I’m a bit perplexed at recent reports that the US will be providing intelligence and logistical support to a coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia. The rebels in Yemen are of the more ‘moderate’ (and I do use the term ‘moderate’ loosely in this context, as I’d likely be stoned by one side as much as by the other, in these orthodox countries) Shia variety, to the Saudi’s Sunni. In the past few weeks, I’ve increasingly come to the conclusion the conflict in the Middle East is really a theological civil war between Sunnis and Shia.
What perplexes me, however, is that the US is allying itself with the very branch that spawned Al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL. It’s no secret that there is some illicit link between the Sunni militant groups and the Saudi leadership, which in and of itself subscribes to Wahhabism, a fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam.
Shouldn’t the US be staying out of the Yemeni domestic conflict and shouldn’t the US be hoping that the Houthi Shia rebels win? There’s a good chance that the third party in the Yemeni conflict, an off-shoot of Al-Qaeda, likely has some ties to ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, at least to some in his party.
I suppose the US has to, on paper, support the Saudis, as the Saudis sort of own them, at least in OPEC terms. However, relations between the two are not so tight, given the purported slight to Obama when he was left hanging when trying to shake hands with some Saudi dignitary, and then the new King Salman turned around and left with his entourage, leaving the President of the United States awkwardly standing with his wife, trying to figure out what to do next while saving face.
It seems that Yemen is becoming a pit fight between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.