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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Saudis Attack

Saudi Arabia just joined the battle in Yemen between the Shiite Houthi forces and the mostly Sunni government forces.  Saudi planes are bombing sites across Yemen in an effort to drive back the Houthis.  We do not yet know if Saudi troops will also be deployed in Yemen, but that is quite likely.

This is a major development which requires a skillful American response.  If we do nothing, just consider the likely possibilities.

1.  The Houthis are strongly supported by Iran.  If the Saudis continue their attacks on the Houthis, there will likely be an Iranian response against Saudi Arabia.  That Iranian attack on the Saudis could come in the form of a direct attack by Iranian forces, but a more likely response will be some attacks by Shiite rebels in Saudi Arabia which will be stirred up by Iran.

2.  With the Saudis fighting the Houthis, they are on the same side as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (or AQAP).  Those terrorists have also been fighting the Yemeni government, but they will surely redirect their focus on the Houthis now.  Anything which draws the Saudis closer to the al Qaeda terrorists is not a good thing.

3.  The entry of the Saudis into the fighting is likely to bring other countries into the battle as well.  The likelihood that others get involved grows even stronger if the Iranians respond against the Saudis.  It will not take much for the UAE, Kuwait and Oman to join the fight.  We could easily see a regional war between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

Now let's think for a moment what such a regional war would mean for the world.  Right now, even though the world is awash in oil, the production of the Saudis and the other countries in the region is still of critical importance.  Any regional war will almost certainly reduce world oil production in a drastic fashion.  Oil could easily and quickly go from $40 per barrel back to $140 per barrel.  That price rise would mean an instant worldwide recession.  It would also mean that Russia with its large oil production would be placed in a position to blackmail much of Europe once again.  All sorts of economic and political disasters would follow.  And, of course, there would be much death and carnage across the Middle East.

It's worth noting that in the last 24 hours, as the situation in Yemen has moved from disaster to mega-disaster to essentially hopeless, the Obama White House has repeated the president's claim of about five months ago that Yemen is a success story for American anti-terrorist policies.  The truth is that Obama is not only clueless, but also completely delusional.


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