Yemen and Iran: What’s really going on?

Brian Whitaker writes: The words “Iranian-backed” and “Houthi” are now coupled together in virtually every media report about the conflict in Yemen. Nobody – least of all, the Iranians – would deny that Iran supports the Houthis. But how extensive is that support and what forms does it take?

Where some kinds of support are concerned, Iran makes no attempt at disguise, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) noted in report last week:

“Since a Houthi delegation visited Tehran in March, Iranian support has become more vocal, promising economic aid that includes expanding ports, building power plants and providing fuel.”

But while “Iranian-backed” can be a factually accurate description (at least up to a point), it is also being used emotively to muster support for the Arab military intervention in Yemen. In their scaremongering about Iran, the Saudis in particular are now singing from Netanyahu’s song sheet. Writing in the New York Times, for example, Saudi propagandist Nawaf Obeid holds Iran – rather than the Saudi government – responsible for most of the kingdom’s ills. The Saudi leadership faces a number of issues,” he writes, “but most of them stem from Iranian aggressiveness.”

Some Saudis go so far as to assert that the conflict in Yemen is not about Yemen at all. Saudi Arabia needs to have a war with Iran, one of them coldly informed me last week – so it’s better to have the war on Yemeni soil than Saudi soil. [Continue reading…]

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