With the new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continuing the crackdown on the kingdom's old exporting of Wahhabist/Salafist fundamentalist Sunni Islam, many who are more sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam, more generally, have reflexively flinched. Perhaps most specifically, the Iran-Turkey-Qatar axis of Islamism stands most stridently athwart bin Salman's reforms. Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was, after all, a pawn of the jihad-exporting Qatari regime.
One side effect of bin Salman's reign has been to harden the feelings of many on the post-Barack Obama political Left and prod them to double down on their regional preference for Iran over Saudi Arabia. And there is perhaps no better proxy fight in the Middle East right now between Iran and Saudi Arabia than the current civil war in Yemen between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Suffice it to say that the Houthis are not exactly the most innocent actors in the region.
Enter freshman congresswomen and anti-Semites Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). As is befitting the two, who share some close ties with radical Islamists, they have come out squarely in favor of framing the current civil war in Yemen as being Saudi Arabia's fault.
Tlaib tweeted on Tuesday: "Remember when Trump said he wouldn’t cut Medicare and Medicaid? Well he broke that promise. He’d rather give Lockheed and the Saudis money for missiles."
Omar, quoting Tlaib's tweet, also tweeted on Tuesday: "Saudi Arabia is consistently ranked among the worst human rights abusers in the world and is responsible for famine/cholera outbreak in Yemen. Yet it is the top buyer of U.S.-made weapons. Why is Donald Trump siding with weapons manufacturers over human rights activists?"
But the reality is that the horrific and bloody civil war in Yemen, however tragic it may be from a collateral damage perspective, amounts to a zero-sum game between bin Salman's Saudi Arabia and the Iranian mullocracy, which is the world's number one state exporter of global jihadism.
As the incisive Evelyn Gordon wrote last month:
An expert report submitted to the U.N. Security Council this month concluded that Iran is illegally funding Yemen’s Houthi rebels by giving them oil, which they can sell for cash. From last year’s version of the same report, we learned that Iran is arming the Houthis with missiles and drones, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. Thus whatever the Houthis were when the war started, they are now effectively an Iranian subsidiary, dependent on Tehran for both cash and arms.
That is just one of many reasons to be appalled by the Senate’s renewed effort to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led fight against the Houthis. ...
[E]mpowering allies is always better than empowering enemies. Granted, Saudi Arabia is a highly imperfect ally, but it is at least nominally in America’s camp. Iran, in contrast, has been America’s avowed enemy since 1979, and its proxies have been responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of American deaths in Lebanon and Iraq. Thus for the Senate to weaken Riyadh and strengthen Tehran, which targeting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen does, would be foolish at any time. ...
In Yemen, the lesser evil is clearly backing the Saudi coalition. This would not only further America’s strategic goals at minimal cost (the U.S. contribution consists of intelligence sharing, midair refueling and arms sales), but would be preferable to a Houthi victory from a human-rights standpoint.
Though it is perhaps unsurprising, the Tlaib and Omar tweets are yet another reminder of how far the Islamism-sympathetic Left will sometimes go in its reflexive sycophancy toward Iran and opposition to Saudi Arabia — which has emerged as a key intelligence-sharing ally of Israel's. So for now, Tlaib and Omar apparently remain supportive of Iran's war in Yemen.