The Pakistani Army: to Protect the Saudi or to Engage in Yemen?

By Scott Morgan 

Just when you think that the situation in Yemen cannot get any more bizarre. Word has come down that Pakistani Forces are now on the ground in support of the Saudi led coalition efforts against the Houthi Militants. Even though reports suggest that these troops will remain on the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, there is a level of desperation among the planners in Riyadh.

The campaign is officially two years old now. What has happened during that period of time has not been pleasant to see or read. Random airstrikes that result in the deaths of hundreds of Yemeni citizens, Raids by elements of US Special Forces, Missile Strikes taking place against Saudi Targets and even the hiring of foreign mercenaries and the fear of a famine have made this conflict so tantalizing that it rarely leaves the front pages.

But the element of a Pakistani presence is very interesting. Last year when the Saudis announced their own coalition to deal with Islamic Extremism one of the nations that was announced as part of the alliance was Pakistan. After some initial push-back about whether or not the country was part of the alliance, the recent news that Pakistani Troops are currently on the ground are most interesting.

The Saudis have been forced to alter their tactics in this effort. On more than one occasion Saudi cities have come under missile attacks from the Houthis as well as military installations. Even a Saudi Naval Vessel came under attack already this year. So the Saudis have taken some necessary steps to disperse their forces. A deal has already been signed with Djibouti to house aircrafts - just one example of the Saudi concerns.

The recent attack on a vessel filled with Somali Migrants off the coast of Yemen is one of the most serious incidents so far, this year, and incident that raised several red flags. We know that the Somalis had new documentation provided by the United Nations. The vessel was also en route to Sudan, but since it was attacked by a Saudi Helicopter; we can infer that they had intelligence about a senior leader of AQIM or Al-Shabaab or even a Houthi possibly being on board.

Warnings of a famine in Yemen have been coming for a couple of years now. Most famines are man made events. Some of them have been imposed for political punishment such as what Stalin did to Ukraine in the late 1930s. Others are created when Governments are overwhelmed by poor decisions made to natural events such as what happened in Ethiopia, back in 1984. Clearly, the crisis caused by the Civil War has placed a strain on the Yemeni society that has caused the conditions for a famine to occur.

The introduction of Pakistani troops into this conflict shows the strategists in Riyadh feel that the National Guard may be overstretched beyond their initial capacity. This may be why we see elements from other countries, such as Sudan, participating as well as the hiring of mercenaries.

We are talking about a vital part of the world. It has been reported that 3% of the World’s Oil travels through the Bab-al-Mandeb on a Daily Basis. Any interruption could impact prices and further instability in other parts of the world.  This is why Yemen matters in the grand scheme of things...

(Imagem: Pakistani Army - BBC)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Hey Morgan,

    I would add another layer to this excellent piece: are the Saudis absolutely sure of this move, when we just learned that a Pakistani spy was caught working for the Iranians? We are talking about a trained individual working directly for the IRGC.

    Have the Saudis vetted everybody, in absolute terms?


  2. Why should the region matter when we want to get away from it? There are other oil suppliers, much closer with less problems.

  3. I would rate Pakistan's entry as a mercenary approach by Pakistan to augment an increasingly short treasury. It could also mean a Sunni ganging up against non Sunni Yemenis. though Pakistan would then have to worry about Iran with which it shares a long border!

  4. Hello Scott,

    "... it rarely leaves the front pages" Now I am really curious what front pages you are referring to, since I can't even find Yemen on the front page of the BBC. Here in San Francisco, Yemen is a protest movement on behalf of a new exotic type of transgender, so it has gotten a little press. Would love to see some links!

  5. Further to my comment dated March 21, 2017, this morning's Times of India had this to say.


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