“The U.S. Navy … has dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt toward the waters off Yemen to join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the rebels, U.S. officials said,” the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday.
Iran has not been found shipping arms, but you won’t learn that from mainstream news accounts. Nor do the media ask why the United States and its allies — but not Iran — may intervene in Yemen.
The Tribune, like all mainstream news outlets, refers to “Iran-backed Shiite rebels,” that is, the autonomy-minded and long-burdened Houthis, who are portrayed without evidence as agents of the Islamic Republic. The media are mere conduits for Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab Gulf states, which have an interest in falsely portraying the turmoil in Yemen, long racked by civil war, as an instance of Iranian expansion. The Sunni Arab states don’t want Shiite Persians playing a prominent role in the region and becoming friendlier with the United States, while Israel uses Iran to take the world’s mind off the Jewish State’s brutality against the Palestinians. All this goes on while the United States negotiates curbs on a nonexistent Iranian nuclear-weapons program — to Saudi and Israeli consternation.
While the media fill American minds with almost nonstop propaganda about Iran’s ambitions, the U.S. intelligence agencies have their doubts. Why don’t the media report this, considering that Obama has facilitated the Saudis’ naval blockade against Yemen and its off-again/on-again bombing campaign? As a result of this war, Yemen suffers a humanitarian catastrophe, complete with refugees, food shortages, and the slaughter of civilians.
Fortifying doubts about Iranian backing of the Houthis, the Huffington Post, citing “American officials familiar with intelligence around the insurgent takeover,” reports that “Iranian representatives discouraged Houthi rebels from taking the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last year” (emphasis added).
This conflicts with the popular belief that the Houthis, who practice a Shiite offshoot that differs significantly from Iranian Shiism, moved on the capital under orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“The newly disclosed information casts further doubt on claims that the rebels are a proxy group fighting on behalf of Iran,” continue the authors, Ali Watkins, Ryan Grim, and Akbar Shahid Ahmed, “suggesting that the link between Iran and the Yemeni Shiite group may not be as strong as congressional hawks and foreign powers urging U.S. intervention in Yemen have asserted.”
Do congressional hawks and foreign powers, that is, Israel and Saudi Arabia, care what the facts show? Facts have nothing to do with this. Iran is the bogeyman, so all troubles must be traced to its door. Nothing — especially the truth — can be allowed to stand in the way.
The article adds that “the revelation that the Houthis directly disobeyed Iran gives credibility to the White House’s argument that Iran is not directing the rebels” (emphasis added). It quotes Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, who says, “It remains our assessment that Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen.”
To drive the point home, the authors quote a U.S. intelligence official: “It is wrong to think of the Houthis as a proxy force for Iran.”
So why does Obama help the Saudis murder Yemenis?
Directing the Houthis and aiding them are two different things, of course, but Iranian support in the face of long-standing Saudi and U.S. intervention hardly seems remarkable. Reuters reported in December 2014 that “exactly how much support Iran has given the Houthis … has never been clear.” Moreover, the ships “suspected” of carrying arms are probably part of Iran’s anti-piracy patrol. (See Gareth Porter’s “Houthi arms bonanza came from Saleh, not Iran.”)
And let’s face it: the U.S.-backed Saudi war creates opportunities for al-Qaeda in the Iraqi Peninsula (AQIP) and ISIS, which the Houthis oppose.
The United States risks unlimited war with Iran by interfering in a civil war on behalf of malign outsider objectives. (It’s been droning Yemen since 2001.) By seeing the conflict through the Saudi and Israeli lens, Obama magnifies the human catastrophe.