Yemen, Iran, and The Coming Attack On Israel

The new alliance between Israel and the UAE as well as Bahrain has upended the Middle East in many ways. From technology and innovation partnerships to military drills and intelligence sharing, the Abraham Accords has made the countries involved the most powerful the region has seen.

None of this has been lost on the Iranians, who understand that despite Biden’s desire to jump back into the nuclear deal, there will be little he can do about the growing strength of the Sunni-Israel alliance.

This is why the Iranians are using Yemen as a forward battle against Saudi clout on the Arabian peninsula. This was clearly demonstrated when the new Saudi backed Yemen government arrived at the Aden airport only to be attacked by Iranian backed Houthis. 26 people were killed the triple bombing and more than 60 wounded.

The blasts were so loud they were heard in Israel.

The message from Iran is clear: Don’t think about joining the Abraham Accords.

China, Djibouti, and the Control Over The Red Sea

Although most observers have focused their attention on the Persian Gulf, Yemen has strategic value to Iran as rests across the Bab al-Mandab Strait from Djibouti. This is one of the most important choke points for shipping in the world. Freighters travel through Bab al-Mandab Strait and bring oil and other commodities to the West.

This is why China has gone out of its way to build up its base in Djibouti, effectively giving it an advantage in controlling the Red Sea. Furthermore, Beijing has gone out of its way to invest in Eritrea and Ethiopia, securing most of the Horn of Africa.

This is why Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states have long seen the war in Yemen as critical in keeping the Chinese-Iranian alliance to only one side of the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Message to Israel

With Israeli arms sales and agri-tech development in Ethiopia and other countries on the Horn of Africa, Israel is hoping to keep pressure on Beijing to play fair by keeping the struggle economic.

Iran’s message to Israel is clear. Yemen may have a new government, but it still the Houthis that call the shots and with them the Red Sea and its shipping routes are up for grabs.

Iran is effectively using much of China’s investment in its Belt and Road Initiative to help build a net against Israel and her Sunni allies.

Yemen is critical in controlling both sides of the Bab al-Mandab Strait and with it, a crushing blow to peace in the region.

Trump to Mohammed bin Salman: Focus on Iran

When Donald Trump meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the president should have three clear and forceful messages for his reform-oriented guest: Focus your undivided attention to adopting a soft power approach to the Iranian regime, end the war in Yemen and lift your blockade of American ally Qatar.

These three interconnected messages that President Trump should deliver to MBS (as he is known) stem from a geopolitical reality that has been in existence for over 39 years: The Iranian regime continues to be the most serious threat to regional security in the Middle East and the major state-sponsor of terrorism. Concomitantly, the Iranian people continue to be the most serious threat to the Islamic regime and the only real hope for a fundamental change in Iran.

Mr. Trump and his national security team should make it clear to the crown prince that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to confront the Iranian regime by war through proxy in Yemen has not deterred the IRGC. Sadly, the conflict in Yemen is draining Saudi Arabia’s precious financial resources. According to some estimates, the Saudi effort to confront the Iranian regime in Yemen is costing the Kingdom around $1 billion per month.

After spending billions of dollars, Saudi Arabia is not close to thwarting the designs of Ayatollah Khamenei to build a beachhead on the Arabian Peninsula by supporting his Houthi allies. Spending a small portion of this $1 billion on a robust soft power approach toward the thugs ruling Iran would be a better investment by MBS.

The president should also ask that the Saudi crown prince lift the blockade of his smaller neighbor Qatar because this move has split the GCC and diverted the Security Pact’s attention from adopting a unified approach to confronting the threat posed by the Iranian regime. Qatar is home to America’s largest prepositioning based in the world and ExxonMobil is the largest investor in that country’s energy sector.

The Saudi crown prince may point to Doha’s ties with Tehran as one reason for the blockade. But for Saudi Arabia to criticize Qatar for its relations with Iran is unfair because Qatar shares a major natural gas field with Iran. If Qatar takes a hostile approach toward Iran Tehran will react negatively and jeopardize the flow of natural gas to world markets.

Just ask Azerbaijan, another American ally. In 2000, Iranian gunboats threatened work on a 10 billion barrel oil field in the Caspian Sea thus denying Azerbaijan the ability to monetize a major energy asset.

Mr. Trump should applaud the young ruler of Saudi Arabia for his boldness in wanting to confront the Iranian regime but he should also point out that If Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman adopts a robust, consistent and efficient soft power policy in his dealings with the Islamic regime, he will have the full support of the president and his entire national security team.

The United States government should make it loud and clear to MBS that by solving the “Iran Problem” through non-military means he will usher in a new geopolitical and economic dynamic within the broader Middle East.

While MBS and his father, King Salman, may be aware of the consequences a soft power approach toward the theocratic regime in Tehran, it may be worth Mr. Trump emphasizing to the crown prince the tectonic geopolitical ramifications of a new order in Iran:

No more funding for groups like Hamas (who are holding Palestinians hostage in the Gaza Strip) and Hezbollah (who are holding the people of Lebanon hostage to their dogma); an end to support for Houthi rebels in Yemen; liberating Bahrain (home to America’s Fifth Fleet) from the constant threat of IRGC adventurism; decoupling the butcher of Damascus (Bashar Assad) from his equally thuggish patrons; freeing Iraq of political intervention; demonstrating to the Muslim world the bankruptcy of Islamic ideology as a form of governance; and, removing an existential threat to Israel.

