Ishaan Tharoor writes: Saudi Arabia frames its current military intervention into Yemen, which has involved wave upon wave of airstrikes for the past two weeks, as a bid to bring stability to a failing, unraveling state.
The country’s impotent Saudi-backed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, was forced to flee the southern city of Aden after being cornered by Houthi rebels. The Houthis had seized the capital Sanaa last autumn as a part of a slow-moving takeover of parts of the country. A mess of competing factions, including al-Qaeda, were now warring over whole stretches of Yemen. The Saudi-led campaign, Saudi officials insisted, would turn back the Houthi advance and restore Hadi’s “legitimate” government to power.
But another narrative also came immediately into play — that of a Sunni-Shiite proxy war between Saudi interests in Yemen and the Iran-backed Houthis, who belong to a Shiite sect patronized by Tehran’s theocratic leadership. [Continue reading…]