Monday, September 30, 2019

Meanwhile In The Middle East ...

No, I'm not about to turn this into a foreign policy blog. However, I will state that Trump needs to seriously take control of Middle East policy and to seriously rethink it. The policy of supporting al Qaeda and ISIL is morally and strategically bankrupt--as is the policy of  offering seemingly unquestioning protection to the financier of these groups, Saudi Arabia.

Consider the latest Houthi/Yemeni victory over the Saudis. It was an extremely impressive victory and the Saudis appear to be agreeing to a ceasefire--they can hardly do otherwise. The US used to support the Houthis against al Qaeda, until some genius (in fairness, during the Obama admin) decided supporting al Qaeda and the Saudis was a good idea. Two blogs. I can't vouch for the accuracy of either, except that it now appears to be well established that the Saudis have suffered a crushing defeat (as I have long predicted would happen):

"Nasr min Allah! Nasr min Allah!" (a victory from God Almighty) Somebody show this to Trump!
Three Saudi Brigades Annihilated in Devastating Houthi Offensive in Saudi Arabia

If the attack on Saudi oil facilities had such an impact, then the even more dramatic attack of this last Saturday will have forced Mohammed bin Salman and his American allies to face a very harsh reality. Saudi Arabia, it will now need to be recognized, does not have the capacity to defend its borders from Yemen, leaving the Houthis and the Yemeni army free to enter Saudi territory at will while showing little regard for the opinion and feelings of the Saudis and Americans. 
This is a triple checkmate for the Houthis against Riyadh. Firstly, they showed that they had enough local support within Saudi Arabia to have ready internal saboteurs in the event of an all-out war with Iran or Yemen. Then they showed they have the capacity to cripple Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Ultimately, Yemen’s conventional forces could redraw the boundaries between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the latter’s favor should Yemeni leaders decide to invade and occupy a strip of Saudi territory to secure a buffer zone, given that Saudi forces have been violating Yemen’s sovereignty and massacring civilians willy nilly for the last five years. 
It bears reflecting on the significance of these events. The third-biggest arms spender in the world is incapable of defeating the poorest Arab country in the world. It is, moreover, incapable of protecting its national interest and borders from this impoverished Arab country. The Houthis are showing to the world what a poor but organized and motivated armed force can do using asymmetrical methods to bring one of the best-equipped militaries in the world to its knees. This conflict will be studied all over the world as an example of how a new means of warfare is possible when technological and cyber capabilities are democratized and available to those who know how to use them appropriately, as the Houthis have shown with their use of drones and electronic warfare.

Trump wasn't elected to simply carry on Neocon strategy by the same means, or even by other means. Pompeo needs to go. Trump needs to decide where America's interests lie and how they are best served. This happening at a critical juncture in US politics hardly seems helpful.

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