Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State of Iran are locked in a proxy war in Yemen, and there can be no doubt where America’s interests lie. While United Nations officials and even the State Department have deplored the civilian casualties and have urged the Saudi-backed coalition to open up ports for humanitarian supplies, the real focus must remain on Iran’s unprovoked and cynical aggression. Yemen shares the Arabian peninsula with the Saudi Kingdom, just as the United States shares North America with Canada and Mexico. Imagine for an instant if a hostile regional power were to stir up a civil war in Mexico or Canada, with the ultimate aim of destabilizing the U.S.? Saudi Arabia has long considered Yemen to be a strategic vulnerability, a backdoor for troublemakers seeking to overturn the Saudi monarchy or bleed its resources. Consider it the Saudi Kingdom’s “Monroe doctrine,” if you will.
The recent Saudi effort to tip the political balance, by enticing deposed former president Ali Abdallah Saleh to abandon his Houthi allies, came to a brutal end when a Houthi patrol ambushed Saleh’s convoy south of the capital, Sanaa, on December 5, and murdered him in cold blood. Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, vowed publicly to “lead the battle until the last Houthi is thrown out of Yemen, … The blood of my father will be hell ringing in the ears of Iran.” Ambassador Nikki Haley took the unusual step earlier this month of putting on display a missile fired by Houthi rebels at the Riyadh international airport, revealing the telltale signs of its Iranian origin. “Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK, or the airports in Paris, London, or Berlin,” she said. “That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what Iran is actively supporting.” The Islamic State of Iran Crime Research Center, a U.S.-based nonprofit that tracks Iranian regime officials who allegedly have committed “war crimes” and human rights abuses, recently identified three of the top Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officers who have been dispatched to train and command the Houthi rebels. “Colonel Reza Yassini, Commander Ali Rajabi and Revolutionary Guards Major Mohammad Niazi are acting as military experts and are currently in Yemen,” the group said. “Also, as of early to mid 2017, a team of ammunition makers from the Ministry of Defense, headed up by one Bahram Rahnama, have been dispatched to Yemen, in order to assist in building arms and ammunition.”
The group also has identified Iranian engineer, Abdel-Salam al-Zeidi, as “the brains” behind one class of rockets, the Qadr 110, currently being used by the Houthis. Just days before Christmas, the White House unveiled an executive order that would place new restrictions on “persons involved in serious human rights abuse or corruption.” While focused primarily on Russia and the Sudan, the White House and Treasury should use these authorities to target Iranian officials aiding the Houthi rebels in Yemen as well. The Iranian regime has its tentacles in every conflict in the region. Under the guise of fighting ISIS, they now effectively control Iraq, including America’s erstwhile ally in Iraqi Kurdistan. They have established a “land-bridge” from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Israel’s northern borders, allowing them for the first time to move militiamen and weapons by road into Lebanon. If the United States it to get really serious about Iran, we need to hit them in their soft underbelly at home, where they suffer from an ongoing freedom deficit. In recent days, anti-regime protests have spread from city to city inside Iran. Their intensity and political nature has clearly taken the regime by surprise. On Saturday morning, regime security officials reportedly issued orders to crush the protests, according to Mansour Osanlou, the former head of the Tehran bus drivers union. In a telephone interview, Osanlou called the protests “a new revolution, with working class people and poor people joining forces with students and teachers unions, calling for an end to the Islamic Republic regime.”
Security forces in Tehran used rubber bullets and water cannon with scalding water in attempts — so far, unsuccessful — to disperse protesters at Tehran University, he said. “We thank President Trump for his support, and call on the United States to hold the Islamic regime accountable if they kill or beat protestors or conduct mass arrests, as they did in 2009,” he told me. The last time the Iranian people rose up, in June 2009, President Obama kept silent and allowed the regime to kill protesters in silence. President Trump has the opportunity to change history by using his bully pulpit, not U.S. troops. He needs to instruct the Voice of America and the Persian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, to actively support the protests. Until now, Osanloo tells me, he has been “boycotted” by both. Want to solve the war in Yemen? Here’s how: Help the embattled people of Iran win their freedom from Islamic tyranny at home by instructing the Voice of America and Radio Farda to get off the dime. After all, that’s why taxpayers are spending close to $800 million per year on U.S. government broadcasting. Let’s put that money to use in support of freedom and America’s national interest. Kenneth R. Timmerman was the 2012 Republican Congressional nominee for MD-8 and is the author of Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary & Obama Blamed for Benghazi