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02 April 2015


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Babak Makkinejad

Patrick Bahzad:

The strategic implication, in my opinion, is that a rented nuclear-armed state within whose territories Shia are murdered everyday, which is supporting enemies of the Shia in Afghanistan, is now fighting the "Shia" in Yemen directly and possibly tomorrow in Iran.


Pakistani-American Tarek Fateh on how Saudi Arabia has fooled the West, again.

Quote: The lie that has been floated and gobbled up by western analysts and politicians is that the Yemeni Houthis are a product of Iranian intervention in Yemen and thus pose a threat to western interests as well as the security of Israel.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

End quote.

Abu Sinan

Nice piece. I like what Nasrallah termed the operation in a speech recently, "Decisive Breeze".


who is that "rented nuclear-armed state"?

I may well have my synapses twisted up. I could try to figure out from the rest of course, but it would be guesswork.


This war has been prepared for by both sides for several months, from before the Houthi take over of Sanaa in September. The Saleh/Houthi forces were initially shocked by the Saudi response but in fact the aerial campaign has damaged very little, either in Sanaa or on the battlefronts of Aden or Shabwa.

The Saudis will have planned for a second stage to accompany the bombardment. They are, for all their shortcomings, not so naive to believe that bombing from the air will achieve anything beyond angering a large portion of dangerous Northern Yemenis.

They will not commit ground troops to directly fight the Houthis. They will take strategic areas in the northern border areas with which to supply and support their tribal proxies.

The article gets it right when it says that reduction to sectarian issues is incorrect. This is about a dangerous neighbour becoming more dangerous through Iranian encouragement. Through empowering the tribes to fight the Saudis will retain a far larger (potential) proxy force. If they were to choose only Sunni tribes then they would achieve little. Better to have the Houthi's close enemies, also Zaydi, do the fighting.


After reading this Patrick, I wondered why SA does not reconsider it's relations to Iran at least for the time being, ideally with long term perspective.

On the other hand Babak's (Makkinejad thesis) thesis and the idea, at least my temptative interpretation so far, of some type of more reliable (Western?) relations to people once living within the Seljuk empire doesn't seem a big help at the moment.


Patrick Bahzad

Babak meant Pakistan ... Hope he won't mind me replying for him :-)

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"...dangerous through Iranian encouragement..."

So you do have a dog in this fight?

Last I looked, ISIS was being supported by Turkey - a NATO member - and Saudi Arabia.

I suppose the invasion of Bahrain also was to counter these "..."...dangerous through Iranian encouragement..."?

I agree that this was long in preparation; when that German fellow showed up in Tehran in 2014 threatening Iran with the Thirty-Year War.

Patrick Bahzad

Agree with you Martin about next phase in the making. However I get the feeling the Saudis are running out of options regarding local proxies that have the ability and will to confront the houthis head on. If they had them, they might have wanted to start with such a "war by proxies" rather than launching a massive campaign of air strikes that looks like a last ditch effort to prevent what had been coming for months.
I think the push for the Red Sea coast made by the houthis was definitely something that had all the chairborne strategists from Riyadh to Washington jump from their seats ...
We will see about the turn of events, with various factions being forced to re enter around their power base, including the houthis, but nothing is certain. In any case, more chaos and destruction is a distinct possibility and I know there's only one type of group that would benefit from it, one that isn't friendly neither to the Saudis nor to the Iranians.

Patrick Bahzad

Thought you might ask that question, therefore didn't ask myself !

Personally I have trouble following this obsession with the Iranian peril at a time when its other state and non state actors that are setting the Middle East on fire ... But maybe I have a wrong read on this.

I remember a period in the 1980s where destabilization through Iranian proxies was a concern for us, right now I can see only two countries having those complaints. And I'm not counting in the U.S.

Maybe Martin has a better take on things. Would be looking forward to his analysis. No pun intended !



Im trying to understand Saudi actions from a Saudi point of view in order to see what they will do next. This war forms part of a wider Saudi-Iranian struggle. I have no dogs in either fight. If Saudi intervention in Syria is despicable then so too is Iranian militia building in Yemen.

