March 25, 2015
BBC News

Yemen Crisis: An Iranian-Saudi Battleground?

by Frank Gardner

Yemen is fast descending into a violent cauldron where the competing interests of Shia Houthi rebels, Sunni tribes, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, Iran, al-Qaeda and now Islamic State are forming a toxic mix. . . .

If Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states get drawn in one side, and Iran on another, the conflict risks getting exponentially worse.

"The looming danger is seeing Yemen merely as a proxy war between the Gulf Co-operation Council states and Iran," says Jon Altman, Middle East programme director at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

"Iran is clearly giving some support to the Houthis, but over the last 10 years that support has been limited and slow to arrive.

"There are no indications that the government of Iran sees Yemen as a strategic priority. If the proxy war route is pursued, the conflict is likely to rage for years." . . .


"America's 'Secret' War on Yemen," The Wisdom Fund, June 8, 2011

Peter Langer, "The Ultimate Traveller in Yemen," February 8, 2012

Robert Fisk, "An old hand is at work in Yemen's bloody civil war,", January 21, 2015

Maria Abi-Habib and Dion Nissenbaum, "Yemen's Government Falls Amid Standoff: President, Cabinet Resign After Militia Goes Back on Political Deal, Raising Doubts About U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy,", January 22, 2015

[On Sept. 10, Obama pointed to Yemen as a success--Mark Seibel, "U.S. pulls out of Yemen as country sinks into anarchy,", March 22, 2015]

"Factbox: Leading factions in Yemen's crisis,", March 23, 2015

[Operation "Storm of Resolve" is being led by Saudi Arabia, and includes countries from across the region, and is backed by the UK, the US, Turkey and Pakistan.--Jeremy Bowen, "Saudi Arabia attacks Houthi rebels in Yemen,", March 26, 2015]

[ . . . foreign intervention could very well be the worst approach now - further regionalizing what is still a local fight--Adam Baron, "What We Get Wrong About Yemen,", March 26, 2015]

REPORT: "Israeli Fighter Jets Join Saudi Arabia in War on Yemen,", March 27, 2015

Robert Fisk, "The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss,", March 27, 2015

[In summary, though the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militia in Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Alawite regime of Assad may not love us, they look on al-Qaida and ISIS as mortal enemies.--Patrick J. Buchanan, "The Enemy of My Enemy,", March 27, 2015]

[The target is Iran and the goal is not only to bring down the regime in Tehran but also to bring down Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, and to reassert control of the entire region in alliance with Israel as well as the U.S.--Mark Bruzonsky, "Israel Joins Saudi and Egypt bombing Yemen and threatening Iran,", March 28, 2015]

"Arab League agrees to create joint military force,", March 29, 2015

Mahdi Mohammadi, "War on Yemen, Washington's Geopolitical Assurance to Saudi Arabia, Israel,", March 30, 2015

[Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt and, of course, the USA and Israel, supported by al-Qaeda, all together against the Yemeni Shia.--The Saker, "In Yemen the 'Axis of kindness' shows the true face of the Empire and proves Lenin right,", April 2, 2015]

Nafeez Ahmed, "The Pentagon plan to 'divide and rule' the Muslim world,", April 3, 2015

VIDEO: "Wars of failure,", April 13, 2015

Ishaan Tharoor, "Top Yemen scholars in the West condemn Saudi Arabia's war,", April 18, 2015

PODCAST: Gregory Johnsen, "The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen," NPR, April 23, 2015 (excellent)

Gareth Porter, "Houthi Arms Bonanza Came From Saleh, Not Iran,", April 24, 2015

Jan Oberg, "Yemen: The mainstream narrative is grossly misleading,", April 24, 2015

Saeed Al-Batati ad Kareem Fahim, "Saudi-Led Air Campaign Resumes in Yemeni Capital,", April 26, 2015

[the Houthis' seizure of so much of Yemen over the past year has little to do with Iran. It has much more to do with their alliance with their old enemy, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh . . .

The Saudi war aim is to break this alliance between the Houthis and the Saleh-controlled military units by destroying the army's bases and heavy weapons.--Patrick Cockburn, "Yemen Crisis: This Exotic War Will Soon Become Europe's Problem,", April 26, 2015]

Robert Fisk, "Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?,", May 4, 2015

[The fact that the news media began labeling Yemen a proxy war in response to the Saudi bombing strongly suggests that the term was a way of softening the harsh reality of Saudi aggression.--Gareth Porter, "The Media Misses the Point on Proxy War',", May 6, 2015]

"Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen: Uglier by the day,", May 9, 2015

Conn Hallinan, "The Yemen War: Redrawing the Faultlines,", May 13, 2015

Dan Glazebrook, "The Geneva Negotiations Failed Because the Aggressors Wanted Them to Fail,", June 29, 2015

