PEJOURNAL – Ansarullah’s (Yemen’s Houthi movement) successful offensive-defensive operations over the past year have owed a remarkable shift in its military capabilities. The present article examines the evolution of Ansarullah’s military-weapons capability and its impact on changing the balance of war.
Carrying weapons by the Yemeni people and tribes has long been an accepted tradition. Yemen is said to have more than three times the population of weapons. This has intensified in recent years due to the critical situation in Yemen, and even Yemeni children are able to carry and use weapons without any restrictions.
As one of Yemen’s frontier tribes with a long history of governance and in recent decades in constant conflict with the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and Saudi Arabia, the Houthis will inevitably have a higher level of military and weapons readiness than Other Yemeni tribes have figured out their capabilities in the field of missiles and defense today, trapping the Saudi coalition in the Yemeni quagmire with their indigenous capabilities and by penetrating deep into enemy territory and hitting vital facilities and its economic arteries, they have shifted the balance in their favor. In this article, while reviewing the situation of carrying weapons in Yemen and describing the six wars, the military capability of Ansarullah Yemen is examined.
A survey of the situation of carrying weapons by the Yemeni people and tribes
Tribes play a prominent role in the power structure of Arab countries, including Yemen. Tribes, while having extensive political influence in these countries, also have defensive capabilities. In other words, the tribal structure is the factor that causes the large distribution of weapons among the Yemeni people. In Yemen, it is customary for every boy who reaches adulthood to be given a Kalashnikov (AK-47) and a knife.
This shows that most Yemeni men are professional fighters. It has long been said that three times the population of Yemen, there is a Kalashnikov in this country. On the other hand, before the start of the war against Yemen, the country was known as a haven for international arms smugglers. The arms trade in Yemen was so booming that some say any weapon could be procured from the country.
Carrying weapons has long been accepted by the Yemeni people and tribes as an accepted tradition. This has intensified in recent years due to the critical situation in Yemen, and even Yemeni children are able to carry and use weapons without any restrictions.
A brief description of the Six Wars as the starting point for Ansarullah’s military and armaments development
The Six Wars lasted from June 2004 to February 2010 between the Houthis and the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Decades of ethnic, political, and religious discrimination against the Zaidiyyah provided a suitable background for a profound transformation in Yemeni political history. The presence of Yemen as the most important US ally in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, the presence of US military and intelligence forces in the country, as well as the secret trips of some Israeli delegations to Sanaa, which was met with numerous protests from Hussein al-Houthi and his allies.
Hussein al-Houthi declared the famous and five-part slogan “Allah Akbar, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse to the Jewish and Victory to Islam” as the official slogan of the Shias in the region, and many Yemenis welcomed the invitation and this slogan was chanted from every ceremony and Friday prayer, and even during the Friday prayer at the Sanaa Grand Mosque in the Yemeni capital. Their insistence on these slogans caused government officials even more concern than al-Qaeda, and led to the armed resistance against the Zaidiyyah, which by 2010 had six struggles against the movement.
Clashes between 2004 and 2010 killed nearly 4,000 troops on both sides and displaced more than 200,000, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In the first war, the Houthis had few weapons, so they suffered heavy casualties, but during the six wars, the group gradually gained many weapons. Smuggling and the arms trade were one of the most important features of Yemen’s six wars.
International bodies such as the United Nations reported that there were between 40 million and 60 million weapons in Yemen, which most of the weapons are in the northern regions of the country, the places where Ansarullah and its supporters are present, there were. Most of these weapons were also light weapons. Ansarullah also looted a lot of equipment from the Yemeni army during these wars. However, in these wars, Ansarullah and his allies learned various tactics of fighting, especially guerrilla warfare, and their troops received the necessary training for guerrilla and ground warfare.
In fact, the Six Wars were the starting point for a change in military power of Yemeni Ansarullah. This experience, along with the strengthening of Ansarullah’s defense and UAV capabilities, has become the scourge of the Al Saud borrowed forces and has changed the battlefield in favor of Ansarullah and Yemen. In fact, the acquisition of heavy military equipment, along with manpower tested especially in the guerrilla and irregular wars from 2004 to 2010, is one of the main reasons for the success of the Yemeni army and popular committees against the fully armed Saudi army with mercenary manpower.
