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Airstrikes Could Lead Coalition to Actual War With Yemen - Ex-DoD Official

© Sputnik/Faisal al ShabibiSanaa
Sanaa - Sputnik International
David Des Roches warned that without an inclusive political settlement in addition to the military operation, Saudi Arabia and its partners could face an actual war with Yemen, as airstrikes catalyze opposition.

Militiamen loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions at a street in Aden, Yemen, Thursday, April 2, 2015. - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The effect of the Saudi Arabian-led air campaign against Houthis in Yemen could solidify the country's opposition as the airstrikes become less effective, David Des Roches, former director of the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Office at the US Department of Defense (DoD), said Thursday.

"If the airstrikes continue outside the context of an overall political settlement, Yemeni opposition to the coalition will harden, not just among the Houthis but among average Yemenis," Des Roches said at an event sponsored by the National Council on US-Arab Relations.

Des Roches warned that without an inclusive political settlement in addition to the military operation Saudi Arabia and its partners "may find that what they thought was a proxy war with Iran will transform into an actual war with Yemen."

Sanaa, Yemen - Sputnik International
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The former Pentagon official explained that there must be a political solution in Yemen, not just military action, particularly with an over-reliance on airstrikes.

"As the air campaign grinds on…its effectiveness will decrease not arithmetically but exponentially," Des Roches noted.

Missile depots, aircraft hangars, runways and other military targets have already been destroyed by the Saudi-led alliance. But other targets may be dispersed among civilians or in areas such as mountain valleys where such targets can be defended by anti-aircraft artillery traps, he warned.

The United Nations has reported approximately 100 civilian casualties and more than 350 civilians injured in the course of the Saudi-led military efforts.

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Des Roches further remarked that ground troop operations, either from the mountainous north or an assault on the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa from the Red Sea, would be "ill-advised."

According to reports given to Sputnik, the coalition is mounting an assault on the Gulf of Aden, where Houthis currently maintain control. Saudi and Egyptian ships have been deployed, along with air assets, but there have been no confirmed official reports of a ground operation.

On March 25, an international coalition headed by Saudi Arabia launched a military operation against Houthi positions in Yemen following a request for military support from Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

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