I happen to be attached to Yemen as a country and as a people. It has occupied my life for the past several years. My "dog" is Yemen. Unfortunately they seem all too willing to fight each other with the minimal prodding from either Saudi or Iran.

If American intervention in Ukraine is to be condemned then, by extension, Iranian intervention in the inherently unstable state of Yemen must also be condemned.



This push for the Red Sea and for Aden is a bit of a chimera. Saleh controlled Aden, the Red Sea coast and the rest of Yemen. There was no withdrawal of any of the many brigades around Yemen (about 10 estimating from the top of my head) instead there was a relentless "push" by the Houthis through infiltration and through movement from Sanaa.

I believe that this is not about physical control of these geographic areas but about the need of Saleh/Huthis to quash the idea of separation of the South. They knew there would be resistance due to the occupation since 1990 and the steady stream of murders of opposition leaders. This is about re-establishing psychological control over the civilian population to cow them into submission.

A few more days of this and they will have achieved their objective. They have already started to target the known resistance elements - who are not AQ/ISIS as the Houthis/Saleh have been trying to paint them. In fact AQ is markedly absent from this conflict. They released 150 fellow AQ prisoners in Mukalla last night but these are Saleh AQ and are being fought in the streets by local Southern resistance.

If the Saudis don't intervene to stop the takeover of Aden then I fail to understand why they launched an air campaign at all. Humiliation beckons I feel...

Patrick Bahzad

I have no trouble with you having a different view on things, however I fail to recognize the consistency of your input: on the one hand warning against the danger of Iranian influence in Yemen but on the other hand dismissing the risk such influence might have, from a Saudi point of view, on the safety of maritime traffic in the Red Sea.
When/if houthis turn up in mocha, I'm sure we'll hear the same old stories about pasdarans setting up silkworm missiles there as well ...
As for resistance to houthis and saleh, you're right they're not all AQ and certainly not ISIS but they're all more or less inspired either by Salafi creed or sponsored by the muslim brotherhood ... East of Aden at least there's no doubt about that in my mind !

Babak Makkinejad

You cannot be serious about "...trying to understand Saudi actions from a Saudi point of view .."

It is quite simple: Wahhabis have visceral hatred of the Shias and in addition to the general Arab dislike of Iran out of envy.

And as to making an analogy to US intervention in Ukraine:

Who is the Iranian counter-part of Ms. Nuland?

And the "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies"?

And where are the training camps - in analogous manner to those in Poland and Lithuania - in which proxy forces have been trained by Iran or her agents?

I am puzzled by your statements - making statements as though Saudis have a case.


More on Yemen:

The Saudis, with sleazy friends in Langley and unlimited cash to throw around, have incredible control over world media. They do such a good job of suppressing news about their long war with the Shia of Yemen that, until I lived there and got the story first hand, I didn’t even know that the Shia of Najran had actually risen up in armed rebellion in 2000. And it was an incredible story of a glorious, though doomed, rebellion.

In 2000, the Shia of Najran got sick of being told by their Saudi Provincial Governor (a Saudi princeling, naturally) that they were rafidii (“nay-sayers”) and takfiri (“apostates”). The Najrani grabbed their guns, scared off the Saudi national police and drove Prince Mishaal into hiding in the Najran Holiday Inn. You can still see the Holiday Inn; it’s as good as a Gettysburg monument to the locals, though the bullet holes have, unfortunately, been covered over.

That unknown rebellion ended with massive Saudi secret-police reprisals—more holes in the desert than a Joe Pesci golf tour. Once they’d killed off the ringleaders, the Saudi authorities went back to slower, less bloody methods.
End quote.


Damn, this was a good read. Thanks much.

Babak Makkinejad

There was an old joke:

The ambassador of a Third World country walk into US State Department and asks to see the Secretary of State.

When audience is granted, he asks for how to apply for US aide to alleviate crushing poverty.

