Will Trump Expand War against Yemenis Into War against Iran?
On Feb. 3 Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn made a statement explaining the government sanctions against certain Iranians. The statement included this sentence, "Just this week, Iran tested a ballistic missile, and one of its proxy terrorist groups attacked a Saudi vessel in the Red Sea." Evidently Yemenis who the Saudis called "the Houthis" did try to attack the ship, but overall the statement is a lie. Saudi Arabia has been in an unprovoked war with Yemen for nearly two years. The "Houthis" (really an alliance of the Houthi political movement and Ali Abduallh Saleh who ran Yemen for twenty years) were at war with other Yemenis in 2015 when the Saudis got involved in what they thought would be a short and easy victory. The bloodletting has gone on to kill at least 10,000 directly and a similar number of children because of lack of medical care and clean water.
The idea that the Houthis are "terrorist" "proxy" of Iran is bogus. Their version of Islam is not the same as Iran. There appears to have been some shiploads of weapons Iran has sent them, but that happened after the Saudi attack. Most of their weapons they have are American weapons, leftovers from the flood of weapons that the Pentagon gave Saleh over the decades or abandoned when U.S. advisors fled Yemen in 2015. While offering no support at all to the Houthis or any faction in Yemen it needs to be said that the "terrorist" charge is meaningless, just an excuse to kill them as is the claim that they are proxy. There are 24 million Yemenis. The Houthi-Saleh alliance is a native force.
Those who foolishly thought Trump wanted to just "do business" and avoid war are being naive. He's doubling down Obama's complete support for the Saudi war against Yemenis with a threat to use it as an excuse to go after Iran. No doubt this pleases Netanyahu of Israel who has long wanted war against Iran.The foolishness of Flynn(Trump's) attitude was recognized by CT Senator Chris Murphy in an article in the Huffington Post
Depressingly the New York Times editorial board approved on Flynn's analysis writing "Mr. Flynn was right, however, in highlighting Iran’s troubling behavior, including the recent attack on a Saudi Navy patrol boat by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen." The NYT has been very critical of Saudi Arabia in recent years, and supports the Obama deal with Iran, but its ruling class criticism will only go so far. Over 7,000 people signed a petition to the New York Times that says "Don't promote U.S. military confrontation with Iran by characterizing Houthi rebels in Yemen as proxies for Iran."
The National Iranian American Council made a statement that included this, "“Iran’s influence over the Houthi rebels has also been grossly overstated, as repeatedly confirmed by U.S. intelligence officials. To pin on Iran the recent attack by Houthi rebels against a Saudi vessel only signals a desire for escalation.
“The United States should not go to war with Iran to defend Saudi Arabia’s reckless war in Yemen, which has undermined U.S. interests, created a humanitarian crisis, and boosted Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”