The Saudi Intervention in Yemen: Struggling for Status
April 1, 2018
On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on Yemen with the aim of restoring the rule of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and destroying the Houthi movement. Scholars and policy analysts moved quickly to examine the Yemen war as a sectarian struggle and a byproduct of Saudi-Iranian rivalry in the region. However, these traditional explanations fall short of unravelling the Saudi motive behind launching a large-scale operation in Yemen, its severely weakened and politically divided neighbor. This paper offers an alternative explanation for the abrupt Saudi aggressiveness toward Yemen. It argues that this intervention is driven by a non-material need: Saudi leadership aims to assert the Kingdom’s status as a regional power in the Middle East.