Study of missile reserves and missile engineering capability of Yemen in the period of Ali Abdullah Saleh
Ali Abdullah Saleh took power in Yemen in 1978 as a military officer. During the 40 years of Abdullah Saleh’s rule in Yemen, the number of army personnel in Yemen increased from 3,300 to 66,700. The Yemeni armed forces became powerful during the time of Abdullah Saleh. Smuggling, especially the smuggling of fuel and food and the re-export of weapons to countries such as Sudan, became a factor in the enrichment of the armed forces under Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Although there is no accurate information about the military capabilities of the Yemeni army during the time of Abdullah Saleh, in general it can be said that the Yemeni army had Western and Russian equipment during the time of Saleh. The United States began sending military aid to Yemen in the early 2000s, which increased during the Sixth War. The United States provided a total of $ 5.9 billion in military aid to Yemen from 2000 to 2020.
Yemen also stockpiled large quantities of Russian weapons under Ali Abdullah Saleh. Meanwhile, the Yemeni government and army during the time of Abdullah Saleh and during the six wars with the Houthis were also supported by the Arab Gulf states and received many weapons from these countries, especially Saudi Arabia. An important part of Yemen’s military reserves(resources) is related to its purchases from the former Soviet Union and the United States, which remained in Yemen’s weapons depots.
Some of the Yemeni army’s modern equipment is upgraded from weapons it received from the former Soviet Union and the United States. In an interview with the Kayhan newspaper in February, Ibrahim al-Dailami, the Yemeni ambassador to Iran, noted that decades ago, Yemen was full of weapons made by China, Russia, the United States and Yugoslavia.
The Rasad UAV is the same Sky Walker X8 reconnaissance UAV that was purchased by the Yemeni army in the pre-war period. The “rival” UAV is the name chosen for the American RQ11Raven UAV purchased by the Yemeni army. The Yemeni military also had Scud missiles with a range of 600 to 700 km, and the Hwasung 5 and 6 missiles, which were themselves licensed under the Russian Scud missile, purchased from North Korea in the 1980s. The former Soviet-built S75 missile, the Tochka, S24 and Grad missiles were among the Yemeni army’s missile stockpiles under Abdullah Saleh, which was used in the war against the Saudi coalition.
However, two points about the Yemeni army are mandatory. First; The Yemeni army was exhausted and worn out in the six wars, leaving a huge number of dead. The army was severely corrupted financially and administratively, and the salaries of the soldiers were taken by the commanders. The army was torn apart by widespread corruption and tribal affiliations. Since the beginning of the popular uprising against Abdullah Saleh in 2011, the army has almost disintegrated. Secondly; The current capabilities of the Yemeni People’s Committees and the Army, which were fired, especially inside Saudi Arabia, to a depth of 1,200 kilometers, are from recent years and are considered native capability.
Investigation of Ansarullah defense systems and dimensions of national and regional effectiveness in aggregation with missile-UAV offensive capability
The Yemeni army proved its deterrent power, especially in the fifth year of the war, by conducting several operations against the Saudi coalition. In the fifth year of the war, the balance of power on the battlefield has changed due to the strengthening of Yemen’s defense and missile power; In a way, Saudi Arabia suffered a lot of damage.
Numerous operations against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, including the Baqiq and Kharis facilities, which halted half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, Operation “Nasro Men Allah”, in which thousands of Saudi mercenaries were captured and lots of equipment was looted, and Operation Bonyan al-Marsous, which It killed 1,500 Saudi mercenaries and liberated more than 2,500 kilometers of occupied territory, one of the most important operations carried out by the Yemeni army and popular committees against the Saudi coalition using its UAV and missile capabilities. Some of the most important UAVs of the Yemeni army and popular committees are as follow:
The range of this UAV has a range of 30 km, which due to the small size and cross-sectional area of the radar (RCS), the possibility of detection and attempt to shoot it down with air defense systems is low, the probability of targeting it with laser missiles is low and its sound can hardly be heard in the sky.
