Yemen is a nation wracked by civil war. Houthis rebels, armed, trained and largely directed by Tehran have been tearing the country to pieces for years. An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has been attempting to prevent Yemen from becoming another failed state and the entire Arabian Peninsula from being destabilized.
All of that is about to change. Biden, fresh from surrendering Afghanistan to terrorists and the Chinese has moved on. Now, he is surrendering Yemen to the Iranians.
The Houthis have a massive arsenal of Iranian missiles and drones. They are in the midst of an offensive using those weapons against targets inside Saudi Arabia – including critical oil industry installations. Even as that barrage continues, Biden is now pulling U.S. antimissile batteries out of Saudi Arabia and leaving that nation at risk.
The Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia hosted several U.S. antimissile batteries. The Pentagon deployed Patriot antimissile and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia in January 2020. The deployment occurred following September 2019 missile and drone attacks on Saudi’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities. All these systems are now gone, and Washington will also soon remove THAAD and Patriot antimissile batteries from Iraq, Kuwait, and Jordan.
Taking away defensive missiles from the Saudis and our other Arab allies is only part of Biden’s capitulation, however. In February, Joe ended all support for Saudi military operations in Yemen. Simultaneously, it delisted Yemen’s Houthi movement as a “foreign terrorist organization” and “Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” undoing action taken by former President Donald Trump. That action removed a whole host of sanctions aimed at the Houthis.
Just to make sure everyone understood that we were effectively switching sides in the conflict over Yemen, Biden then unfroze $3 billion worth of Iranian assets and then released them to Tehran.
Meanwhile, as we are walking away, already massive Iranian support to the Houthis is only being ramped up and the scope of Houthis attacks is being increased.
“In the Yemen context, we have seen more attacks from the Houthis launched at Saudi Arabia in the first half of this year than we have for several prior years,” Dana Stroul, the Pentagon’s top official for policy in the Middle East, told lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently.
“Iran is increasing the lethality and complexity of both the equipment and the knowledge it transfers to the Houthis so that they can attack Saudi territory [and] Saudi civilians,” Stroul told lawmakers.
Iran recently sent its Houthi allies in Yemen “suicide drones” capable of reaching Israel or striking other U.S., Saudi or Gulf targets within a 1,240-mile range. That means these “loitering munitions” can among other things hit targets in the Red Sea – a vital shipping route within striking distance.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has set up a new training base in Iraq for members of Iranian regional proxies including the Houthis. Drones, which are cheap and hard to stop, are increasingly the ‘go to’ weapon for Iran and its Hezbollah style clones across the Middle East
The IRGC has also been smuggling fighters from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan into Yemen to fight alongside the Houthis. Many of these mercenaries are recruited and trained in Iraq and Syria and then, after training, moved into Yemen by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. There are more than 3,000 IRGC-affiliated fighters from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon in Yemen at this time, according to Abaad Studies and Research Centre director Abdulsalam Mohammed.
Speaking back in February, Joe Biden said, “The war in Yemen must end.” Having seen how Afghanistan has played out we now know exactly what that means. It does not mean the war must be brought to a successful conclusion. It does not mean fanaticism and extremism must be defeated. It means we will cut, run and abandon our allies.
The feeling right now in Riyadh must be one of increasing panic. There are reports of increasing cooperation between the Saudis and the Israelis. That is understandable and probably indispensable. Biden is surrendering Yemen to the Iranians. The entire Middle East may not be far behind. Our erstwhile allies are on their own.