Iona Craig, "Yemen's Hidden War: How the Saudi-Led Coalition Is Killing Civilians,", September 1, 2015

"Yemen crisis: President Hadi returns to Aden from exile,", September 22, 2015

["In the Arabian Peninsula, there is a promising oil field in the Empty Quarter [Rub'al-Khali] that will obligate the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen to cooperate to protect it and its gains. This unity will be modeled - or rather, must be modeled - on the U.S. constitution that united America and granted it its democracy."--Martha Munday, "Yemen as Laboratory: Why is the West So Silent About This Savage War?,", September 23, 2015]

[during a six-month period . . . at least 2,355 civilians had been killed--Paul R. Pillar, "The Destructive U.S.-Backed Campaign in Yemen,", October 3, 2015]

Gareth Porter, "The US Could End Saudi War Crimes in Yemen - It Just Doesn't Want To,", October 15, 2015

Iona Craig, "U.S. and Saudi Bombs Target Yemen's Ancient Heritage,", November 16, 2015

[All Muslim nations that have tried to stand up to western domination - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, and most lately Yemen - have been smashed to pieces--Eric Margolis, "What ISIS Really Has in Mind,", December 11, 2015]

[Yemen now effectively has two capitals - Sanaa and Aden--Frank Gardner, "Torn in two: Yemen divided,", December 24, 2015]

Gareth Porter, "How False Stories of Iran Arming the Houthis Were Used to Justify War in Yemen,", December 31, 2015

[one of the Saudi royal family's deepest fears is that one day Saudi Shiites will secede, with their oil, and ally with Shiite Iran.--Jan Schwarz, "One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict,", January 6, 2016]

[Secret cable and Dutch government official confirm that Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen is partly motivated by an ambitious US-backed pipeline fantasy--Nafeez Ahmed, "Saudi war for Yemen oil pipeline is empowering al-Qaeda, IS,", February 10, 2016]

Spencer Ackerman, "Massive US airstrike in Yemen kills 'dozens' of people, Pentagon says,", March 22, 2016

Simon Tisdall, "Saudi Arabia campaign leaves 80% of Yemen population needing aid,", March 25, 2016

"US sends troops to Yemen, steps up anti-Qaeda strikes,", May 7, 2016

[The U.S. opposes Al Qaeda, on one hand, but supports elements that ally with it, on the other.--Daniel Lazare, "The Secret Behind the Yemen War,", May 7, 2016]

Daniel Larison, "Over 500 Days of the Indefensible, U.S.-Backed War on Yemen,", August 9, 2016

THE EDITORIAL BOARD, "Stop Saudi Arms Sales Until Carnage in Yemen Ends,", August 17, 2016

Juan Cole, "Saudis Bomb Yemen's Capital City During the 'Million-Person March',", August 21, 2016

Christina Lin, "US apologizes to Laos over cluster bombs, then sells them to pound Yemen,", September 8, 2016

[Obama has shipped more weapons to Saudi Arabia than any previous US president, taking the kingdom's haul to an eye-popping $115 billion since 2009.--CJ Werleman, "The American-made catastrophe in Yemen,", October 5, 2016]

[due to a virtual blockade by the Saudi-led coalition that has backed the government during an 18-month civil war, over half the country's 28 million people already do not have enough to eat--Daniel Larison, "Yemen Is Being Starved to Death,", October 6, 2016]

Tyler Durden, "US May Be Guilty Of War Crimes For Supporting And Enabling Saudi Mass Killings,", October 10, 2016

Jason Ditz, "Hype Surrounds Iran's Deployment of Aged Ships 'Near' Yemen,", October 13, 2016

[USS Nitze launched missiles at three radar sites in coastal Yemen in retaliation for the attempted attacks on Navy warships--Richard Sisk, "US Can't Say Who Launched Missiles from Yemen at Navy Ships,", October 13, 2016

Adam Johnson, "Hiding US Role in Yemen Slaughter So Bombing Can Be Sold as 'Self-Defense',", October 14, 2016

Chris Sommerfeldt, "SEE IT: Heart-wrenching photos document severe malnutrition in Yemen as bloody civil war rages on,", October 27, 2016

[Julian Assange said: "The war in Yemen has produced 3.15 million internally displaced persons. Although the United States government has provided most of the bombs and is deeply involved in the conduct of the war itself reportage on the war in English is conspicuously rare."--"Yemen Files,", November 25, 2016]

Rebecca Gordon and Tom Engelhardt, "Yet Another Undeclared US War,", December 12, 2016

Iona Craig, "The U.S. Could Stop Refueling Saudis & End Devastating War in Yemen Tomorrow,", December 15, 2016

