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Stig Stenslie

Stig Stenslie  is assistant director general and head of the Asia Division of the Norwegian Defence Staff. He has held visiting fellowships at, among others, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo, the National University in Singapore and Columbia University in New York. He hold...
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“Decisive Storm”: Saudi Arabia’s attack on the Houthis in Yemen

Stig Stenslie, 11 May 2015

On March 26th 2015, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on the Houthis and their allies in Yemen. The operation,  “Decisive Storm”, was supported by a coalition of Sunni Muslim countries. The military campaign was initiated after Yemeni President ‘Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, on March 25th, asked the UN Security Council for assistance in stopping Houthi militia advancing towards Aden. For Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman, the military operation is beneficial for several reasons. First, the king hopes that the campaign against the Houthis will strengthen the standing of his son, Muhammad bin Salman, and that a successful end result will make the young prince respected as an effective leader. Second, Salman sees the attack on the Houthis – portrayed as clients of Iran – as an opportunity to rally support among Saudis for the new king and the monarchy. Third, by building a broad coalition behind the military campaign, King Salman seeks to establish Saudi hegemony in the Sunni Muslim world. The operation against the Yemeni Houthis reflects Saudi Arabia’s new adventurous, militaristic foreign policy, and comes with great risk. Hence, the new foreign policy doctrine is controversial within the royal family, and Salman’s decision to attack the Houthis was contested.

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