mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Fragmentation
South Yemeni Political Leaders Launch Secession Council
Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • KremlinKryptonite

    There won’t be any peace in Yemen anytime soon. Iran relies on sectarian violence even more than others in the region. Iran has lacked the traditional tools of a state to influence outcomes due to isolation and sanctions. They’ve had to partner with non-state actors and terror groups, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al-Abdali Cell in Kuwait, and the Houthis in Yemen.

    To build relationships with these non-state actors and impact their behavior, Iran has relied on sectarianism as a tool. So, it is no coincidence that all these militias are affiliated with Shia Islam.
    For these non-state actors to be effective recruiters and mobilized, there must be a heightened sense of sectarian identity, which they can achieve through sectarian conflict.

    • Jon Robbins

      The Houthis have been in a state of intermittent revolt against Hadi’s pseudo-government and Ali Abdullah Salih before that. Iran has never been close to the Houthis who are Zayidis, not Twelvers like the majority of Shia. Saudi paranoia is at the heart of the Yemen problem as is the basic fractiousness of Yemen. The Saudis and the Emiratis have essentially incorporated elements of AQAP in their anti-Houthi war. We claim to be fighting terrorists in Yemen, but like the rest of our interventions in the region–Iraq, Libya, Syria, it’s just one more disaster wherein we have subordinated the struggle against jihadism to our insane obsession with Iran.

      • Anthony

        Welcome Back!

      • KremlinKryptonite

        Iranian policy reduces the nation-states of the Arab world into sects, Sunnis and Shia. Only “being sects” can allow Iran to wield a considerable influence in each Arab state’s internal politics, thus influencing their foreign policy. And certain Western governments have become, unconsciously, active agents in the service of Iranian expansionism. For the Arab world, Western reducing and debasing of Arab states into mere Sunni sects is viewed as another Sykes-Picot.

        • Unelected Leader

          It’s not just that Iran is a theocratic autocracy and continues to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. But these groups include Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups as you mention, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Sure, but you have to remember that for centuries the minority Shia (both Persian and Arab Shia) weren’t much a threat to Sunnis. It started to change in 1979 of course with the aggressive Islamist Shia regime in Tehran.
            In 2004, King Abdullah of Jordan spoke for many when he warned of a “Shia crescent” sprawling across the Middle East, from Bahrain to Iran to Iraq through the Alawite Assad regime in Syria and into Hezbollah-friendly districts of Lebanon.
            Tehran is on the eastern side of this swath, but it’s the political center. Abdullah’s fear was that a Shia crescent would inevitably become an Iranian empire, and these nonstate actors and terror groups are perfect tools.

          • tellourstory

            *Sigh* Is there any solution to this madness?

            Also, what are the chances of Israel doing something about this situation considering that Iran threatens to blow them up all the time? Furthermore, do you think the Arab states would help them out with this? I get that they have the same enemy, but none of them really like Israel and have wanted it to cease to exist for sometime. I’ve read that recently they are warming to Israel a little bit, away from the public eye of course, but I have no idea if that will hold after decades of prejudice.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Last summer, Prince Turki bin Faisal, former Saudi intelligence head, unprecedentedly attended a rally for the notorious Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) and called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This important event was followed on July 30 by a meeting between the head of the MEK, Maryam Rajavi, and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Paris.
            Earlier before, in late March last year, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), which has not taken up arms against Iran for roughly twenty years, suddenly waged a vicious insurgency against Tehran, leading to bloody skirmishes.

            Israel’s primary goal is, of course, to avoid ever seeing an atomic ayatollah. I’d expect them to keep watching – carefully – at the Arab Coalition’s progress in Yemen. After all, the likely long-term success of the coalition doesn’t undercut the security concerns for Saudi as Houthi militias fire rockets into and attack Saudi villages.

            Any overt Israeli action working with the Arab coalition has to be weighed so carefully because that is dumping kerosene on the sectarian bonfire. The people are tribal, and generally an Arab puts ethnicity over religion. Saddam knew this. How else could a secular Sunni dictator get all those Arab Shia to fight Persian Shia in the Iran-Iraq War.

          • Jon Robbins

            Iran has a much more promising base for republican and quasi-democratic rule than our great friend Saudi Arabia. After all, Khamenei was actually surprised when Khatami was elected in 1997. The only surprise in Saudi is what fat old keplocrat will be chosen behind closed doors by the royal family. And yet we have no problem supporting those retrograde goons.

        • Jon Robbins

          Iran has no intention of trying to “wield influence in each Arab state’s internal politics.” It certainly has aspirations to a certain degree of regional leadership (though it could never be the regional hegemon and will certainly have to accommodate Turkish ambitions as well.

          It’s true that the Iranian revolution, generated by our installation of the corrupt Shah in 1953, ushered in a brief period of Khomeiniism, but that was temporary, and Iranian policy more and more has become that of a conventional regional power (albeit one concerned to protect historically oppressed Shia minorities in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and (to a less extent) Lebanon. The real impetus for the Sunni-Shia split has been our interventionist policy which has generated bloody civil wars first in Iraq and then in Syria.

