The Houthi armed group control a large swath of territory inside Saudi Arabia, The New Khalij has reported, however the kingdom has not mentioned this publically.
“The real story is about a cover-up of Saudi military embarrassment and the imminent risk of wider conflict from which Iran, at little cost to itself, will only profit,” Simon Henderson, Baker Fellow and Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Programme at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said.
“The Houthis effectively control a strip of Saudi territory several miles deep along the border, from opposite the city of Jizan eastwards to Najran – we are talking about 100 square miles of the kingdom, possibly more,” he added.
“There is some debate whether the land can be described as occupied or not, and occasionally the Saudi military makes forays into it, but essentially it serves as a launching area for Houthi attacks on Saudi military positions and border towns,” Henderson continued.
The Saudi-led coalition was invited by the internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to neutralise territorial threats by the Houthi armed group in March 2015. The Houthis took control of the capital Sana’a back in September 2014, with the assistance of an alliance of convenience with late and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his loyal forces.
Late last year, the Houthis killed Saleh, after he decided to sever the alliance and open talks with Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis regularly conduct military incursions inside Saudi Arabia and have upped the conflict by firing rockets deep into Saudi Arabia. The most notable missile travelled towards the capital Riyadh, though it was intercepted by Saudi security forces.
Saudi Arabia’s military strategy in Yemen has failed to break a three-year stalemate in favour of the Houthi group. After the killing of Saleh a new alliance led by Hadi took a small piece of territory near the west coast of Yemen. Yet the Houthis continue to hold Sana’a and the strategic port city of Hudaydah.
Internationally recognised President Hadi’s forces entered the Razih district neighbouring Jizan region in south-west Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia continues to support the offensive in Saada governorate in northern Yemen by way of air strikes.