The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are using civilian houses to launch anti-aircraft attacks against Saudi planes, said Saudi Gen. Ahmed bin Hasan Asiri, who said:
They’ve put anti-aircraft batteries over buildings, forcing us to bomb these areas, resulting in collateral damage.
Iran has denied it is backing the Houthis, a claim no one believes, and the use of civilian shields is a classic tactic used by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations.
Saudi Arabian warplanes bombed Houthi positions in Yemen for the fourth consecutive day Sunday while the Iranian-backed forces approached the Saudi border and threatened to carry out suicide bombings.
Pre-dawn strikes Sunday targeted an arms depot in the capital of Sanaa and a military airbase near the international airport.
Asiri announced that Saudi planes have destroyed most of the Houthis’ ground-to-ground ballistic missiles launching pads, but he added, “We cannot rule out that the Houthi militias resorted to keeping in stores a big amount of them.”
The aerial attack also is trying to keep the Houthi rebels from mobilizing near the Saudi border. Senior Houthi official Abdel Mon’em Al-Qurashi threatened that the rebels would destroy the Saudi regime for its “aggressive” policies.
“If Saudi Arabia continues its aggressions against the oppressed Yemeni people, [Houthi] fighters will pave the way for the Saudi regime’s destruction by conducting martyrdom-seeking operations inside Saudi Arabia in the coming hours,” Quraishi told Fars News Agency.
Yemen’s president, who has fled the country, said Saturday that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels must “surrender” as Arab League powers indicate they might agree to a joint force to back the Saudi attack on the rebels.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi spoke at an Arab League meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, and called for the “continuation of Operation Decisive Storm until this gang [the Houthis] announces its surrender, exits all occupied territories in the provinces, leaves state institutions and military camps.”
Iran may have been caught by surprise by the fierce Saudi response to the attempted takeover by the Shi’ite Muslims, and the continuing Saudi air strikes are an indication of a dramatic change in the Sunni Muslim kingdom since King Salman succeeded King Abdullah after his death earlier this year.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned Saudi Arabia against the consequences of a Saudi-led land invasion of Yemen and described the military attacks as “a strategic mistake.”
“Resorting to military acts against Yemen which is entangled in an internal crisis and fighting terrorism will further complicate the situation, spread the range of crisis and destroy opportunities to settle the internal differences in Yemen peacefully,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said.
Saudi Arabia evacuated dozens of diplomats from Aden and the United Nations evacuated more than 200 personnel from Sanaa on Saturday as the Saudi aerial offensive continued in its third day.
The Houthis are well-armed, are in control of the capital of Sanaa and have opened a new front on the Arabian Sea coast, 60 miles from the key port of Aden.
Many, but not all, Arab League foreign ministers have said they support a joint force, with Egypt and the Gulf States the most anxious sponsors.
Syria, an ally of Iran whose Hezbollah forces are fighting alongside the regime’s army, is an obvious dissident. Iraq also is hesitant to join the Saudi-led campaign.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has jabbed President Barack Obama with a stinging remark that although Israel and the United States are friends, fears of Iran and the ISIS have forged a “new partnership” of Israel and “many of our Arab neighbors.”
Netanyahu took the opportunity of being charged with the responsibility to form a new government to say:
We very much appreciate, and will take care to preserve, our alliance with the best of our friends, the United States; however, we will continue to work to prevent the agreement with Iran, an agreement that endangers us, our neighbors and the world. We see eye to eye with many of our Arab neighbors regarding the danger posed by Iran and we also view positively the benefit that this new partnership could have for the region.
The chaos in Yemen has once again embarrassed the Obama administration by exposing another colossal foreign policy failure that has made President Obama increasingly isolated in the region.
Obama and his foreign policy gurus still hold on to the delusion that if Israel simply would agree to surrender every inch of territory that was restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967, the sky would be filled with doves of peace, pooping on Jews, instead of rocks and rockets aimed at Jews.
