Editorial: Tehran’s unabated meddling in Yemen

Updated 02 October 2015
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Editorial: Tehran’s unabated meddling in Yemen

Iran's intemperate attack on the Kingdom over the organization of the Haj and the Mina tragedy is in reality a cynical effort to open yet another front in its meddling in the region. The agony of Syria owes much to Tehran’s interference. Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorists are bought and paid for the Iranians. They were thrown into the fight to protect Bashar Assad, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In Iraq, Iranian intervention has been catastrophic for the country. By exploiting pliant Shiite politicians Tehran has sought to ensure that it will not have a strong and united Arab neighbor. The decade of misgovernment by ousted Premier Nuri Al-Maliki could not have done more to further this devious policy. Iraq is divided and in political and military ruins. The leaders in Tehran are rejoicing.
The Houthi rebellion in Yemen is yet further evidence of the Iranians’ clear intention to destabilize the region. Tehran has been frustrated by the firm response of the Kingdom at the head of a coalition of fellow Gulf countries. Since it was launched in March, Operation Decisive Storm has checked the revolt. It has wrested Yemen’s port city Aden from the Houthis, who are now being driven back toward the capital Sanaa. The country’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is in Aden leading the fight-back against the Houthis and their Iranian masters.
Yet even as the rebels’ cause collapses, Tehran is redoubling its efforts to sow mayhem. It is making desperate attempts to bolster the Houthi and the discredited former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has placed himself at their head. On the third day of the Eid coalition forces intercepted a vessel off the coast of Salalah in southern Oman. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri, from the Ministry of Defense, revealed that it was carrying a huge shipment of arms. The weapons were meant to be smuggled into Yemen. The boat was reportedly manned by 14 Iranians and carried several documents indicating it was owned by an Iranian national.
This is by no means the first such seizure. The Iranians have been caught sending rockets, RPGs, ground-to-air missiles, explosives and even armored vehicles to the Houthis. The iniquity is that the rebels are still being urged on by the Iranians, even though the revolt is clearly doomed. Tehran is brazenly prepared to fight this conflict down to the last Houthi terrorists.
What matters, of course, is that the Iranians have lit yet another fire in the Arab world. If they care about the destruction of life and property in a country that already faced severe economic challenges, it is only in celebration. Tehran’s planners of havoc have been frustrated in their attempts to sow dissent and disorder in Bahrain. Yemen appeared to be the vulnerable backdoor to the Arabian Peninsula. It is a door that the Saudi-led coalition is firmly slamming shut.
The calamity is that Washington, though fully supportive of Operation Decisive Storm, refuses to recognize the insidious Iranian threat to the region’s stability. The nuclear deal with Iran has mesmerized the Obama administration. Yet the removal of sanctions will empower the Iranians to continue their deadly campaign of mischief-making
Obama has been suckered by the acceptable, civilized face of the Iranian regime. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif led the negotiating team that finally hammered out the nuclear deal. It was an easy matter for Obama to shake Zarif’s hand when their parties bumped into each other at the United Nations in New York this week. Obama was no doubt glad to exchange the greeting with a man who had given him what he regards as his main foreign policy success.
Yet that handshake caused an absolute furor back in Tehran. Hard-line mullahs who still characterize the US as “the Great Satan” were outraged. There appears to be a real prospect that Zarif will be fired.
Obama and his people take a quick lesson from this alarming reaction. They should immediately think again about the nuclear deal and the easing of sanctions. A regime that can regard the civilized greeting of a handshake as a scandal, is clearly not itself civilized. It cannot be trusted to behave in a reasonable and moderate fashion. If Iran’s dangerous meddling in the Arab world has not been enough to convince Washington of its political dementia, the furious protest at that handshake ought to clinch it.