Monday, April 20, 2015

  • Monday, April 20, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
From TheHill:
U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran's support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war.

Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.

Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.

What's unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to "communicate it" to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

It is not clear what will happen as the convoy comes closer to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has deployed ships around Yemen to enforce the blockade, as has Egypt. An official said the ship convoy could try to land at a port in Aden, which the Houthis have taken over.

Although the U.S. is assisting with the Saudi-led air campaign, it is not participating in the naval blockade of Yemen, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder.

However, the U.S. Navy is in the region and has already "consensually boarded" one Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea on April 1 on the suspicion it was illegally carrying arms for the Houthis.

None were found, but the move raised alarm bells in Washington over an increasingly active U.S. military role in the conflict. The Pentagon indicated this week that more boardings could occur.

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Another theory is that Iran is trying to distract the coalition from another ship it has tried hard to conceal that is currently docked at Oman — a potential land route for smuggling arms into Yemen.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last week on Twitter taunted Saudi Arabia, calling its military puny and smaller than Israel's. He also said the air campaign was tantamount to genocide of innocent Yemeni civilians and that the U.S. would also fail in Yemen.
Clearly, US forces in the Gulf are not frightening Iran in the least. The mullahs have concluded that there is no way that Obama would do anything to upset them.

At any rate, Saudi Arabia is enforcing a real blockade against Yemen and there is a real humanitarian crisis there:
Millions of Yemenis, especially in the south, are living through similar hardship, cut off from food, water, electricity and other basic needs. As the bombing campaign enters its fourth week, aid agencies are warning of a burgeoning humanitarian crisis in what is already the Arab world’s poorest country.

“Probably in the last 10 years, it’s one of the worst crises that has hit Yemen and the situation is deteriorating very rapidly,” Abeer Etefa, World Food Programme’s spokeswoman for the Middle East and North Africa, said by phone from Cairo. “We’re talking here about really a very grim outlook.”

At the beginning of the month, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency said there were enough food stocks to last six months. But amid the fighting, those supplies are dwindling fast. On April 8, thick clouds of smoke hung over Aden when grain silos went up in flames.

No further food shipments are expected, Etefa said, as the coalition has blockaded ports to control shipping routes.
A country of 26 million, Yemen imports the bulk of its food, including nearly all its wheat and rice. The number of “food insecure” people in Yemen has increased to 12 million, a 13 percent rise since the start of the crisis, the WFP says.

Yemenis “will be starving soon, literally,” said Farea Al-Muslimi, a visiting scholar and Yemen analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
Yemen has 10 times the population of Gaza, and probably less than one percent of the news coverage that Gaza had last summer - despite Saudi airstrikes that have killed hundreds of civilians, a Saudi  blockade that is keeping out nearly all food, and even Saudi bombings of supplies of aid, as it did yesterday:
The relief organization Oxfam said in a statement on Sunday that the coalition had also bombed one of its storage facilities in Saada Province, in northwest Yemen.

“The contents of the warehouse had no military value,” the group said. “This is an absolute outrage, particularly when one considers that we have shared detailed information with the coalition on the locations of our offices and storage facilities.”
This morning, dozens more were feared killed after an apparent Saudi airstrike on a munitions dump in a residential area.

The lack of concern from so-called "peace activists" who were holding daily protests against Israel last summer is striking, but not surprising.



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