The Secretary of State asks: "Do you have any communists?"

The Ambassador, puzzled, says "No. But why do you ask?"

The Secretary of State says: "Because if you did, we can give you money to fight them."

The Ambassador then asks: "Where can I get some communists?"

To which the Secretary of State replies: "Oh, do not worry, poverty usually produces them."


Honestly, Iran seems much more reasonable to deal with over Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf satrapies. "Dangerous Iranian influence" is what is keeping ISIS contained in Syria and in other points across the MENA sphere.

Conflating Iran's raising of militias with Saudi/Turkish/Sunni support for cannibal jihadis ain't exactly apples to apples at best, and is purposeful disinformation at worst.


"when that German fellow showed up in Tehran in 2014 threatening Iran with the Thirty-Year War."

Interesting, Babak.

I am always interested in both Iranian-German news as in rumors. The Neocon-network-rumormill spread a rumor about Kohl, interestingly enough...parading as holocaust denier in Iran.

But I assume this wasn't a "holocaust denier" but then who was "the felloow" and what did he threaten?


Nitwitty of course: "Salafi creed or sponsored by the muslim brotherhood"

state/institutional sponsorship versus ideological triggers?

If I may make an associative mental step, admitting that I may not have paid attention to details, what hard facts do we have that the Saudis do financially support ISIS. "Saudis" versus some type of "fourth line inheritors of Saudi power" or other Saudi elites that is?

Never mind the ideological continuities that can be traced between Saudi Wahhabism and Salafism. ... I am in the process of trying to get a slight 'reading basis' for that.


“Officially, the air, land and sea components that have been assembled under the operational leadership of Saudi-Arabia look impressive. In fact, they are all but impressive. “

Is this another way of saying, Lead from behind??? not saying who, it is a secret. Also, is it not likely that some of the pilots are mercenaries and likely US pilots? And US designated targets, etc??

“The closing of various religious schools, in particular the Al-Iman mosque of Sanaa, which had been run by a former associate of Ossama bin Laden, bears testimony to the sectarian dimension of this war “

So if US attacks OBL and his clan, it is called terrorist operation, but if the locals try to rid themselves of terrorists, you call it sectarian dimension! That divide is more a reflection of US policy in the region than the reality on the ground. Is it not? Is that region not based on various tribals who have been at odds and alliance with one another and against one another in one time or another?

Patrick Bahzad

I'm not sure I understand your questions but from what I gathered here's my answer:
- no U.S. military involvement other than Intel and logistics.
- an associate of OBL is not nessecarily a terrorist especially as I said a former associate. Unless you consider any associate of OBL is a terrorist in which case a number of US citizens and government officials would fall under the same category.
- I'm not sure what you mean by OBL clan
- I don't get what you mean by the U.S. being branded as terrorists for going after OBL ? Who said that ?



"... is it not likely that some of the pilots are mercenaries and likely US pilots?" It is not likely. SA spent many decades and a great deal of money having pilots trained by the US. They are not bad pilots. In the end they are good "stick and rudder men." The SA rulers are trying to demonstrate that they are serious people. They would not want US pilots to fly these missions. The unimpressive loss of two aircraft in the Gulf of Aden does not sound like USAF to me. "Mercenaries?" You must be a European. USAF or US Navy officers detailed to fly these missions would not be "mercenaries." Logistics The RSAF has a lot of contract logistical capability. They would not need US government support until they started to run out of parts and ordnance. If you think the US is "designating" places like mosques as targets you are a fool and probably yet another anti-American German. A ground offensive would be another matter. The SAers would quickly fall on their asses in that. pl



""or?" state/institutional sponsorship versus ideological triggers?" Keep working on it and you will find some tortured way to blame this on the US. pl



"with sleazy friends in Langley" They don't need help from Langley. The PR is industry in Washington, New York and London is gigantic and filled with heartless, intelligent and experienced men and women who are for rent for enough Saudi money. All you have to do is give them the money and they will take care of the "bidness." pl

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