Fresh off killing scores of civilians in an airstrike on the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, Saudi Arabia has declared victory in their ongoing war against the Houthis, insisting the military objectives of “Operation Decisive Storm” have all been achieved.
For those keeping track, the initially stated goal was to reinstall former President Hadi, who is still living in exile in Riyadh. In the three weeks of strikes, hundreds of civilians have been killed, humanitarian resources are in short supply everywhere, Houthi forces are still contesting Aden with Hadi forces, and al-Qaeda has taken considerable territory in the east.
The declaration of victory and an end to the war doesn’t appear to mean an actual end to the war, however, as officials are announcing “Operation Renewal of Hope,” which will begin immediately, and will include military components. They’re describing it as an anti-terror operation, though the indications are that it will continue to focus on the Shi’ites, and not al-Qaeda.
Rather than a meaningful change in the nature of the war itself, it seems likely that what officials are doing is simply rebranding an unpopular war that has already created a huge humanitarian calamity into a new war with the same goals and participants, but which hasn’t gotten the bad reputation yet.
While officials are suggesting an “end” to the airstrikes, this may only be temporary, and the naval blockade keeping food out of the country seems set to continue.