In addition to the aforementioned, Mr. Trump should strongly encourage MBS to adopt a soft power policy toward the regime in Tehran because a free and democratic Iran, at peace with itself and its neighbors will usher in a new economic renaissance for the entire region. The $2 trillion that are currently under the control of the region’s sovereign wealth funds can be invested inside Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait to boost human capital and create jobs.

Furthermore, these funds can also be put to productive use in rebuilding parts of Iraq, Yemen and Syria. And finally, Iran’s 80-plus million market can become a destination for investments by Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies.

Mr. Trump should encourage Mohammed bin Salman to adopt a course correction as it concerns Saudi Arabia’s policy toward the theocratic regime in Iran. The leader of the free world has a historic opportunity to point out to Mohammed bin Salman that by embracing a soft-power approach toward Iran he can go down in history as the leader who ushered in a renaissance for the people of his country and the region.

Originally Published in the Washington Times.

Saudi Forces Advance on Iranian Backed Houthis in Yemen

Reports coming from Yemen show the capture of many formerly Houthi-held positions in Al-Zarfa and Asilan districts located in southeast Yemen.

The Saudis and their local allies had managed to turn the tide against the Yemeni Army and the Houthi militias by seizing the entirety of Asilan and Bijan districts.

While the Houthis had been holding off an unprecedented combined assault by Saudi and allied forces, the current shift in the conflict in Yemen appears to be connected to infighting between the Houthis and the General People’s Congress (GPC) formed by deceased Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh was killed by the Houthis on Dec. 4th.

Meanwhile the Saudi Press Agency reports that the Houthis rebels suffered another blow as the Yemeni army who is working closely with Saudi Arabia said that its forces captured Abdul Malik Al Houthi a field commander closely allied with the Houthi militia.

In 2012 Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power after Arab Spring protests pushed Ali Abdullah Saleh from power.  In 2014, a Houthi coup backed by Iran placed Hadi under house arrest. Haidi escaed and shifted his base of power to Aden where he has led an offensive against the Houthis with the help of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni allies. Haid has since liberated 85% of Yemeni territory.  Despite this, the Houthis with the backing of Iran have been able to hold onto the capital of Sana’a.

Due to the humanitarian situation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has  agreed to open the Red Sea port city of Hodeida for 30 days to let in humanitarian supplies.

Israel Connection

The Saudi push against Iranian backed forces in Yemen comes at an important time as Hezbollah moves closer to Israel.  Although Israel and Saudi Arabia have no overt relationship, they often share intelligence and coordinate against their shared enemy of Iran.

IRAN ON THE MOVE: Mullahs Send Warships to Oman, Food to Qatar

The Iranian based Tasnim news agency reported that Iran is sending two warships, an Alborz destroyer and a Bushehr logistics warship to Oman on Sunday.  They will depart from the port city of Bandar Abbas. The move comes as tensions continue to rise between much of the Sunni Arab world and Qatar. The report says that the ships will continue from Oman to the Gulf of Aden, near Yemen.

Iran is continuing to step up its help to Qatar by flying food items to the isolated country.

“Following the sanctions … on Qatar, IranAir has so far transported food and vegetables to this country by four flights,” Shahrokh Noushabadi, head of public relations at Iran’s national airline, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Iran has been sending over 100 tons of food per day since the sanctions took effect.

Qatar only has one land route and that is through Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, it sits completely inside the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia, which means it is completely reliant on the Saudis for imports unless they are made by air.

Will Yemen Heat Back Up?

Although out of the news. The Yemen war, which pits Saudi backed government forces against the Iranian backed Houthis has largely been ignored by the world media.  With Iran on the move again, will their retaliation against Saudi Arabia  be in Yemen? Seemingly Iran has the ability to increase its military adventures in a few areas. One would be against Israel through its proxy Hezbollah and the other is certainly Yemen.

With Iran openly backing the Qataris against Saudi Arabia, the region is quickly moving to war and increased chaos. The challenge for the world community is that this war is taking place in two of the most important shipping lanes, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Any expanded war has the potential to affect shipping as well as spill over into a Sunni/Shiite wide conflict.

Iran has made its move. Are the Saudis ready to invade Qatar?


[watch] BREAKING: Yemen Fires Ballisitic Missile on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia…Has WW3 Begun?

The prophecies about the end of days tell us of a final war between Persia and Rome.  This war is sparked by an attack from Persia on [Saudi] Arabia forcing Arabia to ask for help from Rome.  The events of last night, now slowly trickling out of the Middile East is that Iranian backed Yemenis did indeed fire a ballistic missile on Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia last night. Could this be the beginning of the above mentioned war?

With Trump clearly putting the focus on the Iranian regime over the last week, this attack is a test of how committed he is to intervening and going head to head with the Ayatollahs.  If the answer is yes, then the security situation on the Arabian penninsula and beyond will start to unravel as more countries get involved.

The enusing conflict has the ability to quickly spiral out of control and turn into a global war.