Rival (RAGHIB) UAV
This UAV has a range of 15 km and has functions such as direct observation of targets and battlefield, detection of events related to enemy gatherings and equipment, and is equipped with accurate laser tracking and tracking system and uses various imaging techniques, including thermal imaging. It is easy to carry in rugged areas and with infantry battalions.
The UAV has a range of 35 km, operates with an electric motor and its mission is to monitor targets and instantaneous monitoring of the battlefield, is equipped with the latest imaging technology and is also equipped with a special system for topography and mapping.
QASEF 1 and K2 UAVs
Qasef UAVs have far more range than Hudhud, rival and observation UAVs. The operations of the Yemeni army and popular committees against the positions of the Saudi coalition and Mansour Hadi’s mercenaries inside Yemen are carried out with short- and medium-range UAVs such as the Q2 Qasef UAV.
Samad UAVs, which include Samad 1, 2 and 3, are the most important UAVs of the Yemeni army and popular committees, which have an overseas mission. Samad 1 UAV, which is for intelligence purposes, can fly more than 500 kilometers and has the ability to observe targets and provide information directly to the operating room. Samad 2 is a long-range reconnaissance UAV, but Samad 3 is an attack UAV that has an explosive warhead and can attack its targets at a distance of 1700 km from the origin. Samad 3 attack UAV has advanced technology that radars cannot intercept. In August 2019, the Yemeni army targeted Abu Dhabi Airport for the first time with a Samad 3 UAV.
The Yemeni army and popular committees, in addition to having a variety of UAVs, also have important missiles, some of the most important of which are:
SAQEB 1, 2 and 3 missiles
Respectively these missiles are based on the Russian R-73 short-range missiles and the R-27T and R-77 short-range missiles, Developed.
The Fater-1 missile is developed from the Russian Sam-6. The Fater 1 system shot down the American MQ9 UAV in October 2017.
BADR P1 and BADR F missiles
These missiles are among the Yemeni short-range missiles. This missile is similar to the Russian Tochka missile. Badr F, which is newer than Badr P1, has a range of 160 km.
The Quds missile is a type of winged cruise missiles. Winged cruise missiles are a class of aerial self-propelled guns. These missiles have automatic interceptors and their targeting is very accurate and they can even target objects the size of a car.
Zulfiqar long-range ballistic missile
The Zulfiqar ballistic missile is a Yemeni surface-to-surface missile that was unveiled in February 2020. This missile is an advanced and updated model similar to the new generation of long-range missiles with a range of 1300 km. The Yemeni army and popular committees used Quds and Zulfiqar missiles along with Samad UAVs in Operation Third Balance.
Qaher 1 and M2 missiles
The Qaher 1 is a ballistic missile that can accurately target targets at a distance of 500 km. The Qaher M2 ballistic missile is an advanced version of the Qaher 1 missile capable of carrying a 350 kg warhead. The unique feature of the Qaher M2 missile is its high accuracy in hitting targets with an accuracy of 5 to 10 meters.
VOLCAN 1, 2 and 3 missiles
The Volcan missiles are one of the major achievements of the Yemeni Army and People’s Committees, an advanced and indigenous version of the Soviet-era short-range Scud missiles. The Volcan3 is an upgraded 1 and 2 Volcan missile with an estimated range of 1,300 to 1,800 kilometers. The Yemeni army and popular committees used Volcan3 in Operation al-Dammam, 1,200 km from Sanaa.
With the start of the war against Yemen on March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia sought to prevent Ansarallah from gaining power in the Yemeni power structure, but five years later, Yemeni Ansarallah became the most important and organized group in the Yemeni power structure. The escalation of Ansar allah’s power in Yemen has taken place by strengthening its deterrent capability in the form of increasing defense capabilities, including UAVs and missiles.
Today, Ansarallah has missiles and UAVs with different functions inside and outside Yemen, such as shortening the positions of the Saudi coalition and the mercenaries of the resigned government with UAVs and missiles, and targets the positions of Saudi Arabia and the UAE inside the country with Samad 3 UAVs or Volcan missiles. 3. This situation has caused a fundamental shift in the balance of power in the Yemeni war so that the Yemeni army and popular committees on the ground and in the air have the ability to damage and inflict heavy damage on the Saudi coalition. This situation could lead to more potential damage to Saudi Arabia as the war enters its sixth year.