« The Liberals' conversion to the support of States Rights ... | Main | Confronting Iran ? President Trump entering uncharted waters in Yemen (2) »

10 February 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


A great relief, pleased to see Rand Paul take such an active role in voicing his displeasure.

Given the media's issues with the truth I am not sure how much is true but it would worry me if Tillerson had sought to recruit Abrams. Claims also Bannon was key opponent of Abrams. I like Thiel and Bannon, good influences as far as I am concerned.



thanks, a good piece. Hope you don't mind when I disagree on some issues.

There is little to no evidence that Iran is actively supporting the Houthi. There were contacts and some intelligence training through Hizbullah before the Saudi war on Yemen but since it started nothing has come to the fore. No Iranian's weapons have been seen on the ground, no Iranian or Hizbullah advisors. The Daus the U.S. military claims were smuggling weapons to Yemen were on the way to Somalia (confirmed by the Australian Navy which caught some of them). Their load was old stuff not useful in Yemen. The Saudis and their proxies are losing so much weapons to the Houthi that there is no lack of good, modern stuff.
Indeed at times the Houthi publicly rejected any Iranian interference. When the Iranians asked the Houthi not to take Sanaa the Houthi ignored them.

AlQaeda in Yemen has some old timers from the Afghanistan war but the younger folks are all Yemenis on Saudi payrolls. (ISIS in Yemen is identical to AlQaeda according to Yemenis themselves. The same personal switching the label when convenient.)
The BBC even showed footage of "AlQaeda" fighting on the side of other Saudi proxies under former president Hadi. After the SEAL raid the Saudi proxy Hadi government lamented publicly that the SEALs had attacked its allies in the fight against the Houthi. The Yemeni ambassador to U.S. said that the "highest level" in the U.S. government know that this were the case.

There is a hidden fight going on between the Saudis and the UAE in south Yemen. The UAE wants the Yemeni ports under its DP World harbor management control. The Saudis want the Yemeni oil ports for additional export pipelines that avoid the Street of Hormuz.
The Saudi proxy al-Qaeda attacked UAE forces in south Yemen several times. The SEAL raid against those Saudi proxies was accompanied by UAE special forces.

Hamas does not get Iranian support since it took sides against the Syrian president Assad. It is not a part of "the resistance" and would not be counted on to act against Israel.

Last month Oman formally joined the Saudi alliance against Yemen. It closed all its official border crossings to Yemen.

The Saudis long recognized they can not defeat the Houthi on the battle field. They are systematically starving them. The borders are closed, the coasts are blocked. The UN is bribed or blackmailed and hindered. It is not allowed to deliver food. Ten thousands are starving. Soon it will be millions. Reporting on that is sparse. The world looks aside.

In all - I do not see an Iranian strategy of closing the Mandib street. It would be pretty much impossible anyway and using Yemen for that purpose is dubious. All coast areas in Yemen are outside of Houthi core territory.

Hormuz can be closed for a long time unless the U.S. invades Iran. Iran has lots of other leverage in the area. It can threaten all U.S. bases and all significant oil production. It can take U.S. forces hostage in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan via various proxy forces. It can escalate against Israel.

I do not see any possibility to attack Iran via Yemen. To interfere there is more a move to pamper the Saudis who will have to buy trillions of treasuries Trump will print and throw on the markets.

When the U.S. sinks into the Yemeni quagmire the Iranian rulers will sit back, watch and laugh their asses off.

alba etie

And I think it was last night ( or night before ) that President Trump & Secretary of State Tillerson dined in at the White House with Shel Adelson the number one Bibi financial donor & supporter . ( Mr Adelson has that Macua gambling concession that apparently is an unprecedented money generate for the www Likud ...) .All of this chest thumping towards Iran is directly linked to the Ziocons that have infiltrated the new USA administration . We shall see how this affects your self described conservative revolutionary project , ...especially if we really do move the US Embassy to Jerusalem . (BIGLY SIGH ) ..what could possible go wrong - well at least for the moment we have reinstated the One China Policy ...

English Outsider

Mr Bahzad - it's instructive that in this wide ranging examination of US foreign policy in this area European "interests" or involvement are not included in the analysis. Does this indicate that the Europeans are being side-lined, or is continued European support assumed?

Patrick Bahzad

H, is that the "feel good" quote of the week ? hope it won't come to this !

Patrick Bahzad


Yes Saleh is an "indie" player in this game, but he's a force in his own right. How long has he been around again ? For that reason alone, he should not be under-estimated. Maybe engaging him in some way would be more fruitful than antagonising him and the houthis any further ?

Guess you're right about Yemen being a soft spot for what some ppl in the administration have in mind. I'm not sure however once things are set in motion, that it would remain a soft spot for long. How long have the Houthis been fighting for now ? and how did the fathers and grand-fathers fight in the 60s ? We should be cautious about history and don't forget about its lessons.

Patrick Bahzad


You're free to have an strong opinion on this topic, but I don't think there's any comparison between the US today and the Germans in WW2. I encourage you to use more relevant analogies in the future, might actually carry more weight.

Patrick Bahzad


I don't think I analysed Iran's intentions, I tried to describe some of the thinking behinds their moves in the region and why Yemen might matter to them in that regard.

