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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/24/19

Houthi Rebels are the Saudis' Problem

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From Consortium News

Iran has been in the headlines since Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a Saudi Aramco refinery in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province over a week ago.

This is not the first time the Houthis have used long-range missiles or drones to attack Saudi installations. Indeed, it's at least the 20th attack on a Saudi oil facility, airport or military outpost since Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen two years ago and began attacking both military and civilian sites there. But the Trump administration has blamed the attack on Iran, not on the Houthis, who publicly claimed responsibility.

The conventional wisdom is that Yemen is a proxy war between the United States and Iran, with the Iranians supporting and supplying the Houthis while the alliance of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain supports the Yemeni government and hits Houthi sites in Yemen. That's not exactly accurate. Certainly, the Iranians are on the side of the Houthis, but there is little to pin command and control on them. All available evidence points to the Houthis conducting their own military operations and not relying on Iran. The Yemeni government, however, is completely dependent on Saudi Arabia, which in turn is dependent on the United States for military equipment, planning, refueling and intelligence.

That aside, President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for the attack even before the flames in the Eastern Province were brought under control. He cited no intelligence, no proof, no intercepts, no declassified photography of an Iranian launch site. Nothing. We are just supposed to take his word for it. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in his first press conference since May, meanwhile, said, "We are not seeking a conflict with Iran. We want to engage with Iran." That's decidedly different from the "locked and loaded" theme of both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

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John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA and two years in a federal prison for blowing the whistle on the agency's use of torture. He served on John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years as senior investigator into the Middle (more...)

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