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

 

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat