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Yemen: America's Undeclared War

Updated on November 2, 2014

Yemen is a confusing mess and another undeclared war America fights mostly with remote drone attacks and millions of dollars in military and economic aid to a government thought to be stable, at least in Arab terms. That government has collapsed recently when the Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, seized much of the capital of Sanaa. They demanded and got the government and its president (that was US backed) to resign to avoid bloodshed, that actually happened anyway. Much of the discontent of the Houthis is religious based as all other wars in the Middle East-the Shiite versus Sunni thing. Yemen was mostly controlled by the Sunnis and of course, the Shiites did not like that. The Saudis are mostly Sunni, Iran is mostly Shiite. So, it is all about promoting a religious sect.

After the Houthi rebellion over the economy and lack of representation in government succeeded, they now control 14 of Yemen's 21 provinces. Iran has scored in Yemen, but can it last. Al-Qaeda is an arch enemy there and they continue to make local terror attacks and get stronger. The new government is bankrupt and still not formed to the satisfaction of all. When the Houthis were formed in 1994, they were very anti-American and closely tied to Iran's Revolutionary Guards that supplied them with military arms. Some of them have gone to Syria to battle Assad.

For Iran, behind the scenes of news topics, is fully supporting and advising the Houthis. The Houthis are much like Hezbollah to Iran, they are proxy groups that will fight for the Shiite Iranian cause. The US is in murky water here. It can got off all aid and support but then will lose key drone bases to conduct their war on al-Qaeda. They could suddenly find US personnel and drones in jeopardy as Iran directs the Houthis. The aid cannot be given if the government is hostile and if Iran fills the void, Yemen will become another Lebanon on a larger scale. Another benefit that Iran could receive is that much of the world's oil moves through the Bad-el-Mandeb strait that divides Yemen from Africa and through the Hormuz Straits. Iran's influence over these key routes would become an issue.

All of this make Saudi Arabia nervous. They did bomb the Houthis in 2009 to prevent them from gaining power and now that they are in control, Saudi Arabia might just decide to attack them again in Yemen dragging the US along with them. In case you have not noticed, much of the US military in the Middle East has supported Sunni regimes probably because of the oil.


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