The only thing worse than the general Western neglect of the war on Yemen is the use of pro-Saudi talking points to describe it. Irina Tsukerman does just this when she misleadingly writes about “Iran’s war in Yemen”:
It was the Houthis, not the Saudis, who first imposed a humanitarian blockade against Yemen. They then used humanitarian-aid shipments to their own population as a disguise for smuggled weapons, which ultimately led to many deaths from starvation. The Saudis were forced to impose their own naval blockade as a defensive measure to counter ballistic-missile strikes and increased attacks on coalition [forces] on the ground—yet the Houthis have succeeded in painting the kingdom as the villain.
This passage is full of false and misleading statements. The Houthis are responsible for impeding aid deliveries in territory they control, but they have neither the means nor the inclination to blockade their own country. The accusation is self-refuting and an obvious lie. The sea and air blockade of the country was imposed by the coalition at the outset of the Saudi-led intervention. The blockade is the principal cause of the country’s humanitarian crisis, and the responsibility for it rests entirely with the Saudi-led coalition and its Western backers.
The coalition was not “forced” to do this, but chose to do it from the beginning of their war. The coalition blockade predates any missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and was not imposed because of them, so that is another lie. It’s true that the tightening of the blockade last fall came in response to Houthi missile attacks that were themselves retaliation for the relentless bombing of Yemeni cities, but the blockade had already been in place for more than two and half years at that point. The coalition could hardly have tightened the blockade that didn’t already exist.
The coalition imposed the blockade in 2015 ostensibly to prevent weapons smuggling, but in practice it has delayed and diverted many ships bringing in food and medicine even after they had been found to have no weapons on board. Blocking commercial goods and humanitarian aid hasn’t prevented weapons smuggling into Yemen, but it has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than eight million Yemenis are on the brink of famine because of the Saudi coalition’s cruel collective punishment that has nothing to do with their own defense.
It is exceptionally dishonest to label the conflict “Iran’s war” when Iranian involvement has been and remains negligible for the last three years. Tsukerman asserts that “Tehran is building a naval base in Yemen,” but that is also false. When an Iranian officer suggested the idea of such a base back in 2016, the Houthis publicly rejected it in the strongest terms:
A leader of Yemen’s Houthis and a member of the group’s delegation to the talks in Kuwait, Mehdi Mashat, on Sunday has slammed the Iranian Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri over remarks published Sunday about Iran’s desire to establish naval bases in Yemen and Syria.
“This creature should read the history of Yemen before he talks, because I am sure that if he knew that Yemen throughout history has been a cemetery for invaders, he would not have said a word”, Mashat said in a post on his official Facebook page.
So much for the notion that Iran controls Yemen.
It is the Saudis, Emiratis, and other coalition governments that intervened directly over three years ago, and it is their forces and proxies that occupy portions of Yemen to this day. Their planes are the ones that bomb Yemeni cities on daily basis with U.S. assistance, and it is their navies that strangle the country with their blockade. This is not Iranian “disinformation,” but a description of what has been happening to Yemen for over three years. These are well-documented facts attested by countless reports from news agencies, humanitarian organizations, human rights groups, and the U.N. Making excuses for Saudi coalition crimes and shouting “Iran!” as a diversion can’t change any of that.