Tony Greenstein | 16 April 2015 | Post Views:

Armed and equipped by the United States and supported by Israel, Saudi Arabia has launched a war against the Houthi rebels in the Yemen.  Contrary to mischievous reports it isn’t a religious battle but a civil war.  The Houthis, who are not Shi’ites and who would face persecution as apostates in Iran, have ousted the previous imperialist imposed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi Abedrabbo.  One beneficiary will be Al Quada in Yemen, who the United States has subject to a drone war, but the primary aim of the US-Saudi-Gulf Cooperation Council war is to prevent any popular administration coming to power and preserve the power of the region’s autocracies.

Houthi militia at Sana International Airport

However as the article below explains, the Saudis are by no means in a strong position and the Houthis, if they wish to, could cut off the flow of oil and deal a crippling blow to the world’s oil supplies.  The pretext for Saudi Arabia’s aggression is Iran although there is no evidence that Iran has done anything other than offer verbal support to the Houthis.

Tony Greenstein

Saudis Face Defeat in Yemen and Instability at Home

By Mike Whitney

“The interventions of US imperialism,
with the direct collaboration of the Saudi monarchy, have plunged the entire Middle
East into chaos and bloodshed—from the destruction of Iraq, to the
transformation of Libya into a militia-ravaged “failed state,” to the ongoing
carnage inflicted upon Syria … This predatory imperialist offensive threatens
to ignite a region-wide conflagration, even as Washington deliberately ratchets
up military tensions with both Russia and China. The threat of these separate
conflicts coalescing into a third world war grows by the day.”
Bill Van Auken, Obama’s criminal war against Yemen, World
Socialist web Site
Angry crowds and militia point their weapons to the sky and in the direction of the Saudi bombers
“Will the reactionary rulers of Saudi
Arabia manage to break the legitimate hopes and enthusiastic dreams burning in
the hearts of thousands of young people of the Arabian Peninsula? Never!”

Gamal Abd al-Nasser, President of Egypt 1956 to 1970
April 14, 2015 “ICH
–  In its ongoing effort to prevent the rise of “any popularly supported
government in the region”, the US has joined Saudi Arabia’s savage war of
annihilation against Yemen’s northern tribal rebels, the Houthis. The Pentagon
has expedited the delivery of bombs, ammunition and guidance systems to assist
the Saudi-led campaign and is providing logistical support to maximize the
impact of its bombing raids. The US has also set up a “joint fusion center”,
provided “aerial re-fueling platforms” and “advanced US-made weaponry” with the
explicit intention of suppressing a militant group that overthrew the US-backed
puppet government in the capital of Sanaa in the fall of 2014. The level of
coordination between the makeshift Arab coalition (The Gulf Cooperation Council
or GCC) and the US suggests that Washington is not only fully aware that food depots,
water facilities, refugee camps and critical civilian infrastructure are being
deliberately targeted and destroyed, but that the White House has given the
green light to actions that will inevitably lead to widespread famine and
social collapse. Here’s a little background from an article in The National:
Saudi artillery firing at Houthi positions in Yemen
“Yemen Economic Corporation, one of
Yemen’s largest food storage centres, was destroyed by three coalition missile
strikes in Hodeidah last Tuesday, according to the Houthi-controlled defence
ministry. The corporation had enough food for the entire country. The
government’s military food storage centre in Hodeidah was also targeted and
destroyed on Tuesday, according to the defence ministry.
Also in Hodeidah, country’s second
largest dairy plant was hit by five Saudi missiles on Wednesday, killing at
least 29 people, mostly employees, and injuring dozens of others.” (Yemeni civilians struggle to get by
amid conflict
, The National)
Houthi militiaman at Sana international airport
This is from Channel News Asia:
DUBAI: Warships from the Saudi-led
coalition have blocked a vessel carrying more than 47,000 tonnes of wheat from
entering a Yemeni port, demanding United Nations guarantees that the cargo
would not go to military personnel, shipping sources said on Thursday.” (Saudi-led coalition bars wheat ship
from entering Yemen port – sources,
Channel News Asia)
People looking for survivors after Saudi bombing raid
This is from WSWS:
“Airstrikes as well as fighting on
the ground has knocked out electrical infrastructure, cutting off power in many
urban areas and stopping the operation of crucial pumps that supply Yemen’s
cities with drinking water. “We’re worried that this system will break down
shortly; Aden is a dry, hot place, and without water people will really
suffer,” UNICEF representative Harneis told reporters…
The no-fly zone and blockade enforced
by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners has effectively blocked the delivery
of medical aid and supplies for the last two weeks, exacerbating the developing
crisis.” World Socialist Web Site
Live reports on the ground confirm
that food depots have been bombed across the country; ” in Asr (west) hit as
well as Urdhi complex (center) & Noqum (east).
This is how America fights its wars,
by precipitating massive humanitarian crises that help it to achieve its
political objectives. If that isn’t terrorism, then what is?
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
“As tons of desperately needed
medical supplies await clearance to be flown into Yemen, aid workers warned
Tuesday of an unfolding humanitarian crisis, saying at least 560 people,
including dozens of children, have been killed, mostly in a Saudi-led air
campaign and battles between Shiite rebels and forces loyal to the embattled
president. More than 1,700 people have been wounded and another 100,000 have
fled their homes as fighting intensified over the past three weeks, the World
Health Organization said.” (560 dead amid fears of humanitarian
collapse in Yemen
, Washington Post)
The Saudis launched this latest
aggression invoking the thinnest of pretexts, that it wanted to “restore the
legitimate government” and protect the “Yemeni constitution and elections.” As
CNN’s Ali Alahmed sardonically quipped:
“The need to protect constitutions
and elections is a rather strange message from the representative of an
absolute monarchy … The kingdom’s real motives seem clear if one looks at Saudi
monarchy’s history of not allowing regional competition of any kind, while
consistently combating efforts to build democratic governments that empower the
The Saudi goal is simple: Prevent the
rise of any popularly supported government in the region that seeks
self-determination. And the excuse of “resisting Iran’s influence,” meanwhile,
appears to be nothing but sectarian bluster.” (What Saudi Arabia wants in Yemen,
While we agree with Alahmed’s basic
thesis, we think the rule applies more to the United States than Saudi Arabia.
After all, it’s the US that has gone from one country to the next, toppling
governments, installing puppets, and spreading anarchy wherever it goes.
Whatever role the Saudis might have played in Washington’s grand plan to redraw
the map of the Middle East and project US tentacles into Eurasia, it is quite
small by comparison. It’s the US that refuses to allow an independent
government to emerge in a region that it’s committed to control. And it’s the
US that is facilitating the attacks on innocent Yemenis by providing the bombs,
weaponry and logistical support to the reactionary Saudi leadership. Check this
out from Gregory Johnson at Buzzfeed:
“A consensus appears to be building
in Riyadh, Cairo, and Islamabad toward inserting ground troops into the
conflict in Yemen. One Egyptian military official told BuzzFeed News the
decision had already been made. “Ground forces will enter the war,” the
official said on condition of anonymity in order to discuss classified military
The timing of such a move, which
would be a significant escalation in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, is
still being discussed. But the Egyptian military source said it could happen as
soon as “two or three days.” (Ground Forces Seen Joining Bloody War
In Yemen
, Buzzfeed)
So after two weeks of nonstop
bombing, the coalition is now planning to intensify the conflict by putting
boots on the ground. But that will only prolong the hostilities and plunge the
country deeper into crisis. It will also increase the risk of Houthi
retaliation, which appears to already be taking place. According to Al Arabiya
English, fighting broke out in the Southern Saudi city of Narjan on April 11.
(#BREAKING Asiri: Houthi militias are amassing close to the Saudi-Yemeni
border…  #BREAKING: Asiri: clashes reported near the Saudi city of Najran)
While no one expects the Houthis to
invade their northern neighbor, there are some analysts who think the monarchy
has taken on more than it can chew and will eventually suffer blowback from its
incursion. One such critic is Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the
Lebanese paramilitary organization Hezbollah. In a recent interview, Nasrallah
suggested that the Houthis have the means to curtail vital energy supplies,
strike a blow against Saudi Arabia, and send financial markets tumbling at the
same time. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“There is now a demand on the Yemeni
leaders… who have not taken the decision to close (the strategic Strait) of Bab
al-Mandeb, which they could do at any time. (It is only 20 kilometres-large,
they are quite capable of it.) And they could also hit targets inside Saudi
Arabia with missiles, or even enter the interior of Saudi Arabia, although they
have not yet made this decision, so far … There is currently a Yemeni popular
demand: “Let us go to Saudi Arabia.” Leadership thus far has not taken such a
decision. I wanted to indicate this.”…
Nasrallah again: “I am absolutely
certain that Saudi Arabia will undergo a major defeat. And its defeat will
impact its internal situation, the royal family … and the entire region.”
(“Hassan Nasrallah: The war in Yemen announces the end of the House of Saud”,
The Vineyard of the Saker)
So the Houthis could close the Bab Al
Mandeb straits and prevent millions of barrels of oil from getting to market?
That changes the calculus entirely. How would that effect Washington’s plan to
crash Russia’s economy with plunging oil prices? How would it impact global
stock markets which are already jittery over the Fed’s projected rate hikes?
What effect would it have on al Nusra, ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked groups
that would then seek to launch similar attacks against critical energy
infrastructure as the best way to achieve their aims?
There are things the Houthis can do
to discourage Saudi aggression. They can take matters into their own hands and
strike where it hurts most. Washington is so convinced of its own
invincibility, that no one has even thought of this. Without the slightest
hesitation, the Obama troupe has embroiled a key ally in bloody conflagration
that could backfire and seriously undermine US interests in the region. Saudi
Arabia is the cornerstone of US power in the Middle East, but it is also its
Achilles heel. By supporting the attack on the Houthis instead of seeking a
political solution, Washington has strengthened Al Qaeda on the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP) which poses the greatest single threat to the monarchy. As
Nasrallah notes: “they (the US and SA) protect Al Qaeda and Daesh in Yemen, and
more, they drop them weapons by air. This is an achievement? This goes against
the interests of Saudi Arabia.”
Indeed, it does. Al Qaeda has much
greater ability to infiltrate Saudi Arabia and either launch terrorist attacks
or foment popular revolution. The Houthis present no such security threat,
they’re only interest is to maintain their own sovereignty, borders, and
independent foreign policy. A 2003 article in the Atlantic by CIA Bureau Chief
Robert Baer titled “The Fall of the House of Saud” provides a window into
Riyadh’s vulnerabilities and draws the ominous conclusion that the kingdom’s
days are numbered. Here’s a clip from the article:
“Saudi oil is controlled by an
increasingly bankrupt, criminal, dysfunctional, and out-of-touch royal family
that is hated by the people it rules and by the nations that surround its
Signs of impending disaster are
everywhere, but the House of Saud has chosen to pray that the moment of
reckoning will not come soon—and the United States has chosen to look away. So
nothing changes: the royal family continues to exhaust the Saudi treasury,
buying more and more arms and funneling more and more “charity” money to the
jihadists, all in a desperate and self-destructive effort to protect itself.
The most vulnerable point and the
most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system is the Abqaiq complex—the
world’s largest oil-processing facility, which sits about twenty-four miles
inland from the northern end of the Gulf of Bahrain. All petroleum originating
in the south is pumped to Abqaiq for processing. For the first two months after
a moderate to severe attack on Abqaiq, production there would slow from an
average of 6.8 million barrels a day to one million barrels, a loss equivalent
to one third of America’s daily consumption of crude oil. For seven months
following the attack, daily production would remain as much as four million
barrels below normal—a reduction roughly equal to what all of the opec partners
were able to effect during their 1973 embargo…
I served for twenty-one years with
the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, and during all my years
there I accepted on faith my government’s easy assumption that the money the
House of Saud was dumping into weaponry and national security meant that the
family’s armed forces and bodyguards could keep its members—and their oil—safe
… I no longer believe this … sometime soon, one way or another, the House of
Saud is coming down.” (The Fall of the House of Saud,
Robert Baer, The Atlantic)
Neither the United States nor Saudi
Arabia have any right to interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs or to install
their own political puppets to head the government. That is the right of the
Yemeni people. And while the current process of regime change might be messy
and violent, the Houthi rebels better represent the interests of the indigenous
population than anyone in Riyadh or Washington. The Saudi-US war is merely
aimed at controlling the outcome so Yemen remains within the imperial grip. As
Nasrallah says, “The real goal of the war is to retain control and domination
of Yemen (but) the Yemeni people will not put up with this aggression and
humiliation. They will fight to defend their dignity, their existence, their
families, and their territory. And they will be victorious.”

Mike Whitney lives in Washington
state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK
Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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