The biggest problem with that policy, which to be fair has been fostered by every administration in the past 40 years thanks to the State Dept., is that the Arabs world couldn’t care less about the Palestinian Authority.
Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to be the messenger for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab League to force Israel into submission and prepare the way for a Muslim takeover over “Palestine.”
Instead, corruption, mismanagement and the failure to accept the word “compromise” have left the Palestinian Authority a sorry welfare state.
When it comes to keeping the Palestinian Authority alive, it is the European Union that has forked over most of the money while the oil-rich kingdoms pledge billions of dollars and end up giving a few shekels.
Abbas has become nothing but a depreciating tool for the Arab League to use to pay lip service to the masses that Jerusalem will be the capital of a Muslim country.
One big exception has been Qatar, but its money has gone to the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization, which has been boycotted by Egypt but endeared by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan.
Given events in Yemen, both Qatar and Erdoğan, must be fretting and sweating at the idea of Iran’s adding Yemen to its real estate portfolio, which includes a good slice of Lebanon and is trying to move in on Syria.
While the Obama administration and its media groupies try to prove themselves that Prime Minister Netanyahu is isolating Israel, it is the president who is finding himself increasingly alone.
Saudi Arabia was unhappy with Obama last year after he backed off his threat to directly fight the Assad regime, which has begun using chemical weapons against opposition forces.
Add the failures of the Obama administration in Libya, Afghanistan Iraq and now Yemen, and throw in growing signs that he will call a “bad deal” with Iran a “good deal,” and it is no wonder that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Muslim allies feel more comfortable with Israel than with Washington.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest left journalists scratching their heads Wednesday after refusing to deny that the chaos in Yemen means the country is not a model in President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy.
Jon Karl of ABC asked Earnest:
Now that we have essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model in counterterrorism strategy?
Keep in mind that the American-backed president of Yemen, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has fled the country while the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels control most of the Yemini military.
Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia has carried out aerial strikes against the Houthi rebels in what is looking like a proxy war between the Sunni Muslim world and Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim regime.
Keep in mind that the United States evacuated 125 Special Operation advisers last week because of the chaos in Yemen, Obama’s partner in the war on terror, especially Al Qaeda.
Keep in mind that the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility last week for bombing Shi’ite mosques in Yemen.
Keep all that in mind, because President Obama and his apologist Earnest are not keeping it in mind.
Here is Earnest’s reply to Karl’s question Wednesday:
The White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground take the fight to extremists in their own country….
There are no longer U.S. officials in Yemen because it’s become a — because the security situation there has deteriorated.
But he is not listening to himself, and President Obama once again passes Foreign Policy Theory 101 while failing Foreign Policy On the Ground 101.
The central government that Obama’s strategy built up in Yemen does not exist, but the Obama administration is holding on for dear life, such as it is in Yemen.
Earnest insisted, “We do continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustained counterterrorism security relationship with the security infrastructure that remains in Yemen.”
Security infrastructure? Much of the military is siding with the Houthi rebels, the American advisers have fled, and Earnest is talking about the “security infrastructure.”
Here is the clip from the White House Press Briefing.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he supports Saudi Arabia’s attack on Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen
Saudi Arabia has been joined by other oil-rich states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the Gulf States, all of whom said that “they “have decided to answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the Huthi militia.”
Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan also “expressed desire to participate in the operation,” according to the official Saudi news agency. Egypt said it is ready to provide air and naval power and even foot soldiers, if necessary.
Abbas’ statement lines him up with the ruling Sunni Muslims who fear a Shi’ite Muslim takeover in Yemen will strengthen Iran’s aim at ruling the Middle East.
Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled his palace in the capital city of Aden shortly after the Shi’ite Houthi rebels television station claimed they had taken control of an air base that served U.S. and European troops, Al Jazeera reported. Witnesses described a convoy of presidential vehicles leaving Hadi’s palace. As he was fleeing, Hadi asked the UN to authorize a foreign military intervention in the country.
