online. Some Saudi media are now reporting that the prince's Twitter account was hacked. But there was no mention of any hacking on his tweeter feed - and he did not respond to Trending's request for comment.
...
Guess, various pilots involved in fighting the Daesh can only dream about such a 'pay increase'...

Last edited by CrowBat; 1 Week Ago at 08:37 AM.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #165
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Default AQAP assessment

A useful primer on AQAP in the Yemen, with details of attacks, locations and types etc - via WoTR:http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/wha.../?singlepage=1

The aithors conclude:
Quote:
While airstrikes in Yemen are changing the nature of AQAP’s battlespace, they are not yet fundamentally changing the strategic calculus behind a campaign that took shape and evolved well before the Saudi-led intervention.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #166
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Excellent write-up, thanks for 'heads-up', David.

Only thing I'm missing would be a closer look at increasingly intensive cooperation the AQAP is entering with various of local tribal councils.

They're defeinitely working on establishing permanent presence in most of Hadramawt.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #167
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...and now in Ma'arib too.

Local reports are indicating that a 'Houthi' force - supported by 10 tanks and 'artillery' (which means: Yemeni Army is involved too) - has reached outskirts of Ma'arib, yesterday.

This town was under the control of YA units that sided with Houthis, in late March. So much so, the Saudis were forced to bomb and knock out most of SAM-sites of the 180th Air Defence Brigade, early during their intervention.

Under subsequent - severe and frequently repeated - Saudi-led air strikes, most of YA units were forced to scatter, enabling a combination of AQAP and local popular committees to take over most of the town.

It seems this 'Houthi' force advancing on Ma'arib is now attempting to lift that 'siege'.

BTW, Saudi-led air strikes have repeatedly targeted that force, during the last two days, but they failed to stop it. At least so far.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #168
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I know we usually avoid pictures, videos and cartoons here, but an occasional exception can be made. This is especially for Crowbat. I am told the anchor is reacting to the Saudi "Mission accomplished" announcement on Hezbollah's TV (but I have no idea if that is true or not, maybe Crowbat can tell us what TV channel this is...or if this is made-up). From the 30 second mark.
Enjoy.
https://www.facebook.com/50768097932...8/?pnref=story
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