UPDATE: Yesterday, a Japanese oil tanker and another vessel were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The Japanese ship is on fire apparently sabotaged by suspects unknown. Though the U.S. has been quick to blame Iran for the previous attack on several tankers in the past few weeks, it has offered little direct proof that its navy was responsible.
If this claim is true, it would indicate that the IRG has adopted the tactics of asymmetrical warfare employed by insurgent groups for centuries, if not millennia. When faced with an enemy possessing superior firepower, attacking discrete soft targets, harrying your enemy with a thousand paper cuts, is a classic strategy. It destabilizes without causing a direct confrontation. It forces your enemy to employ ever-increasing resources to defend his assets. It forces him to make a decision whether he wishes to match the escalation or determine that the price is not worth paying. In the case of a rash despot like MBS (or John Bolton), it provokes him into possibly making a rash decision which will expose his forces to peril, if not defeat.
This strategy is not without its dangers for the insurgent forces. They could provoke all-out war in which they could lose decisively. But it seems that the Houthis, and possibly Iran as well, feel they’re fighting on their regional home turf and defending their homeland and religious identity. Those are pretty strong motivators. While the Saudis are fighting a war of aggression, on another country’s battlefield, and doing so on behalf of a despotic tyrant. Those can carry you only so far in such an extended conflict.
During an interview on PressTV yesterday, the interviewer and another guest spoke extensively about the likelihood (in their view) of this being a false flag attack. While this is possible, it seems highly unlikely given everything we know so far. During my portion of the interview, I argued that these attacks are much more characteristic of guerilla warfare of an insurgent force fighting against a far stronger adversary. While this can be a dangerous tactic, it also may be the only possible response Iran can offer to the merciless international campaign to bring the nation to its knees financially, economically and militarily.
Today’s news report about Saudi outrage over a Houthi cruise missile attack against one of its major airports wins the Hypocrite of the Day award. The Saudis are in high dudgeon over the attack on their airport, which used missiles and technology that may have originated in Iran. This marks a major escalation in Houthi military power and technical expertise. The Saudis, you see, prefer their enemies weak and defenseless, subject to indiscriminate bombings offering no opportunity to resist or fight back. Now, the Yemeni resistance has proven that it is capable of carrying the fight to Saudi Arabia itself and, well, it enrages the young crown prince, known to the world as MBS.
By the way, as an aside, the world now knows where the mysterious $450-million purported Leonardo Da Vinci painting, Salvador Mundi is: on the crown prince’s super-yacht, the inaptly named, Serene. Let’s hope that a Houthi cruise missile doesn’t come crashing down and send MBS and his painting to the bottom of the sea.
Returning to the Houthis, Saudi Arabia can’t believe the effrontery of their enemies actually defending their homeland. It’s not supposed to be that way. But what really irks the House of Saud is the involvement of Iran in the conflict. According to an unwritten dictum, the Saudis are permitted to call themselves custodians of the holy places of Islam, to speak on behalf of the Muslim world, and to bully any fellow Arab or Muslim who stands in their way. But Iran, which also represents itself as a custodian of Shia Islam and its holy places, is something akin to a heretic.
I sometimes think of the Sunni-Shia split and wonder if Orthodox Judaism had its own army whether we non-Orthodox Jews would be treated the same way, given the hatred spewed by Israeli Orthodox rabbis against Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist denominations.
Saudi anger at Iran is the height of hypocrisy. It is the Saudis who commenced the war in Yemen. Iran played no role in the conflict until the Shia Houthis faced starvation and slaughter at the hands of the Saudi air force. And as it has ratcheted up the conflict and the death count, so has Iranian involvement increased. Now, the Saudis are worried that these new cruise missiles have upwards of an 800-mile potential range, long enough to strike Riyadh or the UAE, another partner of the Saudis in this mayhem. A war starts to look different when you find instead of taking the battle to the enemy, he can strike and hurt you where you live.
Take a look at who has armed the Saudis and enabled this slaughter: Britain, France, the U.S., among others. And they have the gall to cry that Iran has imported its weapons into the theater of conflict? Trump has the chutzpah to say that Iran is behind all the acts of terrorism he knows about?
…Every single problem caused in the Middle East , and maybe beyond, but in the Middle East was caused by Iran. They were behind every single, we had 14 different attacks at one point, they were behind every attack.”
Really? What about the 85,000 starving Yemeni children? What about the Saudi-funded ISIS, which played a major role in the Syria slaughter? Or the 3,000 Muslims our drone strikes have killed over the past decade (including during the Obama presidency)? Not to mention the million Iraqis who died before, during and after two U.S. invasions of that country since 2003.
So let’s stop feigning outrage when Iran and the Houthis are playing the same game as the Saudis, and probably better.