Saturday, February 6, 2021

Biden Sells Out the Gulf Arab States

As noted in the previous post, the Biden administration is now undoing the Trump administration strategic realignment in the Middle East. It belongs to what Biden absurdly called his America is Back foreign policy.

When it comes to Yemen, America is Back means shafting our allies in Saudi Arabia and cozying up to the Iranian terrorist regime. When you hire senior foreign policy officials, in the State Department and the National Security Council, who are Iran-loving Israel-haters, that’s what you get. 

We need also mention that the United Arab Emirates are aligned with Saudi Arabia in their war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. And, as you know, the UAE is part of the Abraham accords. So naturally, they need to be punished. 

For the record, the Biden administration had put on hold a Trump administration arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. It can’t allow these nations to develop more constructive ties with Israel because that would undermine Iran’s influence in the region.

Among the analyses of the Biden retreat from Yemen is one by Victoria Coates, a senior fellow in the Center for Security Policy. As best I can tell, hers is far superior to most of the others, so I will present it to you. For the record, she worked on foreign policy in the Trump administration.

First, Coates remarks that the Biden administration retreat from Yemen is clearly an opening gambit, designed to improve relations with Iran-- but also to empower Iran.

All through the 2020 presidential campaign, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris signaled their intention to end US support for the Saudi-led military effort against the Houthi terrorists attempting to install a radical, Iran-style theocracy on the kingdom’s southern border. On Thursday, President Biden, possibly in preparation for diplomatic engagement with Tehran, made the formal announcement that US engagement in Yemen is ending.

Of course, the Yemeni Houthi have been firing missiles into Saudi Arabia. This means that the new Biden policy rewards aggression against an ally. Whenever you hear the administration whining about relations with our allies, keep this in mind.

On Jan. 23, just three days after Biden’s inauguration, the Houthi — who are supported and trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps —  launched a missile or drone toward Riyadh, which Saudi air defenses fortunately intercepted. The intent was clear: to indiscriminately target civilians (including Americans) and civilian infrastructure in or near the Saudi capital. 

The Biden administration issued a pro forma statement that it supported Saudi Arabia’s defense-- an empty gesture from Iran sympathizers:

The attack was so brazen the Biden State Department was compelled to issue an official statement condemning it and pledging support for Saudi Arabia’s defense. Two weeks later, Biden continues to pay lip service to the kingdom’s defense, but apparently not at the cost of eradicating the source of the attacks — which is hardly going to deter the Houthi or their IRGC enablers.

And of course, Biden will no longer designate either the Houthi or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organizations:

The Houthi and the IRGC, both designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Trump administration, will now be emboldened to attempt more sophisticated and far-reaching attacks against our friends and allies across the region, including Israel.

Coates explains that the international media, following the lead of the Iranian propaganda machine, have cast the Houthis as rebels fighting Saudi imperialism.

The Yemen mission has never been popular for the simple reason that the Houthi, bolstered by the formidable Iranian propaganda machine, have successfully cast themselves in the court of public opinion as brave rebels battling Saudi imperialism. Those who unquestioningly accept this narrative fail to recognize the grim threat the Houthi pose to the stability of the entire Arabian peninsula, as well as to the vital shipping lane into the Red Sea through the Bab al-Mandeb strait.

In the best of times our engagement with Yemen has been limited. Now, as a signal of Biden’s wish to realign with Iran against Arab countries and Israel, helping out the Houthis is a first move on the diplomatic chessboard:

US support for the Yemen campaign — initiated, notably, by the Obama administration in 2015 — is limited to training to reduce civilian casualties and counter-terrorism missions, but it is an important symbol of American commitment to our alliance with the kingdom. This shift in policy sends a dangerous signal to the region that the United States is weak and conflicted, and that our support for our allies is wavering.

Coates sees through the ploy:

But at the very least, we should not undermine a key ally while it is taking live fire from enemies who hate us both in a futile attempt to placate Tehran or score domestic political points with constituents hostile to Saudi Arabia….

Those of us old enough to remember the attack on the USS Cole in the Bay of Aden know how dangerous Yemen can be, and if Yemen is abandoned to the Houthi and the IRGC, a bad problem could quickly metastasize into something far worse.

1 comment:

alfromchgo said...

ValJar and Mike be happy with this.