More generally, a State acts according to its (perceived) interests, whether that means "being helpful to the US" or on the contrary "backing up anti-US proxies".

Thx for the link to the Bacevich piece. I fully agree, as you may find out if you read the 2nd part of my piece about Yemen.


"the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world"

Patrick, since I read your article yesterday, the last two paragraphs seem to have gone. Now incidentally, it ended on a theme my mind has been circling around more vaguely too lately. Obviously without your military expertise and knowledge.

But concerning the above. Yes it feels we are partly back in a mental context reminiscent of about a decade ago after Operation Iraqi Freedom, slightly post mission accomplished. Randomly put: let's take out the main state sponsor. It may be even more focused now. Since it feels the talk then was about plural sponsors and now we its "the" sponsor:


thanks, interesting.


I am not sure if it is correct to assume that Iran just became powerful after the US' failed policy of attacking Iraq. There is a political load to that,the load is to say Iran's power was generated by an outside state, regardless of, if it was given to her at will ( like US' support for KSA or Israel etc.), or by a mistake like in a zero sum geopolitical game. Iran gained more power due to Iraq fall, but as an independent state( the only one in western asia) Iran was (soft) powerful already.
Iran has been a powerful state because of her geostrategic location and his demography throughout her history. Iran, after her revolution, at odds with all her neighbours, both superpowers and their european allies, was able to fight Saddam for 8 years on her own, while saddam was militarily and financially helped from all sides even protected at sea. You don't think that was powerful. States get their main power, (their good power) from internal support and their constituencies.


"When the U.S. sinks into the Yemeni quagmire the Iranian rulers will sit back, watch and laugh their asses off."

This is already the case with Saudi, and UAE being down in the Yemen swamp hole.


This is good news for China. They're already doing well in Africa.




"both petulant and personal"

So many articles on the Trump administration are like bad attempts at 'Kremlinology'... what is really going in the court of the President is often the subject of biased speculation in the MSM. Not trustworthy. I am highly skeptical of the accuracy of any so-called insights into the dynamics of the President's inner circle.


Agreed. The Borg is vast and powerful, with many minions who have big career ambitions. Pax Americana is THE empire of our time... with opportunities to play power games galore for those who reach the highest ranks of empire. The question is merely what flavor of imperialism is favored.

The neocons went blatantly against Trump, so they are persona non grata. However, given Trumps strong connections to Israel the Ziocons are coming to the forefront. Bannon is no Ziocon, but he is not the only person who has the President's ear. Trump has signaled in many ways that he is strongly pro Israel, though what specific directions that takes remain to be seen. Probably depends on how large the Ziocon faction ends up being.

Much as I wish the US would stop playing it's imperial games in the sandbox of the Middle East, it's not going to happen... no matter who is president. Best we can hope for is less chaos and less death and destruction, and possibly some slightly more constructive trends.


"At the end of the day, like in business negotiation, if the threats and walking away from the deal don't work, you will be left at a disadvantage,"

Long ago Col. Lang said that in the ME negotiation doesn't begin until the end goal is established.

It may be that Iran understands the wild-west American temperament and is willing to that into account up to a point.

Babak Makkinejad

Iranians took advantage of the opportunities that was presented to them - say like US did after World War II; USSR had won that war but US emerged as the international colossus bestriding the globe.

It all goes back to the Iran-Iraq War during which Iran and Iranians were pushed too far - as the American idiom goes.

The wise policy would have been to leave them alone to sort out their own problems after the Iranian Revolution in 1979; but all these presidents, kings, prime ministers, and assorted other potentates could leave that one well alone.

In regards to Hezbollah; Israelis murdered wantonly many Shia Arabs in Lebanon; their usual modus operandi with Palestinians was extended to the Shia Arabs as well. (Greek news papers at that time carried many reports on the behavior of Israelis.)

That is when the Shia ran to Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini instructed the Iranian leaders to help the Shia in Lebanon: "Teach them how to fish..." was his sage advise.

Again, there were all those presidents, kings, prime ministers, and other potentates who thought that Israelis invading Lebanon was a dandy idea. Well, for them it was not; that was when the small Iranian presence grew in Lebanon.

And yet, we had the repeat of the same policy when US invaded Iraq in 2003 as well as in the case of the Syrian Civil War.

37 years of war, initiated not by Iran but by her enemies.

You cannot protect people from the consequence of their own actions.


I hope so too, but I would never underestimate their capacity for making a bad situation worse.

Thank you for two excellent articles.


b, Thanks for mentioning Dubai Ports World. Back in 2006 I was totally
opposed to the U.S. allowing them to take over all the main ports in the country, another GWB fantasy miraculously foiled.


"both petulant and personal"

Add to the bumbling Kremlinology aspect the fact that DJT, and probably Bannon as well, make a study of actively trolling and mis-directing the press. I don't believe a damned thing I read in the media about this administration; all is speculation even among the best analysts. Also I tend, for now, to caucus with those who believe there is a deeper game afoot which has yet to reveal itself clearly. Eighteen months will tell the tale. Just glad I am not watching HRC maneuver.


The reason I visit SST. Much to read and ponder from PB and b.
Carry on gents.



b has his own blog. Hint ... pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

September 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      
Blog powered by Typepad