Why the U.S. Should Stand with Saudi Arabia in Its War in Yemen

This week, the Senate will likely vote in favor of ending American support for Riyadh in its war with the Iranian proxies known as the Houthis in Yemen. Tony Badran believes it would be a mistake to do so:

The notion, [put forward by some critics of the Saudis], that it was Riyadh’s intervention [in Yemen’s civil war] that “pushed” the Houthis into Iran’s arms is ludicrous, as their relationship goes back years before the war. In 2012, Gerald Feierstein, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen under President Barack Obama, explained that Hizballah was helping Iran extend its influence both in northern Yemen, via the Houthis, and in southern Yemen. Feierstein’s comments came after reports of increased arms smuggling by Iran to Yemen. In January 2013, [further] arms shipments were intercepted. Those shipments were found to be carrying a number of weapons systems from Iran, including surface-to-air missiles intended for the Houthis.

No sane government would accept a growing Iranian missile threat on its border: just ask Israel. More importantly, it is distinctly in the American interest to prevent Iran and its proxy militias, including sanctioned terror groups like Hizballah, from positioning missiles, speedboats, and other weapons on a waterway that is critically important for the global economy. Ensuring safe transit for ships carrying oil through that waterway is a crucial part of America’s role in the global security architecture that makes the functioning of Western economies possible.

The question of whether America sides with Iran or with Saudi Arabia is not a beauty contest between two distasteful Middle Eastern theocracies, neither one of which is particularly attractive by Western standards.

What matters more, Badran concludes, is where America’s interests lie.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen


Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations