Middle East politics is complicated. It’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. Consider the events of this past week.
Yemen is a woebegone country that lies on the southern border of the Arabian Peninsula. It is noteworthy for two reasons: It is the new home for Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups that once resided in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan prior to the US invasions; and its geographic location is such that whomever controls Yemen controls the flow of oil from around the Arabian Peninsula to the Red Sea and eventually the shores of Western Europe.
The Yemeni government was once a partner to the US in the fight against terror; allowing the US to conduct drone strikes against key terrorist strongholds within Yemen’s borders. I say “was” because the Yemeni government no longer exits. Angered by their government’s partnership with the US, Houthi rebels, armed and trained by Iran, have driven the Yemeni government from power. The rebels now control roughly one third of the country. Anarchy reigns. The Yemeni president and his ministers have fled. The violence is so bad that the US has closed its embassy and ordered all US citizens and military personnel to leave the country. Even the Special Ops forces that provided logistical support for the drone strikes have pulled out. You know it’s bad when the Seals bug out.
Just across Yemen’s northern border lies Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are very concerned about maintaining the security of that border. This week the Saudi Air Force, assisted by US technical and logistical support, launched a series of airstrikes against the Houthi rebel forces and amassed 150,000 troops along the Saudi/Yemen border. The Saudis are backed by a 10 nation coalition of regional Arab countries. Egypt has sent ten warships to the Yemeni shores to protect the flow of commerce.
To summarize…in Yemen, US backed Saudi forces are fighting AGAINST Iranian backed Houthi rebels…who have overthrown the US backed Yemeni government.
Are you with me so far?
Now let’s turn to Iraq and the war against ISIS.
In Iraq, US military forces continue to attack ISIS targets from the air. The ground war against ISIS in Iraq is being conducted by the US backed Iraqi army along with Iranian backed militia. Except in the battle to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit; where the Iranian backed militia have refuse to fight because they are pissed off at the US for conducting bombing raids in the city. The Iranians wanted to take Tikrit without US help.
To summarize…In Iraq, US backed Iraqi forces are fighting WITH Iranian backed forces against ISIS…except in Tikrit.
Are you still with me?
It’s simple…the United States is fighting WITH Iran in Iraq…and AGAINST Iran in Yemen.
My head hurts!
Leave it to the “Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart to put it all into perspective: “So after 20 years of destabilizing the region, the United States is fighting a proxy war against itself.
Check in with this space tomorrow where, assuming my head stops hurting, we will examine our “Fighting with Iran/Fighting against Iran” foreign policy vis a vis the ongoing nuclear talks with our enemy Iran…which are being undermined by our ally, Israel.