Sunni countries in the Gulf have been accusing Iran of interference through several Shi’ite proxies in the region—including Israel’s neighbor Hezbollah. Iran has supplied weapons, money and training to the Shi’ite Houthi militia, as Tehran steps up its regional power struggle with Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported, citing Yemeni and Iranian officials say.
And then something new happened last night. Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab countries from the region launched operation “Firmness Storm” in Yemen against the Houthi.
Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubair said on Wednesday that a coalition of 10 regional states, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, had begun airstrikes against the rebels at 7 PM Eastern time.
“The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country,” al-Jubair told reporters.
Al-Jubeir said the U.S. is not involved in the airstrikes. But CNN military analyst Lt. Col. Rick Francona, a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, said the U.S. probably provides the intelligence.
“The Saudis don’t have the intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capability,” he said. “They needed help and it probably come from us.”
An Egyptian official told AFP that Egypt also plans to participate in the Yemen offensive.
The Saudis have announced that Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan have “expressed desire to participate in the operation,” Saudi SPA state news agency said.
According to SPA, last week, commenting on the nuclear talks with Iran, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told reporters “the United States will adhere to the negotiations with Iran and will prevent an Iranian development of atomic bomb, but this will not mean we will take our eyes off” the “tendencies of Iran in the region, which is one of the most leading elements of implanting instability in the region.”
Al-Faisal pointed out Iranian intervention in “Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq,” and possibly in other regions. He stressed that these practices must be halted should Iran wanted to be part of the solution in the region, not part of the problem.
This might be a good time to mention Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much maligned, March 3 speech before Congress, when he warned, among other things:
“Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.”
Both Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, have been removed from the National Intelligence list of terrorism threats – the most authoritative document produced by the National Intelligence Agency.
Fox News‘ On The Record with Greta Susteren reported late Tuesday on information found in the unclassified version of the report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities 2015 (PDF), dated February 26, 2015. An annual report, this one was delivered recently to the U.S. Senate by National Intelligence Director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James Clapper.
The document noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Also noted was the fact that “Iranian leaders – particularly within the security services – are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran… Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses…”
The intelligence report added that Tehran’s “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige and regional influence” have led it to “pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”
Whether or not Iran would choose to do so it still not clear, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment. However, if the Iranian government decides to go ahead, there exist no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon,” American intelligence experts concluded, most likely to be delivered via intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News journalist Greta Susteren that he believes the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist list was not a simple “format change” as reporters were told at a briefing, but rather a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to deceive the American public.
“What we’re having now is an Orwellian example of disappearing references to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the terrorism report,” Bolton said, during an exchange with Susteren on Fox. “This was a concession, I think, by the administration relating to the nuclear negotiation. You will not find it in the signed deal.
“How many other concessions has the administration made that are not in the deal — that may not even be related to the nuclear program — in this desperate effort to get a deal?”
Meanwhile, Iran is moving to widen its sphere of influence in South America, where its diplomatic ties are already strong with Argentina and even warmer with Venezuela, which has the largest reserves of uranium in the Western hemisphere, outside of Canada.
Photos that flashed across Fox News during a report by Susteren showed a heavily guarded facility that was set up in Bolivia in 2011, allegedly with Iranian backing.
“There are elements of that facility which is supposed to be some type of military academy,” Susteren reported, “but is very heavily fortified. And the suspicion is that it’s being used by Iran as a way to have a footprint in Bolivia” which she described as “not a friend of the United States.”
Despite the disappearance of Iran from the terror map in the 2015 National Intelligence assessment, Fox journalist Cathern Herridge also noted that “the documents, the photos and Congressional testimony show that Iran is really effectively expanding its influence into South America, into our neighbor.”
In effect, Herridge said, Iran is “creating a launching pad into North America.”
Bolton concurred in his own remarks. “Look, Iran has terrorist networks all over this hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Remember, three years ago, the Justice Department indicted senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards Corps for conspiring to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington by infiltrating through the Mexican border.
“I think this is just another example of Iran’s activities.”