With open appetite, the American House of Representatives voted on a package of decisions and amendments amounting to three hundred under the dome of the US Congress, among which a simple majority suggested an amendment decision that would prevent the Kingdom from providing military logistical services and American weapons under the pretext of the war in Yemen. Subsequently, it will be presented to the Senate for a vote.
But the story has other sides. US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan flew to NEOM and met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After the meeting, a clear confirmation of the US commitment was issued to provide the means to defend the Kingdom, explicitly against ballistic missiles and Iranian Houthi drones.
The US government does not want, in these complex regional and international circumstances, to send a wrong message as a result of the Congress’ vote and its requirements.
On the ground, there have been no military air operations for more than a year, in addition to the restriction on Saudi military capabilities, which will lead to a move to European and eastern markets, as the withdrawal of Patriot batteries from the region, including Saudi Arabia, led to bringing their counterparts from Greece.
And before Sullivan dispatched it to Newom, the Biden administration preempted the vote, days ago, when it sent to Congress a draft of a new military agreement with the Kingdom that includes the maintenance of the American combat helicopter fleet.
Fights with Congress in Washington are not an emergency. In the eighties, during the Iran-Iraq war, Saudi Arabia sought to negotiate with the British the Nimrod planes as an alternative in case Washington refrained from selling five AWACS planes as a result of congressional threats. The US deal is finally done.
Yemen and the war there for Saudi Arabia is not an issue at the end of the world, but rather on the borders of the Kingdom directly. Almost daily, it wages a defensive war against the Houthi ballistic attacks and the drone bombardment targeting its cities and facilities.
Dimensions of the Yemen war go beyond the dispute over governance in Sanaa. These are three critical reasons that prevent Yemen from leaving Iran’s Houthi hegemony. The first is that Saudi Arabia is targeted by war, and not only the helpless Yemeni people, as Iran chose Yemen as a base to threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and East Africa. As it did in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, it is repeating the same strategy of expansion and threatening to use militias to destabilize the security of the countries of the region and impose their hegemony.
Second, that Yemen, like Syria, Afghanistan and others, is inhabited by terrorist groups, most notably Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This war prevents the expansion of these armed groups and cooperation with the Houthi forces.
Third, the war in Yemen against the Iranian Houthi and the terrorist “al-Qaeda” is a war, on behalf of the world, to prevent Iran and “al-Qaeda” from reaching and threatening the sea lanes in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The Houthis had previously hit passing ships with their missiles and mines, and they were expelled from sensitive maritime areas. Also, al-Qaeda has a maritime interest. It was the one who targeted the US battleship Cole in Aden prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. These armed groups seek to establish themselves on areas overlooking the sea lanes, and are also looking to cross the Red Sea towards the countries of the Horn of Africa. These are all realistic considerations from the battlefield. Does the United States really have the desire to be lenient in letting Iran, through the Houthis, or “Al-Qaeda” control, or threaten, Bab al-Mandeb, or mine the sea lanes there?
About fifty American organizations and associations participated, for various reasons, in advancing the project to limit military dealings with Saudi Arabia, taking advantage of the report of the United Nations World Food Program on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Unfortunately, the story was presented differently from the truth. The US government itself is a party to collecting facts on the ground, and stressed that the Houthi militia wants to dominate the movement of ships carrying fuel and goods, control them, sell them and use them to punish their opponents, in addition to the fact that most of the humanitarian support comes from the Saudi side.
The Yemeni crisis is not dependent on the position of Congress, or even the US government, but rather on what is happening inside Yemen itself. If an agreement is reached in Yemen that guarantees peace and stability for all, then the war will end, and nothing else.