Dan Glazebrook, "The UK's century-long war against Yemen: Britain has waged war repeatedly to keep country weak and divided and ensure Saudi dominance of peninsula,", January 27, 2017

[it is clear that the Houthis are territorially based local Yemeni insurgents--Jonathan Steele, "Why Trump has Tehran in his crosshairs,", February 4, 2017]

Jason Ditz, "Pentagon Deploying More Special Forces Around Yemen, North Africa,", March 3, 2017

[In FY 2016, the U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees, but Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world took in 117,000 new refugees and migrants in 2016, and hosts more than 255,000 refugees from Somalia. Yemen is now beginning to host the world's worst humanitarian crisis. What's more, the country is regularly targeted by Saudi and US airstrikes.--Kathy Kelly, "Reality and the US-Made Famine in Yemen,", March 22, 2017

Daniel Larison, "Wrecking and Starving Yemen with Washington's Blessing,", April 20, 2017

[At least 7,800 people - mostly civilians - have been killed and 44,000 others injured since March 2015, . . .18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.--"Yemen facing total collapse as war continues, UN warns,", May 31, 2017]

Kristine Beckerle"U.S. Tied to Torture in Network of Secret Yemen Prisons Run by UAE,", June 22, 2017

[The reality is the war in Yemen is a foreign war on Yemen, carried out by the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Britain and several other countries, which have desperately tried to restore an unpopular leader, Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, who won an "election" in 2012 with no other candidates, illegally overstayed his term in office and then officially stepped down before he fled to Saudi Arabia for protection.--Ben Norton, "How Media Spread CIA's Sectarian, Anti-Iran 'Mideast Cold War' Narrative,", July 25, 2017]

Ben Norton, "How Media Obscure US/Saudi Responsibility for Killing Yemeni Civilians,", August 31, 2017

Gareth Porter, "When Did Congress Vote to Aid the Saudi's Yemen War?,", October 2, 2017

Patrick J. Buchanan, "The US-Saudi Starvation Blockade,", November 24, 2017

"US Acknowledges Ground Ops, Over 120 Airstrikes in Yemen This Year,", December 20, 2017

"Washington Post Calls For Outrage About War On Yemen - Hides U.S. Role In It,", December 22, 2017

[the Burkhan 2-H is a Soviet SCUD-B that has been significantly modified--Scott Ritter, "Propaganda Aiming to Prove Iran Supplied Missiles Backfires,", December 26, 2017]

Tom Cooper, "A New State Is Emerging in Yemen,", February 2, 2018

[Russia has signaled that the US and its Western allies can no longer dominate the international system and Russia will oppose US hegemony as a matter of principle.--M K Bhadrakumar, "A What the Russian veto on Yemeni war signifies,", February 2, 2018

Dan Glazebrook, "The $1.5 Billion Campaign to Whitewash Genocide in Yemen,", March 5, 2018

Editorial Board, "8 million teeter on the brink of famine. America is complicit,", June 13, 2018

"The Saudi-U.S.-Al-Qaeda Alliance Is Now Official 'News',", August 6, 2018

Max Fisher, "How One Journalist's Death Provoked a Backlash That Thousands Dead in Yemen Did Not,", October 17, 2018

F. William Engdahl, "Yemen Genocide About Oil Control,", November 20, 2018

Andrew J Bacevich, "The Constitutional Travesty of Our War in Yemen,", April 22, 2019

Barbara Boland, "Arms Dealers and Lobbyists Get Rich as Yemen Burns,", June 25, 2019

"Saudi Arabia wants to establish oil port in eastern Yemen -- report,", July 25, 2019

[Ansarullah is more than just a mere Iranian franchise outfit. Unlike Hezbollah, Ansarullah - as a homegrown movement - would continue to fight, albeit less effectively, even if its link to Tehran were severed.--Giorgio Cafiero and Andreas Krieg, "The Houthi-Hezbollah Surrogate Nexus,", August 26, 2019]

[A country that has virtually one major wealth-producing base (ie oil) and just a few desalination plants that pump fresh water into its major cities, is a very soft target indeed.--Ghassan Kadi, "Iran vs Saudi Arabia: it's game-over,", September 19, 2019]

U.S. Blockade of Yemen Is Killing Thousands, The Young Turks, April 10, 2021

Yemen's dirty war, DW Documentary, June 11, 2022

Joziah Thayer, "How the World Bank and IMF Destroyed Yemen,", February 20, 2023

How Qatar Became the World's Most OP Country, RealLifeLore, November 30, 2022 [at 24:30]

[The ongoing conflict has caused direct and indirect losses of over $45 billion to Yemen's oil sector.--Karim Shami, "Who is looting Yemen's oil, and where does it all go?,", June 3, 2023]

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