Focus on US Troops in Yemen Masks Saudi Spy Ops

Saudi Agents With 'Unlimited Funds' Buy Influence Among Tribes

The Yemeni military’s offensive in Abyan Province over the past few months has brought considerable attention to the US ground troops deployed to the nation and the constant US drone strikes in the region.

While the US role cannot be underestimated, experts are saying that the focus is distracting from a much large foreign intervention in the country, the Saudi Arabian government’s massive spying operations.

“They can do what the Americans cannot do,” noted one analyst, while diplomats say that Saudi spies with “unlimited funds” have bought loyalty of tribes across inner Yemen and have networks of 30,000 agents nationwide.

The scheme is setting quite well with the US, as officials say that the Americans on the ground in Yemen much prefer working with Saudi spies to actual Yemenis. The new Yemeni regime seems to be shrugging this off, seeing it as the easy way to get foreign aid against their rivals, but the puppetization of the nation is likely to set off more anger among protesters who last year were hoping for democracy, and instead got a US-endorsed single candidate vote.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.