Iran’s unapologetic self-determination, including its ballistic missile and nuclear energy program as well its resistance to economic imperialism, make it a constant thorn in Washington’s side
by Randi Nord
Part 3 - Syria as a breaking point and the curious case of Yemen
Syria has manifested as a breaking point for relations between Tehran and Washington.
The United States launched its proxy war against Syria for a variety of reasons, one of which included replacing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with an Israeli-friendly regime. As part of warming relations with Israel, Washington’s ideal Syrian government would cease relations with Iran and cut off cooperation with Hezbollah.
An email published by WikiLeaks reveals an exchange between Hillary Clinton and her aides which includes the subject line “an interesting proposal from Bruce Riedel re: how Israel could help get Assad out of office.”: “Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Israel’s secret intelligence service, Mossad, has rightly argued that toppling Assad and weakening Hizbullah is a far more important and strategic opportunity for Israel today than a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
Isolating Iran was always one of Washington’s primary objective in its war against Syria.
The email describes hypothetical negotiations that include Syria gaining full control of the Golan Heights on the condition Assad step down in favor of a government that recognizes Israel while ceasing support for Iran and Hezbollah.
That plan didn’t work out as hoped.
In fact, it drastically backfired: Syria has strengthened its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, and those entities are now battle-tested.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, and Iranian-backed militias played a crucial role in supporting the Syrian Arab Army against U.S.-backed proxies. Indeed, if it weren’t for Iran’s support, the Syrian landscape would look vastly different today.
Not only has Iran supported the Syrian Arab Army against U.S.-backed proxies, but its militias have dislodged and nearly eliminated ISIS and other terrorist groups throughout Syria and Iraq. Osman had this to say about Washington’s reaction to Iranian policy in the region: “Nowhere is Iran projecting its regional power more broadly than in Syria. … This only made Trump push for a further aggressive approach to try to contain Iran. I think what worries the Trump administration is that, with these gains, Iran and its allies will carve out what the U.S. calls a ‘Shia crescent’ extending from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is the most powerful political and military force. Such a viewpoint appears threatening not only for the Trump Administration, but also its allies in the Arab world, especially the KSA and the Israeli entity. According to the recent developments this past week, combined with Tillerson’s statement, it’s obvious that the next line of attack is going to be the northern border of Syria with Turkey.”
Syria and Lebanon are obvious hotspots, but Washington’s vilification of Iran through its purported support of rebel fighters in Yemen raise far more pressing questions.
No tangible evidence exists to prove Iran supplies Ansarullah (the Houthis) with weapons, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley recently asserted. Nonetheless, the United States recently labeled Ansarullah an “Iranian-backed militia” in nearly every media report (or simply a “Shiite militia” to imply Iranian influence).
The New York Times went so as far as to call Ansarullah an extension of Hezbollah: “The network Hezbollah helped build has changed conflicts across the region. In Syria, the militias have played a major role in propping up President Bashar al-Assad, an important Iranian ally. In Iraq, they are battling the Islamic State and promoting Iranian interests. In Yemen, they have taken over the capital city and dragged Saudi Arabia, an Iranian foe, into a costly quagmire. In Lebanon, they broadcast pro-Iranian news and build forces to fight Israel.”
The Times does not, however, explain Tehran’s ability to smuggle weapons into Yemen during a U.S.-enforced land, sea, and air blockade.
The United States knows it is operating in a bipolar world: a nation or group in the Middle East that doesn’t ally itself with the United States and Saudi Arabia will likely build relations with the opposing axis, which effectively means Iran, Syria, and now Qatar. Although Ansarullah began as a Zaydi-Shia movement, it has since morphed into a broad coalition consisting of Sunnis, Shias, as well as various local tribes and political parties that oppose U.S. imperialism, Zionism, and economic exploitation.
This prospect troubles the United States and Saudi Arabia. If a small Yemeni movement can resist and become self-determined, what’s to stop citizens in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and elsewhere from getting such ideas? The mere possibility that Ansarullah could ally with Iran is enough for the United States to allege the relationship already exists, and to carry out a devastating military response.
Over 35,000 civilians have been killed or wounded by Riyadh’s U.S.-backed military aggression and siege against Yemen, based on nothing more than the idea that they could possibly make their own choices.