By Vladimir Gujanicic
Dozens of attacks carried out by the northern Yemeni army and the Houthi (officially Ansar Allah) movement on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia shocked the whole world. The whole world is waiting for tomorrow’s opening of the stock exchanges and the impact of the attack on oil prices on the world market. Much more important than the consequences, however, are the obvious critical flaws of US military doctrine that gave rise to misguided strategic planning that has had catastrophic consequences for US allies in the Middle East and therefore America itself.
North Yemen has so far carried out numerous attacks on Saudi Arabia showing that Saudi Arabia itself is also vulnerable and their citizens and facilities can also suffer considerable damage. The targets of retaliation from Yemen were military and civilian airports, oil plants, but also cities. What has caught everyone’s eye is the high success rate of Yemeni missiles. However, such attacks were not yet massive and could not strike a decisive blow to Saudi Arabia.
In recent months, the Houthis and their allies in Iran have come back to the old idea of ultra-low-speed aircraft, which are difficult to track and even harder to bring down if there are no adequate air-defense systems. Similar attempts were made, but with far more primitive drones, by terrorists from the Idlib province attacking the Russian Khmeimim Air Base. However, the sheer effectiveness of the Russian Pantsir missile systems protecting the airbase prevented any effective air defense penetration, which kept the Russian aircraft and facilities virtually intact, with just one minor exception. We should also take into account that the Russian Khmeimim Air Base is relatively close to the frontlines.
Russian air defense technology is far ahead of the US in both short and long-range systems.
The opposite effect can be seen in Saudi Arabia. Yemeni Qasef K-2 drones, manufactured with Iranian technical assistance, have an incredible success rate. From the effects of these suicide drones so far, the following conclusions can be drawn. The Houthis and their allies found the Saudi Achilles’ heel and, at the same time, they revealed the critical weaknesses of the American military doctrine. The Houthis have found a far cheaper method than simply launching missiles, and with far greater success rate too. Saudi Arabia, which is a regular recipient of latest US military tech, does not have a short-range system which could protect strategic assets, which is why rapid testing of the new short-range system has begun in America, although with a considerable delay.
The American doctrine of offensive war brought the country to a dead end because it was based on a standpoint that America would exclusively lead victorious, offensive wars and that the US and its allies and satellites around the world had no need for defensive capabilities, in this particular case, good air defenses. That is, defensive weapons may exist, but they should be very limited because victory is already assured. The sobering effect that came after the recent attacks in Yemen has caused major upheaval and controversy among military tech experts and enthusiasts. Russian air defense technology is far ahead of the US in both short and long-range systems. Not only is America lagging behind Russia, but China and Iran as well, both of whom have embraced Russia’s doctrine of developing advanced anti-air defense systems.
Even copying foreign systems would be a blessing for America at this point. The American offensive doctrine has now backfired in Saudi Arabia and authorities in Riyadh are looking to Washington in the hope that it will soon help them stop the attacks from Yemen. Everything about this war in the Middle East is connected. If the Houthis successfully carry out several more such attacks on oil plants in Arabia, the oil price would likely surge dramatically and Moscow, Tehran, Caracas, and Baghdad would be rubbing their hands. We must not forget President Donald Trump’s words, “The price of oil must not rise”. The point is very simple. Saudi Arabia, along with Israel, is America’s main ally in the Middle East and in cooperation with America, they have waged the “oil price war” on Russia multiple times already. If America fails to protect Saudi Arabia from Yemeni attacks, the entire US strategy against Russia, Iran, and Venezuela will be strategically impossible.
NOTE: This article first appeared at fort-russ.com.