The War in Yemen Will End When the Houthis Are Defeated

Oct. 22 2021

The Biden administration took office with promises to “end” the civil war in Yemen and ease the humanitarian crisis there. And so it has reduced U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been supporting the country’s pre-2015 government against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and pressured Riyadh to scale down its military efforts. By doing so, Washington hopes it will encourage the two sides to negotiate a compromise, rather than simply encourage the Houthis to keep fighting until they conquer the whole country. Oved Lobel argues that this entire line of thinking is based on a fundamental misapprehension of the situation:

First, the war in Yemen is not a proxy war [between Riyadh and Tehran] and did not start with the Saudi-led coalition’s defensive intervention against the Houthi coup in 2015, when the group illegally seized power in alliance with its erstwhile enemy, the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Rather . . . the war is an extension of the Houthi jihad—what they call the “Quranic March”—unleashed under Iranian tutelage in 2004 to establish a theocratic, totalitarian Islamic state.

This ferocious jihad continued through 2010 and even through the Arab Spring protests in 2011, though this chronology is ignored by Houthi apologists in the U.S. government and the broader [foreign-policy-analysis] community. Ansar Allah, as the Houthis are formally known, is quite explicit: its non-negotiable intention is to expand its Islamic state across the Arabian Peninsula in order to fight Israel and what they view as the U.S. puppet regimes of the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia. Their anti-Semitism is such an integral part of their ideology that they recently completed their ethnic cleansing campaign, begun around 2007, against Yemeni Jews, [of whom there were only a handful].

The second prevalent misconception is that a Saudi blockade of Yemen is the main cause of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country. Leaving aside Saudi Arabia’s dubious capacity to enforce whatever blockade exists, it does not really impact imports such as food and oil. Moreover, multiple former and current U.S. officials involved in Yemen policy have testified that it is the Houthi regime, not the blockade, that is overwhelmingly responsible for the problems relating to humanitarian aid.

The most immediate concern, regardless of any broader Yemen or Iran policy, is helping the Saudis repulse the Houthi attack on Marib. Any realistic U.S. policy needs to recognize that almost all diplomatic engagement with the Houthis will be fruitless. . . . If the U.S. wishes to avoid a second Afghanistan, it must recognize the simple fact that—contrary to the incessant mantra “there is no military solution”—there is in fact no diplomatic solution currently on the horizon.

Read more at European Eye on Radicalization

More about: Anti-Semitism, Iran, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship