by Dr. Reuven Berko
The Iranians, currently at a disadvantage facing a Sunni Arab coalition supported by the West, have the Tehran-Beirut conduit and are using "peripheral" conflicts that are "minor and limited in scope" as an opening gambit against the Arabian Peninsula while they wait for a nuclear bomb of their own. When that is constructed, they will push forward, unhindered.
On April 21, Saudi Arabia changed the name of its operation against the Houthis in Yemen from "Decisive Storm" to "Restoring Hope."
But in reality we're talking about "False Hope." Saudi Arabia claimed it stopped the operation because of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Yemen, and said the action was halted at the request of the president of Yemen in light of the success in eliminating the Houthis' stocks of heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles. In practice, the Houthis and the "popular resistance" are fighting fierce battles, no one is winning, and the maritime siege and coalition air and sea strikes continue.
Saudi Arabia is treating the results of its operation as a "victory," and other than clashes with Houthi infiltrators on its border is refraining from a land incursion. Military analyst Gen. Fayez al-Dwairi said the "popular resistance" is in urgent need of anti-tank weapons to defeat the Houthis, who are far from beaten and are still holed up in key areas of Yemen and the entrance to Aden.
The lack of a victory is seen in the fact that President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and most of his people are actually in Riyadh. Very few of them are under constant attack by the Houthis in Aden. Al-Dwairi argues that in contrast to the pessimistic predictions about the four capitals that "fell" into Iran's hands, Sanaa has not been conquered. He says that some 85 percent of the Houthis' military capability has been destroyed, and that the "popular resistance" is in control of about 50 percent of Yemen.
In light of the "victory," analysts are split about the reasons why the operation was stopped. Some argue that there are no Houthi targets left to attack. Others believe that the reluctance of Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt (which is dealing with its own troubles at home) to take part in a ground operation limits the coalition's operational capabilities. Still others think that the Saudis fear a direct war of attrition with Iran.
Remember, when nine Iranian ships loaded with missiles reached the shores of Yemen, the Americans sent in the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the Iranian support ships turned tail and headed home. Reports out of Yemen say that two American cruise missiles were recently fired at unidentified targets in Sanaa.
It looks like even the Americans have realized that the Houthi activity in Yemen is a critical part of Iran's move to take over the Middle East. In mid-April, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Tehran that the Americans had both military options and the massive ordinance penetrator technology to use to destroy the Iranian nuclear program. This weekend, the White House reiterated that it would continue providing logistic support for Saudi Arabia's campaign against the Houthis. Secretary of State John Kerry even warned Iran against bogging Lebanon down in another war. Congress also bolstered oversight mechanisms in light of the impotent agreement President Barack Obama has put together with Iran.
Russia, an anti-American player that identifies with Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iranians, confirmed in early April that it was selling Iran the S-300 aerial defense system to use in the event of a Western attack. The Iranians, currently at a disadvantage facing a Sunni Arab coalition supported by the West, have the Tehran-Beirut conduit and are using "peripheral" conflicts that are "minor and limited in scope" as an opening gambit against the Arabian Peninsula while they wait for a nuclear bomb of their own. When that is constructed, they will push forward, unhindered.
It also looks as if the Turks, who have their own imperialist dreams, understand that the reach of a "nuclearizing" Iran from Tehran to Beirut curtails their ability to invade or assist the Sunni Arab nations. Despite their hatred for Assad, their fear of the Iranians and the Russians keep them from ousting him. Although he visited Tehran this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Iran's attempts to take over the region were unacceptable and that its terrorist organizations must leave Yemen. Just to be on the safe side, Turkey is building three nuclear reactors to "produce electricity."
Over the weekend, Saudi King Salman and the Saudi defense minister met in Riyadh with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan -- a nuclear state -- and a delegation that included Pakistan's military chief and its defense and intelligence leadership. Sharif openly committed to provide sea and air support to Saudi Arabia if it should be attacked by Iran. The Middle East nuclear reactor is heating up, and Obama is busy with his deals.
Dr. Reuven Berko
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