About a month ago, the Saudis started hosting large military exercises, involving 20 allied nations. This has been its first greatest attempt to join the Islamic Coalition established last year. The kingdom admits that this is the most essential concentration of military forces in the area since 1991.
According to the data revealed by local media, about 350,000 troops are located there, and this is far from being the final figure.
There were some signs of massed formations of infantry. However, the Saudi command refused to present any exact figures, saying that it was not of great importance. It encourages suggestion that the actual number of armed forces can be not as large as they expected.
Meanwhile, the air force part is quite impressive. There are Saudi Typhoons, F15s, Qatari Mirage jets, as well as Egyptian, Jordanian and Bahraini F16 planes at King Saud Airbase. The ground is dotted with Kuwaiti artillery and the UAE tanks.
According to the army’s spokesperson Brig Gen Ahmad al-Assiri, they are busy with checking their airbases, seaports and all the infrastructures connected just in order to test if Saudis are able to host the coalition. He added that the Islamic Coalition should be able to carry out all the types of war missions, from conventional battle to guerrilla warfare.
Many nations have been involved in such military exercises, as Mali tries to cope with al-Qaeda and Pakistan fights against the Taliban.
However, Saudi Arabia feels to be the most threatened of all. The country’s military forces take part in Yemen Civil War in the south. Its aircrafts are also located in the north to fight Daesh. By the way, the terrorists have already carried out several attacks in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the country has started to feel great pressure that comes from Hezbollah, Iraqi Shia rebels and Yemen’s Houthi rebels supported by Iran.
Answering the question if Saudi Arabia could afford two wars in Syria and Yemen, Gen al-Assiri said that this would be extreme, both from the point of view of resources and people. According to his words, the core reason for Saudi Arabia’s fears is that its forces are too stretched out between the south and the north and the formations cannot be concentrated immediately.
These two campaigns have started at the time when Saudi Arabia faces many difficulties. First of all, the main complication is that oil prices have been reduced by more than 60% in comparison to their highest levels. This in its turn led to budget shortfalls and reduction in the number of contracts.
The war in Yemen is greedily consuming the wealth of Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Riyadh has to take into account that the world’s opposition to its air strikes in Yemen has been increasing, as in the last 12 months its warplanes killed about 6,000 people.