So Saudi Arabia, and a coalition of nine Gulf Cooperation Council allies, suddenly started bombing its neighbor Yemen to silence Zaidi Shia Houthi rebels – allegedly back by Iran – on Thursday and the United States totally approves.
“In support of GCC actions to defend against Houthi violence, President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” said the official White House statement on the Saudi military campaign.
For anyone who has been following Middle East politics – let’s say, over the past three or four years – knows how increasingly confusing the U.S. involvement in the embattled region is becoming. Here’s why:
U.S. supports Sunni Rebels against Iran-backed regime
Although the Syrian-government-hating Islamic State was never one of the “good” Sunni rebels the U.S. armed to fight against Iranian ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, ISIS gained a lot of recruits from American-trained rebels because the notorious terrorist organization too hates Assad.
U.S. fights alongside Iran-backed Shiite militia fighting ISIS
Not long after Bashar al Assad was pressured to surrender alleged chemical weapons after Russian diplomatic intervention led by Vladimir Putin, the ISIS terrorists established a so-called caliphate in Iraq last June.
The new militant group quickly spread its control in Iraq as well as Syria and targeted everyone from Shiites and non-Muslims, to other minorities such as Yazidis as well as Sunnis who were “infidels.”
This prompted swift reaction from Iran who offered to protect the Shiite community in Iraq and later from the U.S. who offered to protect Yazidis.
In a bizarre change of alliances, the U.S. is now – sort of – fighting ISIS alongside Iranian-backed Shiite militia. This, interestingly enough, also helps Assad (the dictator who was being ousted by America) since his government was also under attack by ISIS.
U.S. supports Saudi military offensive against Iran-Backed Zaidi Shiite Rebels who were also fighting al Qaeda at one point
Houthi rebels, who follow a separate branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism, are fighting against the Sunni-dominated Yemeni government for their rights and against oppression. They also fought against Saudi-funded al Qaeda militants along with Yemeni forces.
Saudi Arabia alleges that Iran supports the Houthis and decided to bomb them for fighting against the Sunni Yemeni government that’s sort of controlled by the Saudi monarchy.
Now that the U.S. has decided to support Saudi military operation against Iranian-backed Houthis (who were, remember, also fighting al Qaeda – the world’s No. 1 enemy), the situation has become a tad confusing.
Recommended For You: Who Are Houthi Rebels And What’s The Yemen Conflict: A Short Explainer
Also, U.S. plans to have peace negotiations with Iran while supporting Saudi Arabia against Zaidi Shiite rebels
Even more confusing is the fact that Iranian state television called the Saudi campaign in Yemen a “U.S.-backed aggression” while both Iran and the U.S. are engaging in peace negotiations over former’s nuclear program.
For More Details: Saudi Hatred For Shias Drives War In Yemen
All of this might sound a bit too messed up but don’t worry – it is not just you. It’s in fact the U.S. policies in the Middle East which, as we can infer from the discussion above, have become more complicated than ever before.