The "Arabian war", also named the "Desert War", was a short conflict opposing Saudi Arabia to Persia, India and Ethiopia in December 1970 and January 1971. Sparked by the sudden invasion of Arabia by India, operations soon spread with the interventions of Persia, to the East, and Ethiopia, to the West, culminating in the separate Ethiopian-Arabian, Dammam and Riyadh treaties, which consecrated the partition of the peninsula between the three victors, and the abolition of the Saudi monarchy.
Prelude to the conflictEdit
In the years leading up to the war, Saudi Arabia had sided with the Ottoman Empire, and joined the CEL, leading its vast oil ressources for the purpose of Turkish expansionism. This created many tensions, albeit invisible, with the neighbouring countries, namely Ethiopia and Persia, fearful of the Turkish threat. Furthermore, the Saudi royal family, belonging to the Wahhabite sect of Sunni Islam, enforced a very strict form of Islam, and persecuted all other confessions and even branches of the same faith, particularly the Shi'a minority, implanted on the East coast. This last fact in particular exacerbated the already execrable relations with Persia, a Shi'a nation.
The ultimate trigger of the war, however, was the attack, totally unexpected, of India, on December 27th, 1970, of the ports of Salalah and Al Gaydah.
5 years later, India's reasons to fight a war in a far-away region have still not been fully understood. The Indian government declared in the immediate aftermath of the bombardment of Salalah that it was doing so to prevent the Ottoman Empire from further expanding. No further informations have been released since then.
Immediatly following the bombardments, the Indian army occupied the two coastal ports, from which it springboarded and raced through eastern Yemen, till the city of Sharoah, reached early in the night of the 27th to 28th December.
Following the surprise of the moment, the Saudi army regrouped, falling back on Ma'rib and Najran. Hard-pressed by both the Ethiopians and Indians, the Arabian forces yielded to the advancing Indian troops in Najran, whereupon they withdrew to As-Sullayyil, on December 29th. There, a battle quickly ensued, which lasted until January 4th, 1971. Over the following week, the Indians conquered one town after the other on the way to Riyadh. When the Dammam treaty was signed between Persia and Arabia, the Indians had just occupied the Saudi capital. The next day, Saudi Arabia capitulated.
Western frontEditEthiopia, in turn, intervened on December 28th, to protect Mecca and Medina from falling into unholy hands. After a short bombardment of Jeddah on that day, the Ethiopian forces circumvented the Arabian defensors and went straight for the Taif passes, the only passageway for reinforcements. After a bloody battle there, which dragged on until December 30th, which was finally won by the Ethiopian army, the Arabian army withdrew, and a cease-fire was signed later in the day, leaving the Hejaz to Ethiopia.
3 days after the bombardment of Salalah, Persia attacked, under the pretense of defending the Shi'a populations of Eastern Arabia from both the Wahhabites and Indians. It's armies occupied Manama first, on December 30th, followed by attacks on Dammam, Doha and Abu Dhabi the next day. All three cities were captured in the first offensive. In the following days, the entire east coast up to Sohar, Oman, was occupied, as well as the smaller oil-extracting towns in the north-east. The Persian offensive finally stalled on January 1st, in Al-Kharj, on the road to Riyadh, and Masqat, in Oman. On the 6th, the Persians finally took hold of Al-Kharj, whilst Masqat still resisted. On the 10th, a treaty was signed in Dammam, following the capture of Riyadh by the Indians, ceding the entire Eastern province, Qatar, Bahrein, the Trucial states and Oman to Persia, as well as all oil titles belonging to the Saudi monarchy.
Territorial modifications and geopolitical consequencesEdit
The most immediate effect of the war was the dismemberment of Arabia, shared between Ethiopia to the west and Persia to the east, with, between them, a rump state controlled by India, still officially ruled by the Saudi dynasty. Thus, Ethiopia now had hold of Islam's most holy sites, and Persia controlled all of Arabia's oil, making it the world's biggest oil producer and giving it the planet's biggest proven reserves of oil, as well as significant gas ones. The Ottoman empire had lost a close ally, and an access to much needed ressources, without which it could not conduct military operations.
Very quickly, though, the Saudi royal family was ousted from power by the Indians, helped by the anti-monarchists, which had remained hidden yet powerful during the previous period. Around the same time, Yemen seceded, and the now so-called Najd kingdom, too weak to react, let it be.
Perhaps the most important consequence of all, indirectly, was the collapse of the Indian central government. The main reason was persistent instability and civil warfare in the country, expressed by rampant terrorism, but the government's involvement in Arabia may have accelerated its decay and loss of control over the situation by overstretching its ressources at the moment when they were most needed back home.