          The problem is that Israel and its lobby demand a Middle East made safe for Israeli hegemonic dominance. Iran (and increasingly Turkey as well) is the principal obstacle to that dominance, so we get endless pro-Israel whining about Iran.

          Our Israel-induced Middle East policy means that Russia and China, instead of the US, will work with Turkey and Iran to set the agenda for the region long-term. The self-destructiveness of our policy is incredible and historically without precedent.

          • Unelected Leader

            The Shah was there before and after 1953. And Israel is no hegemon. Everyone knows Saudi Arabia or Iran will always be the hegemon.

          • Jon Robbins

            Israel can’t be the hegemon except in a military sense but it entertains endless ambitions (if only the all the states hostile to its grandiose plans can be dismantled by US intervention and Sunni-Shia infighting.)

            Saudi Arabia has oil power, but is much too fragile to do anything but create havoc wherever its perceives threats (which is almost everywhere.)

            Iran, as I said, given its non-Arab and Shia character and its size–large but not big enough to be overwhelming–cannot aspire to true hegemony, especially given Turkey’s capacity for and inclination towards regional leadership.

            The real issue will be whether Turkey and Iran can cooperate with as assistance of outside powers playing a constructive role (a role we have forsworn in our role as Golem for Israel.)

            PS The Shah would have spent the rest of his life in Italy if we had not forcibly put him back on the throne.

          • Unelected Leader

            Yet here Iran is fueling sectarian hostility just as well. And I think you probably read your history of the Shah and Mossadegh from Think Progress or some other subpar source. You left out some very important bits, and I hope it’s because you don’t know any better.

            Mossadegh was chosen by the Shah to be PM! He was then confirmed by the Majles. The office of PM was not democratically chosen by any sort of popular vote. Mossadegh even suspended an election fearing that his party would not maintain control. He had become unpopular very quickly because of the sanctions imposed by the British and the oil crisis.

          • D4x

            Most do not realize that the Safavids in 1500 CE made a political decision to make Shi’a Islam the official state religion of the Persian Empire, in order to counter the Sunni Ottomans.
            Iran is still fighting the Sunnis. Islam has never resolved their first schism, over theocratic rule by a direct descendant of Muhammed, or a ‘just ‘temporal ruler.

            “Battle of Karbalāʾ, (October 10, 680 [10th of Muharram, ah61]), brief military engagement in which a small party led by al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and son of ʿAlī, the fourth caliph, was defeated and massacred by an army sent by the Umayyad caliph Yazīd I. The battle helped secure the position of the Umayyad dynasty, but among Shīʿite Muslims (followers of al-Ḥusayn) the 10th of Muharram (or ʿĀshūrāʾ) became an annual holy day of public mourning. …”

            https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Karbala

          • Jon Robbins

            No, I think you are the one leaving out key details.

            The Shah felt compelled to appoint Mossadegh because he was supported by a large majority in the Majlis. He was not happy about it. After Mossadegh nationalized AIOC and took control of Iranian oil, the British coordinated an international embargo against Iran (just as US oil companies did to Mexico when that country nationalized in the 30’s.)

            The conservatives around the Shah prevented an expansion of the rural franchise so that the election you are referring to was likely to be determined by the equivalent of “rotten boroughs.” His popularity was huge–much greater than anyone else’s–and had electoral reform not been blocked, he would certainly have won.

            Then the conservatives blocked emergency powers to deal with the consequences of the British embargo, destabilizing his government. This set the conditions for the US-UK coup.

            The bottom line is that we meddled in Iranian affairs because the British wanted to keep their revenue from Iran’s oil fields and we were petrified about Communism. We forcibly re-installed the Shah after he had fled (just as the British had forcibly installed him in 1941 when they deposed his father, Reza Shah.) We created SAVAK to keep him in power. And now we whine about the hostility that Iran has shown us since 1979. This is what happens when you meddle in the affairs of sovereign states–it comes back to bite you. Surprised you won’t acknowledge that basic truth.

            We have no one to blame but ourselves. And I guess you must be getting your knowledge of Iran from the Israeli Embassy.

          • Unelected Leader

            Oh lord LOL. You don’t even know who the Majles were. Mostly, they were military officers and the equivalent of lords/major land owners. The Shah was happy to appoint Mossadegh with his, at that time, high public support vs. the majority of the Majles who were essentially feudal lords.

            Mossadegh rapidly became unpopular during the oil crisis under the pressure of sanctions, and questioning of his abilities. I suppose that’s as good a time as any to suspend an election, as he did. Indeed, the US’s goal was to prevent the spread of communism, and to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. See NSC/136/1.

            Eisenhower reportedly even said in a NSC meeting that if he had $500,000,000 to spare, he would have preferred to give $100,000,000 to Iran so that the financial troubles brought on by British sanctions could be alleviated.

            The biggest misunderstanding of all is that only Westerners and specifically British royalists wanted Mossadegh to go away. It’s just factually incorrect. Mossadegh was not a democratically elected prime minister, suspended an election of the quasi democratic parliament, became rapidly unpopular, and critical allies turned against him.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service