As Kelley Vlahos mentioned in her article this morning, John McCain and other Iran hawks have tried to make hay out of the fact that the Saudis organized their attack on Yemen without consulting the U.S. They say this is proof that the Saudis have lost confidence in U.S. support. Military officers dismiss this criticism:
A senior commander at Central Command (CENTCOM), speaking on condition of anonymity, scoffed at that argument. “The reason the Saudis didn’t inform us of their plans,” he said, “is because they knew we would have told them exactly what we think — that it was a bad idea [bold mine-DL].”
Military sources said that a number of regional special forces officers and officers at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) argued strenuously against supporting the Saudi-led intervention because the target of the intervention, the Shia Houthi movement — which has taken over much of Yemen and which Riyadh accuses of being a proxy for Tehran — has been an effective counter to Al-Qaeda [bold mine-DL].
So the U.S. is aiding a military intervention that many of our own officers consider ill-advised, and it is doing so despite the fact that the apparent goal of the intervention is contrary to our own interests in Yemen, such as they are. Unsurprisingly, the hawks that have pushed the U.S. into every disastrous intervention in the last fifteen years haven’t thought through the consequences of this war, either, and are cheering on the Saudi campaign that threatens to make Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula stronger than it was before. The U.S. is backing a reckless war led by an ugly authoritarian client in an effort to counter an “expansion” of Iranian influence that isn’t happening, and in the process in the process the war is boosting the one group in the country that actually poses a threat to the U.S. and its allies.
The article goes on to quote a Yemen expert, Michael Horton, regarding the claim that the Houthis are Iran’s proxies:
Later, in a telephone interview, Horton expanded on that. “These constant reports that the Houthis are working for the Iranians are nonsense, but the view is right out of the neocon playbook,” he said. “The Israelis have been touting this line that we lost Yemen to Iran. That’s absurd. The Houthis don’t need Iranian weapons. They have plenty of their own [bold mine-DL]. And they don’t require military training. They’ve been fighting Al-Qaeda since at least 2012, and they’ve been winning. Why are we fighting a movement that’s fighting Al-Qaeda?”
Over the last decade, the U.S. has toppled two governments to the later benefit of jihadist groups, and it considered doing the same in Syria. In each case, the U.S. has contributed to the destabilization of the region, and jihadists have made gains as a result. In Yemen, the U.S. is aiding in an attack on a group that is also opposed to the local Al Qaeda affiliate. None of these wars has made the U.S. or the region more secure. On the contrary, they have created more violence and upheaval in the region and strengthened the groups that are most hostile to us.