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The Sa’ada conflict in northern Yemen has firmly become a Saudi conflict. A number of Saudi Houthi fighters have been killed or captured on both sides. The Saudi government is reported to be speeding up plans to seal-off the Saudi-Yemeni border.

 

Senior Saudi officials, including the King, have visited the conflict zone, indicating the seriousness of the situation. There are also reports that other regional states have offered logistical and troops support to the Saudi forces, who may not be adequately trained to fight in the mountainous region.

 

December 1-15, 2009

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: increasing risk

 

The longer the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the rebels continue, the greater the risk of it turning into a local Saudi problem. So far, fighting has been between the Saudi forces and Houthi rebels, on both sides of the border. However, as the conflict protracts, the Saudi authorities are obliged to take measures that may antagonize the local Saudis, particularly Shiites in the Najran area. This increases the likelihood of local Shiite Saudis engaging in the fight against the Saudi forces, on the side of the Shiite Houthi rebels. If this happens, it may even spread to other parts of the kingdom and the Gulf in general, thus presenting a serious internal and regional stability threat.