Yemen: The Forgotten Neoconservative-Supported War in the Middle East

  • January 11, 2024
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In response to the Israeli assault on Gaza, the Houthis (Ansarallah) of Yemen have retaliated by launching at least six drone attacks directed at Israel and attacking Western ships passing through the Red Sea. By the looks of it, their attacks have been quite successful thus far: Israel’s Eilat port alone has seen an 85 percent drop in shipping activity.

To the United States, these actions of resistance and support of the Palestinian cause only present another opportunity for intervention and escalation. Just days ago, the United States announced the development of a coalition to combat the Houthi attacks. The coalition, ironically entitled Operation Prosperity Guardian, will include France, Bahrain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and five other nations alongside the United States.

Under the guise of protecting global trade, US officials are instead taking this opportunity as a chance to weaken Iran’s “axis of resistance” at any cost necessary. The Pentagon is so eager to engage in another conflict with the Houthis that they are willing to abandon the principles of the US Constitution just to get back at Iran.

According to the War Powers Resolution of 1973, “Only Congress can extend any foreign military action taken beyond the initial involvement,” yet the rhetoric from Washington doesn’t acknowledge this. Instead, we get the following from Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder: “Our military will not hesitate to take action where we deem it necessary and appropriate, including to protect against actions in the maritime domain that could threaten our troops.”

In other words, there is no hesitation and no restraint from US officials when it comes to potentially dragging US fighters and taxpayers into yet another war. Top US think tank directors like Gregg Roman have taken it a step further, calling for even greater funding of the disastrous war on Yemen, in which over eleven thousand kids have died so far.

At the root of neoconservative pleas for more anti-Yemeni assaults is the notion that, as Roman himself puts it, “the Houthis [are] Iran’s puppet terrorist group in Yemen.” That’s simply not true.

Even former US ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche admitted in writing later revealed by WikiLeaks that the Houthis acquire their weapons not from Iran but from the Yemeni black market. Mohammed Azzan, presidential adviser for Sa’ada affairs, further clarified that the Houthis acquire weapons within Yemen through various means, including capturing them on the battlefield or purchasing them from corrupt military commanders and soldiers.

As University of Ottawa professor Thomas Juneau noted, Tehran has only had a limited historic investment in the Yemeni civil war. In fact, Iran has even tried to restrain the Houthis by discouraging them from seizing the Yemeni capital in 2014. Iran’s involvement is nowhere near enough to turn the Yemeni civil war around in favor of the Houthis. As such, calling the Houthis Iranian puppets and viewing the ongoing Yemeni resistance against Israel as a chance to strike against Iran will only lead to more war and brutality.

We’ve already seen how US taxpayers’ dollars are used against Yemen. The same war hawks now leading the organization of Operation Prosperity Guardian are also calling for additional funding for the Saudi Arabian coalition against Yemen.

With the ongoing destruction in Gaza, the last thing the Arab world—and the American taxpayers—need is more US interventionism. That same US interventionism helped the Saudi-led coalition kill over twenty-four thousand civilians in aerial attacks alone.

Nearly every human rights organization, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, has accused the coalition forces of committing war crimes and deliberately targeting civilians. That has also helped isolate the United States on the global stage.

Already, US involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian war has cost taxpayers $3.3 billion annually, with an additional $14.5 billion check following October 7. This involvement isn’t only costly to American taxpayers, but it threatens American national security as well.

In response to US support for Israel and threats of US actions against Yemen, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi clearly articulated that if US ships were to pose a threat to his nation, the Yemenis would respond with a barrage of missiles and drones.

Although the United States has vastly superior military technology (for instance, $4 million US-made Standard Missile-6 in comparison to the Houthis’ $2,000 black-market drones), the carnage it would cause the Yemeni population, the international response to US intervention, and the economic impacts of spending millions or billions more on war make it truly impossible for the American people to enjoy any of the supposed security benefits that neoconservatives tout intervention could bring.

As the calls for yet another American intervention continue against the backdrop of the Gaza war, it’s up to Congress to do anything in its power to ensure that the US exercises restraint. Following the media and the Pentagon’s calls for intervention would be a short-sighted, misguided, and dangerous revenge policy. For the sake of Americans and innocent Yemenis, resist the urge to intervene.