Middle East: Yemen uprising, Iran nuclear issue directly connected

By Gil Elan

There is a direct connection between the escalating war in Yemen and the Iranian nuclear issue.
Israel has been monitoring Yemen’s Houthi uprising for more than a year now, and with good reason. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen are an Iranian proxy military force, shouting exactly the same slogans we heard in Teheran just last week: “Death to America! Death to Israel! Curse the Jews! Victory to Islam!”
The Houthi Zaidiyyahs, or “Fivers,” belong to a Shia sect with slightly different beliefs than those held by the Shiites in Iran, aka “Twelvers.” Despite this, they act in full allegiance to Tehran, which provides them with advanced weapons, equipment, training, leadership, reinforcements and money. Now that the Houthis have taken the strategic port town of Aden, at the entrance to the Red Sea, the concerns of Israel, Egypt and the Saudis, are clear:
An Iranian takeover of the narrow Bab el Mandeb Straits puts every ship sailing to or from Israel’s strategic port of Eilat and Egypt’s Suez Canal (which handles over two-thirds of Europe’s oil imports and about 10 percent the world’s commercial shipping) in direct threat of attacks by Iranian forces or their proxies.
The Iranian-Houthi takeover of Yemen has added to the rising influence of Iran in the region, enabling the jihadist Islamic Republic to vastly improve its position during the latest negotiations over its nuclear program. One immediate result is that decision makers in Israel, France and the Arab countries have come to an understanding over the past few months that the Americans have no intention of imposing demands on Iran with regards to halting military operations or terrorist attacks in other countries, as part of the deal over Tehran’s nuclear program.
But Israel’s concerns regarding the Houthi takeover of Yemen is nothing compared to the profound ire of Riyadh and other Sunni Arab countries, in light of Iran’s rampage throughout the Middle East and the blatant inaction on the part of the U.S..

Turning blame toward U.S.

The anger of the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Emiratis and other Sunni Gulf states is not directed at Iran, which is engaged in the kind of regional hostile activity expected of it, but mainly at Washington. They can’t understand the fact that while the White House was intensively negotiating with Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement on that rogue nation’s nuclear program by the end of March, the Shiites in Tehran toppled a majority Sunni regime and made significant territorial advances. Yemen is a state with a long and unmanned border with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s number one regional rival. Yet Washington remained silent.
This just adds to the concerns of Arab and Israeli leaders who are still struggling with the White House’s insistence on demonstrating exceptional weakness in its ongoing talks with Tehran. The expectation by Sunni Arabs and Israelis was that the world’s major powers will at least try to pressure Tehran to halt its military operations in a variety of destinations in the Middle East, as part of any deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
Such pressure against Tehran over its involvement in Yemen or Iraq, such as leaving economic sanctions in place, could inspire the ayatollahs to reconsider their advances in the region. But for now, under the White House “zero action” policy, Iran continues doing whatever it wants without having to miss a beat.
A Houthi/Iranian victory in Yemen, combined with a weak “P5+1” nuke deal, will have major negative ramifications throughout the Middle East. It will:

  • Give Iran its long desired domination over a huge swath of the Middle East including (until further notice . . .) Iran, Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and most of Syria.
  • Enable Iran to expand its planning and support of worldwide terrorism.
  • Start an immediate nuclear arms race in the region amongst unstable regimes.
  • Threaten shipping through the Suez Canal.
  • Threaten every American asset and interest in the world.
  • Continue to directly threaten Israel’s long-term security, as well as the security of every American-allied Sunni country in the region and beyond.

Is it too late to do anything? Of course not!
By the time you read this we’ll know if the Iranian nuke deal is absolutely great (not just “good”), meaning it ends any chance of Iran having nuclear weapons of any form, at any time in this or the next century, and includes cessation of all Iranian military and terrorist actions.

America should prep for action

But . . . if the deal Tuesday is less than “great” or if the negotiations are once again “extended,” then this is the time for America to wake up, behave like the exceptional superpower and world leader it is, and simply fulfill the promises, treaties, guarantees and commitments it gave to Israel and the Sunni states in the Middle East.
This is the time for the U.S.A. to:

  • Understand that the current Iranian regime is dead-set on having nuclear weapons, destroying Israel and expanding its hegemony throughout the Middle East and Europe.
  • Internalize that this not a regime that negotiates “in good faith,” nor does it negotiate according to Western culture or norms.
  • Accept the fact that no one in the P5+1 negotiating team has a clue about Middle East, and specifically Persian negotiating customs or tactics.

Realize that the only diplomacy they respect is good old American “Gunboat Diplomacy.” Therefore the U.S. could:

  • Launch a warning “shot across the bow” at one of the nuclear facilities. Maybe one or two conventionally armed cruise missiles, to make an unambiguous point.
  • Promise that if Iran does not sign a “great” nuke deal within 72 hours (time for foreigners to evacuate to predesignated safe areas), then it will feel the full wrath of an angry America and our fed-up regional allies.
  • If they sign — great. But if they don’t sign, then . . .
  • Keep the damn promise! (It worked with Japan, right?)

Either way the main upsides are:

  • Renewed respect for America in the Middle East and the world.
  • Israel and Sunni Arab countries will feel safer,.
  • No nuclear arms race, at least for a while.
  • Iran pulls out of Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

And that’s the connection between the war in Yemen and Iran’s nukes.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

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