Utterances.net edited by Jalel Harchaoui.
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How involved is Iran in triggering the Yemen war?
by Jalel Harchaoui.
The standard perception of the bombing launched on 26-Mar-15 has been that Iran left no choice to Saudi Arabia but to get drawn into a proxy war on Yemeni soil. Has the still-ongoing conflict really been triggered by Tehran’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs? Even the Establishment press says ‘no’.
How involved is Iran in triggering the Yemen war?

Air strike near Sanaa Airport.

The official narrative is that “Shiite Iran, Saudi’s main rival for power and influence in the Middle East, backs the Houthis” in Yemen (WSJ, 26-Mar-15). The Financial Times on 27-Mar-15 explains the illegal bombing campaign thus: “Riyadh considers Iranian backing for advancing rebels in Yemen as a step too far–Yemen is the Saudi backyard after all.” In other words, the attacker is Tehran, via malevolent interference into Yemen’s internal affairs. Saudi Arabia, Washington, et al., are only defending Yemen against the Persians, who manipulate the 45% of Yemeni population that are Shia.

If one steps back a minute, however, one discovers that “the Iran card has been overplayed a bit,” (Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemen expert and fellow at Pembroke College Oxford, not exactly a Marxist institution, quoted by VICE on 26-Mar-15). “The Iranians [certainly] haven’t helped matters by claiming a hand in the Houthi success. We know beyond any reasonable doubt that Iran has been helping the Houthis—but do they have a control? It is very unlikely.”

Furthermore, two weeks prior to 25-Mar-15’s dramatic move by Riyadh, Doha, et al., Foreign Affairs Magazine—not quite a dissident publication, either, but, rather, the epitome of U.S. Establishment—published an article by Alex Vatanka, a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. The article asserts that while “Iran may have been happy to see Yemen’s pro-Western government ousted” in Jan. 2015, “Tehran’s influence there is far more limited than many assume”.

Separately, “Stephen Seche, a former American ambassador to Yemen, said that the Houthis had rarely defined their struggle in Yemen in [Shia vs. Sunni] sectarian terms and that their ties to Iran had been overstated by Gulf nations” (NYT, 27-Mar-15).

The WSJ itself, an enthusiastic supporter of the illegal invasion of Yemen by the Washington camp, revealed on 06-Mar-15 that “the Houthis’ interim government has sent delegations to Iran in search of fuel supplies. [...] Yemen’s Houthis seek Iran [...] ties”. Can one imagine South Lebanon’s armed organization Hezbollah or Syria’s al-Assad dictatorship “seeking Iran ties”? Of course not. A military formation cannot possibly seek ties that it already possesses.

As the Yemen experts quoted above acknowledge, Iran is happy to offer limited assistance to the Houthis, yes, but that is not the factor that triggered the illegal military intervention launched by Saudi Arabia and the United States on 25-Mar-15. Even if Iran didn’t exist on this planet, the illegal military intervention would have been initiated just the same.

Whenever a possible example of Shia self-determination emerges in the region (the Houthis in Yemen’s case), the Washington camp as a whole moves in forcefully.

Much more forcefully than against Sunni terror networks, such as ISIS or al-Qaeda.

The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is a predominantly-Shia-populated region and all the kingdom’s oil reserves happen to be concentrated there. All means are therefore to be utilized to make sure Saudi Arabia’s 2.1 million Shia remain marginalized and suppressed. No example of Shia self-determination must exist nearby in any way, shape or form. The oil wealth must remain in the hands of the Saud family.

~ Jalel Harchaoui.