The Houthis Are Apt to Win the War in Yemen. The U.S. Needs a Plan for What Happens When They Do

Since coming to office, the Biden administration has made promises to use diplomacy “to end the war in Yemen,” a conflict that pits the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and a few other factions. Supporting the latter are Saudi Arabia and a coalition of pro-Western Arab states. Since a U.S. military intervention is unlikely, the war can end only with a Houthi victory. David Schenker considers the situation:

Riyadh doesn’t need any persuasion to want to end the war. In fact, in recent years, the Saudis have engaged in what are, by all accounts, good-faith talks on the future of Yemen, including with arch-foe Iran. The problem is the Houthis, who have proved consistently recalcitrant and are now playing for time as they make slow but steady progress. . . . The Houthi inclination toward a military rather than a negotiated solution is paying off. Two years into their military campaign in Marib—a strategic governorate named for its capital city—the rebels are on the verge of conquering both.

If they [succeed], the Houthis would essentially have won the war. For Riyadh, Washington, and the Yemeni people, this represents a worst-case scenario. Even if the war were to end, the humanitarian situation would remain critical, with two-thirds of Yemen’s 30 million citizens continuing to face famine. . . . Meanwhile, Iranian proxies will control another Arab country, and Saudi Arabia will remain vulnerable to missile and drone attacks from its southern neighbor.

Notwithstanding President Joe Biden’s obvious antipathy toward the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, the first order of business [in that event] will be to bolster the kingdom’s defensive capabilities. . . . Perhaps most importantly, to prevent Iran from fully completing its project of recreating a Hizballah-like entity on Saudi Arabia’s southern front once the Houthis gain control, the Biden administration will need to reinvigorate the 2015 UN arms embargo on Yemen.

Should the Biden administration fail, the risk is not just that more and increasingly advanced weaponry with Iranian components will be pointed from Yemen toward Riyadh. Concerned about Houthi and Iranian intentions, the Israelis twice this year deployed Patriot and Iron Dome missile-defense batteries against potential missiles and drones emanating from Yemen.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, 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