LONDON — Jordan has sent several hundred troops from its special operations forces to help the Saudi military with its many Shi’ite units contain the Yemeni Shi’ite rebellion, which has spread deep into the Arab kingdom.ShareThis
Western intelligence sources said Jordan’s King Abdullah sent the SOF units to Saudi Arabia in November 2009. The sources said the Jordanian king was acting on an urgent request from his Saudi counterpart for elite soldiers who could hunt for Iranian-backed Shi’ite rebels in both Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen.
"The Saudis are in a panic mode and don’t have the troops or capabilities to stop the Yemeni Shi’ites," an intelligence source said.
The sources said Riyad’s need for foreign forces stemmed from a refusal by Shi’ite-dominated Saudi units to fight the Believing Youth. They said this has led to the dismantling of several local security units familiar with the Saudi-Yemeni border.
Saudi officials have not confirmed the assertion of the Western intelligence sources. But on Nov. 27, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled Bin Sultan acknowledged that Yemeni Shi’ite fighters held at least two southern Saudi villages for nearly a month. Later, officials said 15,000 Saudis had been evacuated from their homes.
The sources said Jordan has been the only Arab League state to respond to Saudi appeals for help in fighting the Iranian-backed Believing Youth movement. Believing Youth has been fighting an intermittent war in northern Yemen since 2004, but in November 2009 invaded southern Saudi Arabia and captured several border villages.
"The Saudi air force has been heavily bombing villages inside Yemen, but this has not made a dent in the capabilities of the Shi’ite rebels," the source said. "They have been well-trained by Iran and Hizbullah and have moved steadily north in Saudi Arabia."
The Saudi military has focused on trying to impose a blockade on northern Yemen. The Royal Saudi Naval Forces has bolstered its presence with at least four fast attack craft and missile boats and reported the destruction of weapons smuggling ships from neighboring Somalia.
"The infiltrating terrorists intended to attack our nation when they encroached upon our territories and terrorized our peaceful people," King Abdullah said in an address to his troops. "Undeterred by religion or ethical values, the intruders shed the blood of the people."