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A Dangerous Escalation of the U.S. Role in the War on Yemen

U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen keeps [1] getting worse:

The war-torn Arabian nation of Yemen has emerged as a surprise complication for U.S.-Iranian relations in the late stages of President Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Tehran.

The Obama administration dispatched an aircraft carrier to Yemen’s coastal waters over the weekend, an escalation of American involvement in that country’s civil war that also serves as a show of strength against Iran just as negotiators resume the nuclear talks this week in Vienna.

If Yemen has become a “surprise complication” for the administration’s diplomacy with Iran, Obama has no one to blame but himself. In a misguided bid to “reassure” the Saudis and its GCC allies, the U.S. first backed a reckless attack on Yemen that has succeeded mainly in further wrecking the country. Now it is moving more U.S. ships into the area in an even more dangerous bid to confront an approaching Iranian flotilla. This not only represents a serious escalation of U.S. involvement in the war and a closer identification of the U.S. with the Saudi-led blockade, but also risks an unnecessary and entirely avoidable clash with Iran. This would be foolish at any time, but it is even more so when the nuclear talks are still ongoing. The “show of strength” will be taken as a challenge, and will likely lead to more confrontational behavior from Tehran.

The Wall Street Journal reports [2]:

American officials aren’t certain of the Iranian flotilla’s intentions. If the Iranian ships try to head for Yemen, it could create a dramatic showdown this week in the Gulf of Aden. U.S. officials don’t expect American sailors to try to board the Iranian ships.

Saudi Arabian and Egyptian ships have been at the forefront of an effort to prevent any potential efforts by Iran to secret arms into Yemen by sea and their forces could try to intercept the Iranian flotilla.

“It all depends on what the Iranian ships do,” said one U.S. military official. “If they try to head for Yemen, there may be a bit of a showdown.”

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If that were to happen, it would almost certainly poison the talks on the nuclear issue. Depending on how much of a “showdown” there is, in the worst-case scenario it could trigger a new conflict. Even if the worst doesn’t happen, it will raise tensions and make any final agreement on the nuclear issue harder to reach. U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen has never seemed more unwise or more contrary to U.S. interests than it does now.

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9 Comments To "A Dangerous Escalation of the U.S. Role in the War on Yemen"

#1 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On April 20, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

If they do this, our leaders will prove themselves absolutely insane.

“For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!”

#2 Comment By what’s yer beef On April 20, 2015 @ 9:50 pm

No cause for panic over this one. Not yet, anyway. It could be a useful exercise in coping with each other, the beginnings of a modus vivendi in a fraught situation – and in screening out the hysterics and fanatics on both side screaming for war or prophesying doom.

Best to keep an eye on “allies” like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, wholly untrustworthy and fully capable of a false flag op or other ruse to provoke us into yet another ill-considered escalation.

#3 Comment By Quiddity On April 21, 2015 @ 12:11 am

Somebody better lower the temperature in Yemen toot sweet. This is looking like a really messy situation. Kudos to Larison for being way ahead on this.

#4 Comment By a spencer On April 21, 2015 @ 12:16 am

if we’re quoting things,

GRANDPA. Last time we used battleships was in the Spanish-American War, and what did we get out of it? Cuba – and we gave that back. I wouldn’t mind paying if it were something sensible.

~ You Can’t Take It With You, Kaufman/Hart, 1936

#5 Comment By Kian On April 21, 2015 @ 2:03 am

Succinct and to the point. I grew up in a leftist family and in many respects hold leftist views. Ironically I have found this site to offer a lot of sound advice and great analysis. I suppose as age brings wisdom, my causes shift in the direction of pragmatic and seek alliances with reasonable conservative voices.

#6 Comment By Chris Mallory On April 21, 2015 @ 8:18 am

The fever swamps known as the comment sections of various “conservative” news sites are filled with people who support this wholeheartedly. They think this is some great blow against terrorism. When you point out to them, that this is helping AQAP, they go into fits.

#7 Comment By sean On April 21, 2015 @ 9:42 am

“Saudi Arabian and Egyptian ships have been at the forefront of an effort to prevent any potential efforts by Iran to secret arms into Yemen by sea and their forces could try to intercept the Iranian flotilla.”

So why the need for U.S. ships?

We can either try to prevent a regional/religious war or forment it but we can’t do both. Larison’s right, if this escalates, good-bye nuclear deal. I hope Obama is aware of this.

#8 Comment By Myron Hudson On April 21, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

Whats yer beef brings up an interesting point about monitoring the activitie of our “allies” and I wish/hope it were true.

However, for somebody with a drinking problem, one drink is too many, and a thousand drinks is not enough. Our government has a war problem.

#9 Comment By Lani Tanner On April 21, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

Thinking thw whole war on Yemen is fake. Someone is serioulsy trying to blow the Iran deal. Just my opinion. The Ayatollah seemed more interested in blaming republicans for lying about Iran having Nukes than focusing on this.