Iran in Yemen and Syria — interesting times!


WHENEVER I gave a presentation about the Middle East during my higher studies (1994-1999) in US schools, I was often asked: Why all these troubles have been roiling the Middle East for so long? My usual answer would be: Perhaps, Allah knew how troublesome this region would be, that’s why He sent all prophets there!

That was then, when only three burning issues unsettled the region — Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Israel and Iran. Today, we are up against a plethora of conflicts. Apart from the seemingly unresolvable problems in Palestine, Iraq and Syria, Iran tops the world’s troublemakers with its involvement everywhere — from Yemen, Kurdistan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, to as far as Nigeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

Turkey is following suit (after a long period of zero interference) with an open war on the Kurds and the occupation of towns in northern Syria. Instead of siding with its Arab neighbors, the United States and the NATO, the Islamist government seems busy providing ways for Iran to escape sanctions. Qatar, meanwhile, is playing dangerous games with the usual culprits such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh (the so-called IS), Hezbollah, Taliban and Houthis.

These actions were tolerated when the Democrats were in power in the White House. However, there is a new sheriff in town, whom they are trying either to ignore, bribe or defy. None of their tricks, however, is working with a real American president who knows what is at stake and what to do about it.

What George W. Bush tried to achieve with super guns, Donald Trump has done it without a single bullet being fired. The United States is finally in the world’s driver seat. And it’s most welcome!

The Shiites in Iraq have decided to hand their Arab country back to Iran. After surprising results in the elections, which put maverick mullah Moqtada Al-Sadr on top, most Iraqis — Shiites included — and the rest of us, felt relieved. The man, who called for Iran to get out of Iraq, for its militias to be disarmed and for a total war on corruption and sectarianism, is now in bed with the same parties he deemed sectarian, Iranian and corrupt! What a loss!

The only good news in the region is coming from Yemen. After two years of secret preparation, Yemeni resistance, supported by the Emiratis and Arab Alliance, are taking back the Tahama coast on the Red Sea, town by town, till reaching Hodeidah. This is the second largest Yemeni port, which receives 70 percent of international aid, in addition to smuggled missiles and military experts from Iran and Hezbollah.

The commercial city of 600,000 inhabitants is the coup government’s main source of income and supplies. The Houthis double tax every container, squeeze every merchant, and take away all aid shipments to sell in the black market, provide for their troops and exchange goods for tribal loyalties.

The town is also a launching pad of missiles and boats threatening 10 percent of world’s shipping in the Red Sea. They have always used it as their strongest bargaining chip to blackmail the international community with great success!

Therefore, Hodeidah, more than the capital Sanaa, is the Iranian militias’ crown jewel. Losing it and its region of 2.5 million inhabitants and the 300-km coast is the surest phase to losing the game. With total air, land and now sea blockade, the Houthis have become landlocked in the mountainous heartland.

Some might see this is as similar situation to that of Taliban. But even Taliban is not so besieged, with neighboring Iran providing support and open lines to Iraq, the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere. In addition, neighboring Pakistan is not an enemy.

The Houthis, in comparison, are doomed to be tightly encircled by the government and Arab Coalition forces. Sooner or later, they would run out of ammunition and fighters. Iran, Qatar and company would be totally cut off. Their options would be limited to total surrender or gradual disintegration and demise.

The sooner they realize this, the better chances they’d have to cut their loses and return to the Yemeni scene as a political party, representing their region in parliament, and running its municipal affairs. And, if they cut their links to foreign enemies, and show themselves worthy, they might even gain some seats in the new government.

The game is almost over in Yemen and Syria, for Iran and Qatar. The allied terrorists are defeated, the Iranian militias and forces are under constant attacks. Their “Super Ally,” Russia, is cooperating with Israel against them. Both nations, together with the US, Britain and France, are telling them to leave at once or else!

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are joining the international alliance in eastern Syria to bring back peace and stability. You must be deaf, blind and stupid to miss such clear and loud signals. Get out Iran, now... before it is too late!

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter:@Kbatarfi