Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

News, December 2015


Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Share this article with your facebook friends


Yemen War Costs Saudi Coalition Billions of Dollars, Kuwait to Send Troops December 29, 2015 



A member of the Shi'i Huthi rebels stands guard as Yemeni Muslims take part in a rally in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, 2015



Kuwait to send troops to Saudi for Yemen war

December 29, 2015

Kuwait City (AFP) -

Kuwait has decided to send ground forces to take part in the war on Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, a local newspaper reported Tuesday.

Al-Qabas daily cited an informed source saying Kuwait's cabinet has approved sending the troops to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition against the rebels, as soon as early next week.

Kuwait's participation in the Yemen war has so far been limited to the airforce.

No details were provided about the size of the force.

Since March, Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the Huthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after they overran large parts of Yemen.

Kuwait has decided to send ground forces to take part in the war on Yemen's Houthi rebels, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Al-Qabas daily cited an informed source saying Kuwait's cabinet has approved sending the troops to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition against the Houthis, as soon as early next week.

No details were provided about the size of the force.

Since March, the Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after they overran large parts of Yemen.

Peace talks stalled 

On Monday, Saleh rejected further peace talks with the government, saying dialogue should instead take place with Saudi Arabia.

Saleh ruled Yemen for three decades and maintained good ties with Saudi Arabia before resigning in 2012 following a popular uprising against his rule.

In a speech late Sunday during a meeting with members of his General People's Congress (GPC) party, UN-sanctioned Saleh said "we will not take part in (future) dialogue... unless the war ends."

GPC representatives attended UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland last week. There was no major breakthrough in the talks but the parties agreed to meet again on 14  January.

A ceasefire began as the talks opened in Switzerland but was violated daily.

The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 5,800 people since the Saudi-led intervention began in March, according to UN figures.

- See more at:


The Saudi Town on the Frontline of Yemen's War

BBC, Glen Carey December 21, 2015 — 4:00 PM EST

Najran, few kilometers from frontier, regularly hit by shells Saudis defy budget squeeze to build border reinforcements

In Najran, the thump of artillery reverberates all day across a valley ringed by desert mountains along Saudi Arabia’s southern frontier with Yemen.

Security guards at an archaeological site outside the city barely register the blasts as Saudi land forces fire shells across the border. Like many in Najran, they’ve gotten used to the daily reality of a war that most Saudis only see on their TV screens, if at all.

For most of the nine-month conflict, the frontlines have been far south of the kingdom’s borders, around cities like Taiz and Aden, where the Saudis and their coalition partners pushed out Houthi rebels seen as allies of Iran. On the Saudi side, it’s only in Najran -- even if on a far smaller scale -- that war is having a direct impact.

The city’s airport is closed, forcing residents to travel almost 300 kilometers (186 miles) to the nearest alternative. Schools open then shut again, depending on the fighting. Once-busy markets are empty. Across the border, swaths of Yemen have been heavily bombed, leaving thousands of civilian casualties and refugees.

Failed Talks

“None of the people in Najran like this war,” said Hassan al-Wadee, a 57-year-old man whose shop sells the curved Yemeni daggers knowns as jambiyas. “We want this war to end.”

Efforts to halt the fighting have made little progress. UN-brokered peace talks resumed this month but a cease-fire quickly broke down, like earlier attempts, with each side accusing the other of breaching it. Another round of talks is due to start on Jan. 14 in Ethiopia.

The war is also a political test for the kingdom’s coming man, Deputy Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As defense minister, he’s in charge of it and stands to lose face if it fails.

For Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, the fighting is hampering efforts to rein in spending, with crude prices barely a third of their 2013 average. Saudi rulers are burning through savings to maintain economic growth, and will probably run a 20 percent budget deficit this year, according to the International Monetary Fund and economist surveys.

Lion’s Share

The coalition is spending $200 million a day on air, ground and sea operations in Yemen, David Ottaway, a senior scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, estimated this month. While there’s no official data on how costs are split up, outside observers suspect the Saudis -- the driving force behind a coalition that also includes the United Arab Emirates, as well as other nations playing a lesser role -- pick up the lion’s share.

On the highway between Najran and Abha, to the northwest, war spending is evident. Information Ministry employees point to dozens of new army encampments, built to stop the Houthis from attacking border posts. Trucks pulling military vehicles crawl up the steep passes, as forces rotate along the frontier area.

Across the border in Yemen, local resident Mohammed Ismail says the Saudis are shelling almost every hour.

“The Houthis are responding with mortars,” he said by phone. “They sometimes carry out attacks inside Saudi territory but withdraw under heavy shelling and airstrikes.”

Frankincense Trade

Najran is only a few kilometers from the border, and the other side is held by Houthi rebels and tribes loyal to them. Skirmishes have occurred since the war began in March and are now routine.

Rockets fired by the rebels regularly land in Najran’s center, eight months after the coalition’s spokesman said that most of the Houthi’s ammunition had been destroyed and their missile capabilities neutralized. Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri described attacks on the border as “isolated operations.”

Southern Saudi Arabia offers “the charm of heritage, monuments and pristine nature,” according to tourist brochures. But hotels are empty and there were no visitors at the ancient city of al-Ukhdud, where frankincense traders once passed on their way from Yemen to Mecca, Medina and the Levant. It’s mentioned in the Koran as the site of a massacre of Christians in 525 AD.

“We don’t have tourists any more, none at all,” said Mohammed Hussain, the manager of Najran Tours.

Yemeni Customs

A resident of Najran with a jambiya tucked in his belt. Photographer: Glen Carey/Bloomberg

The city, its population and its mud-brick architecture are as much Yemeni as Saudi. Local dress codes are different from Riyadh: the traditional white robe is less in evidence, and people wear jambiyas tucked in their belts. The staple food is Yemeni, too: Aseed, a dumpling-like dish made from flour and spices.

Najran was home to one of the peninsula’s Jewish communities, about 200 strong, before the Saudis captured it in 1934 -- with the help of a loan from Standard Oil of California, which Saudi leaders used to buy weapons and form a regular army, according to “The History of Saudi Arabia” by Alexei Vassiliev. By 1949, the Jewish population had fled -- to Yemen.

In his shop, al-Wadee pointed to a few older daggers he said were made by Jewish artisans. Sales are down, he says. For his 18-year-old son Misfer, being out of school is a disruption that his father uses to teach him his trade. “One week I’m at school, the next I’m at the shop,” he said, resigned to his changed routine.

Al-Wadee said he hopes the Saudis win the war, defeating what he says is Iranian aggression across the border. “I am asking God to help the Al Sauds,” he said.



Share this article with your facebook friends

Fair Use Notice

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &