July 20, 2024
The Saudis are far from admirable, but we need to support them in this escalating conflict.
Iran is an outlaw regime in chronic need of punishment, and the danger lies not in overreaction but in insufficient retaliation.
Iran is an outlaw regime in chronic need of punishment, and the danger lies not in overreaction but in insufficient retaliation.

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is beside the point, as the Houthis had no independent ability whatever to acquire and use such weapons. The Iranians are behind the incident. There is room for legitimate debate about the merits of the conflicting sides in the Yemen war, but there can be no doubt that by any standards, the direct attack on Saudi Arabia was an act of war, and as it was entirely dependent on Iranian weapons procurement and instruction, it is an escalation of the war-by-proxy between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen with an outright act of war by Iran against Saudi Arabia. There is no reason to believe, or even to recommend, that Saudi Arabia should turn the other cheek and engage in reactive pacifism. Because the Trump administration has ignored the efforts of American political factions, including recalcitrant Republicans, to ditch the Saudis, Washington retains great influence on the Saudi response to what is a severe provocation. This can be seen as a great opportunity, as it furnishes a justification for administering a heavy blow against the most troublesome regime in the world.

The United States would do well to take the trouble to line up allies. The Western alliance will be even more skittish than usual, given that the aggrieved party is the not entirely presentable Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia has been a joint venture between the House of Saud, an old nomadic desert family favored by Britain and France on the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire at the end of World War I, and the Wahhabi Islamic leadership. The feudal and absolute monarchy paid extensive Danegeld to the Wahhabis as they spread militant Islam throughout the Eurasian landmass and in Australasia and North Africa, in exchange for a free pass for the Saudi royal family. The Saudi regime has gradually, under steady American influence, modernized the structure of the state, spread the petro-money around the population, and withdrawn from the Faustian bargain with fundamentalist Islam. It has followed the Arab version of the Chinese model: economic and (to some extent) social reform and general distribution of prosperity, without relaxing the authority or capacity of self-assertion of the state. The Saudis avoided the catastrophe of Russia and, briefly, Egypt, of trying to introduce democracy without elevating public standards of prosperity and education.

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See Also:

(1) Trump to get broad range of military options to respond to Saudi oil attacks: report

(2) Bolton, neocons hit Trump for not striking Iran

(3) Trump’s showing the right strength on Iran

(4) President Trump says he expects sanctions to work on Iran

(5) Trump likes threats more than action. Iran has caught on