Yemen shapes up for US-Iran military clash

DEBKA

Eight armies are fighting for dominance in Yemen, a country of 25 million inhabitants: The Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents, together with a breakaway force, are battling the army loyal to President Abdulrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which is supported by Saudi, Egyptian and UAE military forces and their hired legion of Colombian mercenaries.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) elements, most acting as advisers to the Houthi rebels, intervene actively from time to time. Last October, they conducted missile attacks on US vessels on the Red Sea from shore batteries. In response, the US Navy on October 9 and 12 knocked out those batteries and the radar stations that were manned by IRGC teams.

Tehran countered by deploying to Yemen long-range Shahed 129 drones carrying Sadid-1 rockets and sowing sea mines around the international Bab Al-Mandeb Straits.

US President Donald Trump’s sharp warning on Friday, Feb. 3, after just two weeks in office, that Iran was “playing with fire” and the fresh round of sanctions he clamped down were galvanized by Iranian aggression in Yemen and the Red Sea as much as by its ballistic missile test.

And indeed, the deployment of the USS Cole destroyer to the strategic Red Sea Straits of Bab Al-Mandeb on the same day turned the compass needle toward the potential arena, should the escalating tension between the US and Yemen explode into a military encounter, such as a US special operations force going into Yemen to strike IRGC targets.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the Trump administration would find this battleground expedient out of six considerations:

1. It would enable the US to keep the confrontation within controlled limits, by claiming it was acting against the Houthi insurgents in Yemen – not a directly attack Iran.

2. If Iranian Revolutionary Guards “happened” to be caught in the fire, Washington would ask what they were doing in Yemen, when Tehran denied its intervention in the Yemeni civil war.

3. Iran would not necessarily be compelled to hit back directly so long as the US avoids direct attacks on its soil.

4. It would provide serious support for the Saudi and UAE armies, whose armies’ entanglement in the Yemen conflict is deepening without their making real headway against the Houthis. President Trump would show Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Cairo, that he is on their side in the fight against Iran.

5. Iran is capable of coping with the regional armies ranged against the Houthi rebels, but any substantial US military intervention might force Iran to reconsider its support for the Yemeni insurgency.

6. The Russians are not involved in Yemen and any US intervention can be kept quite separate from the Trump administration’s evolving political and military partnership with Moscow in Syria.

By the same token, Washington is keeping its hands off Libya, where last week, the Russians began sending military advisers to assist the American-Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who controls large parts of the eastern oil-rich region. The planes which fly the advises in are carrying Hafter’s wounded men out to hospitals I Russia.

February 5, 2017 | 2 Comments » | 49 views

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2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. The US involvement in Yemen willl be – no doubt – successful , BUT Iran will apply pressure by proxies ( Hamas in Gaza – Bahrein – Turkey – Lybia – Egypt – iranian ballistic missiles trials – Afghanistan – North Korea ) to sow more troubles and create diversion , along the ” classical tune ” i.e the US involvement ” inflame ” the whole MidEast . At some point , the Trump admnistration will be at a crossroad , either to hit the head of the snake , or to pursue the snake eggs all around the MidEast.
    In Syria , Iran will play with his ally close to his chest ; The more IRGC will help Assad repel ISIS , the more Iran will try to appear on the good side of the fence, by fighting ISIS.
    Given the febrility of the President and his lack of strategic vision , Iran will play around the game of ” death by a thousand cuts ” , i.e sowing terrorism-political ploys all around the MidEast while trying to be ” helpful ” against ISIS.
    So I suggest to D.Trump to help Putin defeat ISIS in Syria , without offering Iran to be involved in the theater. While ISIS is defeated in Syria by the two super-powers , each can set its own policy independently.

  2. I’ve read that one of the reasons that tiny Jewish forces defeated the numerically superior and better armed Arab forces during the War of Independence, was superior morale, organization, and national cohesiveness. I wonder what kind of a fighting force Yemenite Arabs would make if they were really motivated.

    All of the bodegas in Harlem, parts of Brooklyn, maybe all of New York City, are run by Yemenite Arab families who have maybe a couple of employees from the neighborhood but are basically family run. They have a unique structure which is giving them the ability to engage in what Marx called “primitive accumulation.” They are becoming rich this way, buying nice cars, homes, etc. But they all work in the stores from morning to night, 16, 17, 18 hour shifts (at minimum with no lunch break just a bite or a cigarette between customers) 6, 7 days a week for six months or a year and they take a vacation for the same period of time while they are replaced by other relatives. And thus, they are building family dynasties, but doing the grunt work themselves. They don’t work their employees like this.

    Similar to the ubiquitous Chinese take-out places. (And the Korean groceries 30 years ago, though they didn’t work these kind of hours, neither do the Chinese. 12 hours, tops.) Maybe that’s where they got the idea. But these tiny places are open 24/7 and they are on almost every block around here. What an army they would make.


    On grounds only of convenience, I’ve often wistfully wished they ran the Post Office and dry cleaning/tailoring establishments (which are mostly run by Koreans and to a lesser extent ethnic Chinese from all over Asia, India and the Pacific).

    Though, obviously, security considerations would make it unwise for them to be in charge of dry cleaning/tailoring establishments.

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