It is useful to refresh memory that Yemen and Saudi Arabia have scores to settle. Iran may not have to do much to see that the Saudis end up in a quagmire. I feel Iran anticipates such an eventuality. Iran will never get involved directly in Yemen. Historically, Iran’s relations with Yemen have been patchy. But Yemen matters to Iran because Shi’ite empowerment in yet another country brings the tsunami to the Saudi doorstep. By the way, the Houthis are hardened fighters and they will be fighting for their homeland. They don’t need Iranian advisers. They will be highly motivated. They have a long border with Saudi Arabia. Besides, Yemeni tribal politics is incredibly complex. As you know, Saudis had thought that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was their man, but now they realize that he is with the Houthis. How fast the alignments changed! As for the Pakistani role, to my mind (and information), Bruce Riedel didn’t read the tea leaves correctly as regards Nawaz Sharif’s summons to travel to Riyadh post-haste a month ago.The Sharif family has massive business interests in Saudi Arabia and Sharif is in no position to defy the Saudi diktat. Apart from Pakistan, there is no other participant who is capable of fighting a protracted guerrilla war. Kuwait, UAE, Tunisia, Jordan? You must be joking. Egypt is barely coping with the Sinai. And even for Pakistan, once the body bags begin returning to Pakistan, it remains to be seen how long Sharif can remain impervious to Pakistan’s own interests. Money cannot have the final say. The only solution will be a UN mediation to have a consensus reached on power-sharing, which is what Iran and Russia are aiming at. But if the Saudis press ahead, there is going to be big trouble ahead. And for a UN role, US will have to take Russian help. That will be a bitter pill to swallow for Washington.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

M.K. Bhadrakumar

M.K. Bhadrakumar is a former diplomat who served for more than 29 years as an Indian Foreign Service officer with postings including India’s ambassador to Turkey and Uzbekistan.

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