Yemen: The Wall Street Journal hysteria against the Houthis

The pages of the famous newspaper now serve as public relations for the Saudis.

Source: Responsible Statecraft, Jim Lobe
Translated by the readers of the Les-Crises website

Image: chrisdorney via

Who would have thought that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the developing world’s largest importer of sophisticated weapons for a generation and more, was so fragile?

Apparently, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal thinks so. Last week, he published a fearmongering op-ed relaying urgent pleas for help from the Saudis “who are running out of ammunition to defend themselves against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen and are calling on America for help.” »

As if the Houthis, also known as the Ansarallah, were raining down drones and missiles all over Saudi territory, the paper claimed that the “more than 70,000 Americans in the Kingdom…could become casualties” and, by a curious linguistic choice, suggested that the threat represented by the Houthis against the most hyper-armed state in the Middle East could be “existential. »

As if that weren’t enough, the Journal published a longer and arguably more alarmist op-ed written by its former publisher and managing editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Karen Elliott House. “The threat to Saudi Arabia is real,” she said. The Journal reports that the Houthis have carried out 375 cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia this year. On Monday, Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over the capital. In March, the Houthis unsuccessfully attacked a major Saudi oil port. A sophisticated attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in September 2019 forced a brief suspension of Saudi oil production. »

House fails to note that most experts believe the latest attack was carried out from Iraqi or Iranian territory, despite claims by the Houthis that they carried it out. But then his op-ed [page d’opinion venant en contradiction de celle de l’éditorial, NdT] fails to mention a remarkable number of relevant facts and contexts.

It omits any mention of Saudi Arabia’s cross-border bombings that have continued since Riyadh intervened in Yemen nearly seven years ago – 23,000 in total between March 2015 and September this year, an average of ten per year. day – according to a report by UN experts which concluded that these strikes killed or injured at least 18,000 Yemeni civilians.

House also did not mention the total toll of the war, which is well over 350,000 dead. An estimated 70 per cent of them are children under the age of five who have died primarily from starvation and preventable diseases, largely due to the destruction of sanitation facilities and other basic civilian infrastructure by the Saudi bombing campaign and blockade of Houthi-controlled territory in what the UN humanitarian agency called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” »

Nor was there any mention of the kingdom’s use of ‘incitements and threats’ – including the threat to deny citizens of predominantly Muslim members of the UN Human Rights Council permission to carry out the haj pilgrimage to Mecca – part of a successful lobbying campaign to prevent a United Nations investigation into war crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen earlier this fall.

The reader obviously doesn’t need to know the details of that background, according to House, who wonders why, oh but why, is Biden ignoring the Saudi “pleas” begging for Patriots (anti-missile missiles, NdT). “One of the theories put forward by Saudi Arabia is that it intends to punish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, together with his progressive allies, for his alleged role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.” , she believes, fears that progressive Democrats will oppose his Build Back Better bill [Le texte prévoit de nombreuses réformes en matière de santé, d’éducation et d’écologie ainsi que des investissements pour lutter contre la fraude fiscale, NdT] if he sends the Patriots there. It is quite logical.

But Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudis are doing wonderful things that make them worthy of hosting the Patriots, she insists. A country that banned movie theaters until 2018 is now hosting Justin Bieber worries [ référence à un grand concert de Justin Bieber le 2 décembre 2021 devant une salle comble, à Djeddah, NdT], hosts Formula 1 races, international golf tournaments and women’s sports teams. »

” […] To continue on this path of modernization, the kingdom needs stability. Efforts to build a genuine tourism industry along the Red Sea, for example, will not succeed if Saudi territory is under constant threat of attack. Worse, failing to provide the kingdom with the aid it says it needs, she concludes, is “encouraging Iran to intensify its decades-long efforts to, among other things, claim the most sacred sites in the world.” Islam and Arabian Oil. »

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Unlike House, the Journal editorial acknowledges, albeit summarily, that the Saudis have not behaved well in Yemen. “The Saudis are not always friendly friends, and they waged the war in Yemen often brutally, though less so with the help of American trainers during the Trump years,” the latter claim being somewhat debatable. “But,” the Journal adds somewhat mysteriously, “when it comes to the Saudis and their neighborhood, the military choices can be existential,” apparently implying that, had the Saudis not acted with brutality, the Houthis could have somehow destroyed the Saudi state, another questionable claim.

It is not that the Houthis are angels and, as UN experts and international human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demonstrated, they must be held to account, including for their missile and drone attacks on civilian sites in Saudi Arabia. It is also not wrong to say that Iran provided them with material support and advice, although many experts agree that the amount of this aid, as well as the influence Tehran could enjoy to the Houthis, have been grossly exaggerated both by the Saudis, their coalition partners (mainly the UAE) and their highly paid representatives in Washington.

But the fact is that it was the Saudis who intervened in what had become a civil war in Yemen and who bear the major responsibility for much of the physical and human destruction, direct and indirect, that the poorest country the Arab world has undergone over the past seven years, let’s leave Justin Bieber’s concerts aside. (Saudi civilian casualties, regrettable as they are, have been miniscule, virtually infinitesimal by comparison, international golf tournaments aside).

If the Journal and the House of Representatives want to protect poor Saudis, whose military budget this year amounted to a paltry $50 billion – roughly twice Yemen’s total gross domestic product in 2021 – from Houthis, the most obvious and quickest solution would be for Riyadh to lift the blockade and stop the bombardments, these are the two conditions set by the Houthis to end their operations against targets in Saudi Arabia. It would also be the most cost-effective way: bombing is very expensive, and Patriot missiles cost over $3 million apiece. The cost-effectiveness should appeal to Journal readers.

Finally, what would a convincing Wall Street Journal editorial on the Arab world be if we did not quote Bernard Lewis: “the late great expert on the Middle East [qui] once pointed out to us that while it is dangerous to be America’s enemy, to be its enemy can prove fatal” – the remark underlining that the Biden administration would have been a disloyal friend to Arabia Saudi by not supplying the Patriots? It was the same Bernard Lewis who introduced Ahmad Chalabi, the greatest crook of the 21st century, to both the Journal’s editorial board and to Dick Cheney, and who convinced them that American troops would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators. . It was also the same Bernard Lewis who warned on the Journal’s op-ed page that Iran would attempt to bring about “the apocalyptic destruction of Israel and if necessary the end of the world” on August 22, 2006.

Yet despite this, people still ask why the Journal doesn’t have a humor column.

Source: Responsible Statecraft, Jim Lobe, 13-12-2021
Translated by the readers of the Les-Crises website

1642399744 457 Yemen The Wall Street Journal hysteria against the Houthis

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Yemen: The Wall Street Journal hysteria against the Houthis