Op-Ed: Houthis claim to have shot down Saudi Tornado jet

Posted Feb 15, 2020 by Ken Hanly
A Tornado jet belonging to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen has gone down. The official Saudi Press Agency said that the Saudi Air Force Tornado crashed in northern al-Jawf province.
Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri  spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition forces  speaks to the medi...
Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition forces, speaks to the media next to a replica of a Tornado fighter jet at the Riyadh airbase in the Saudi capital on March 26, 2014
Fayez Nureldine, AFP
Houthi rebels claim to have shot down the plane
Houthi broadcaster Al Masirah TV released a statement from Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saria saying they Houthis had show down the Tornado with an advanced air-to-ground missile.
Marwan Bishara, a senior political analyst for Al Jazeera noted that if Saria's report is true it could be a significant development in the Yemen war. Bishara said: "If they would have such a capability of missile batteries or land-to-air capacity against the Saudi air force, that would actually be a game changer."
Houthi spokesperson
Mohammed Abdelsalam boasted in a tweet: “The downing of a Tornado in the sky above Al-Jawf is a major blow to the enemy and an indication of remarkable growth in Yemeni (rebel) air defence capabilities.”
There is no discussion of where the advanced weapons come from. Perhaps, the US will accuse Iran of providing the weapons increasing already tense relations between the two countries.
Saudis respond with deadly air strikes near the crash area
On Saturday Al Masirah TV quoted Houthi health officials who claimed that at least 30 civilians were killed in the region where the Tornado had gone. A recent Digital Journal article reports on the raids and puts civilian casualties at 31. Reporter for Al Jazeera Mohammed al-Attab reporting from the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa said that Saudi fighter jets were intensifying attacks in the area. Youssef al-Hadira a spokesperson for the Houthi health ministry said that Saudi-led strikes were hampering rescue operations at the site. The fate of the crew of the plane has yet to be confirmed.
The Saud-led military coalition with other Gulf States such as the UAE intervened in the conflict after 2015 in support of the internationally recognized government of Mansur Hadi. Hadi had to flee to Saudi Arabia as the Houthis advanced. They still control much of the north of the country although pro-Hadi forces supported by the Saudis and the UAE control Aden and other southern areas.
The situation is complicated by the role of the Southern Transitional Council the main southern separatist groups who are working for an independent southern Yemen as had existed in the past. With the aid of the UAE the group had seized control of Aden and the surrounding areas. An agreement ended this bitter fight between the UAE and the Saudis who were allied against the Houthis. The STC were to be given cabinet positions in the Hadi government. However Hadi supporters were unhappy with this solution and appear to have resisted attempts to carry it out.
It may very well be that the Saudis are getting tired of the Hadi government resisting the agreement. The Saudis would like to end this costly war. Saudi bombing practices have led to international condemnation.. There have been back-channel negotiations in Oman that have given some hope of reconciliation. However, there is continuing violence on the ground up to now. However, there is the possibility that a solution can be found that gives the separatists their independent country in the south and the Houthis control over the north with some Hadi supporters being offered positions in the Houthi government. If Hadi does not like it he could be left in a position so weak he would be virtually irrelevant.
The conflict has seen tens of thousands killed and millions reduced to the brink of famine in what the UN has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The appended video purports to show the shooting down of the Tornado. However, there are dozens of missiles being shot. One wonders how the Houthi could have this many.