Sunni-Shia proxy war not limited to Yemen

Saudi Arabia has cobbled together the most significant coalition of Sunni states in decades to do battle with Iranian backed, Shia militias and terrorists who are setting the Middle East on fire.

For the Kingdom, it's a question of survival. Eventually, their own restive Shia minority may rise against them if Iran goes unchecked in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

And since Iran is currently winning these conflicts, the Saudis are looking to turn the tide of war in the Sunni's favor.

Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Arabia, along with the U.A.E., is at the forefront of the coalition of Arab states coordinating their approach to security. Their goal is to form a joint force of Sunni Arab countries to fight extremism in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The establishment of the joint force is expected to be discussed Saturday at a summit of the 21-member Arab League in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The foreign ministers of Arab League members approved a draft resolution to create the force at a preparatory meeting Thursday ahead of the summit, according to official U.A.E. government news agency WAM.

While the U.S. continues to have a military presence in conflicts in the Middle East, its withdrawal of ground troops from Iraq and a rapprochement with Iran has unnerved the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, leading to discussions of a joint Arab force.

The airstrikes on Yemen come at a delicate time for the U.S., as it and five other world powers negotiate with Iran over a possible easing of sanctions in exchange for curbing work in its nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at making weapons.

“If the U.S. cannot do the job, then the Gulf countries have to protect their vital interests,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University.

Yemen has hastened the establishment of the coalition, he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commended the work of the coalition battling the Houthis and the White House said the U.S. plans to provide logistical and intelligence support.

It is significant that Egypt and Turkey are both supporting the coalition, although Turkey has not committed any troops yet:

On the sidelines of the meeting, he consulted his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon before flying to Morocco to meet with Prince Moulay Rachid. In February, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi also joined the call for a joint Arab military force “for defending the security of our countries” against terrorism.

“These countries are now collectively taking responsibility for their own security,” said Danny Sebright, president of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council and previously director of policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Turkey said it was supporting the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen, condemning the Houthi assault on Aden.

“We support the military operation that has started against Houthis; we believe this campaign will help prevent the risk of a civil war and chaos that has surfaced in the country, and restore the legitimate state authority,” the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Egypt’s air force and navy are participating in the campaign in Yemen and the country could send ground forces if needed, the foreign ministry said. The offer follows growing cooperation between Egypt’s military leadership and the wealthy Gulf states, whose cash injections have boosted the Egyptian military’s rise to power.

Pakistan has said it will join the coalition, but only if Saudi Arabian sovereignty is threatened. That's not likely to happen - unless Iran intervenes. If that were to happen, Syria and Yemen would become side shows and the entire region would be in flames.

Iran isn't strong enough to take on Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, and the rest of the Sunni Arab world. That's why they will probably complain bitterly about the war against the Houthis in Yemen, but not spend much capital in defending them. They will continue to support the Shias in Iraq, who they now command, and Hezb'allah in Syria and Lebanon.

The result of these proxy wars will be a realignment in the Middle East with Iran and Saudi Arabia strengthened and the US shunted to the sidelines. That might not be such a bad idea what with a full blown sectarian war possible.

Saudi Arabia has cobbled together the most significant coalition of Sunni states in decades to do battle with Iranian backed, Shia militias and terrorists who are setting the Middle East on fire.

For the Kingdom, it's a question of survival. Eventually, their own restive Shia minority may rise against them if Iran goes unchecked in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

And since Iran is currently winning these conflicts, the Saudis are looking to turn the tide of war in the Sunni's favor.

Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Arabia, along with the U.A.E., is at the forefront of the coalition of Arab states coordinating their approach to security. Their goal is to form a joint force of Sunni Arab countries to fight extremism in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The establishment of the joint force is expected to be discussed Saturday at a summit of the 21-member Arab League in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The foreign ministers of Arab League members approved a draft resolution to create the force at a preparatory meeting Thursday ahead of the summit, according to official U.A.E. government news agency WAM.

While the U.S. continues to have a military presence in conflicts in the Middle East, its withdrawal of ground troops from Iraq and a rapprochement with Iran has unnerved the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, leading to discussions of a joint Arab force.

The airstrikes on Yemen come at a delicate time for the U.S., as it and five other world powers negotiate with Iran over a possible easing of sanctions in exchange for curbing work in its nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at making weapons.

“If the U.S. cannot do the job, then the Gulf countries have to protect their vital interests,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University.

Yemen has hastened the establishment of the coalition, he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commended the work of the coalition battling the Houthis and the White House said the U.S. plans to provide logistical and intelligence support.

It is significant that Egypt and Turkey are both supporting the coalition, although Turkey has not committed any troops yet:

On the sidelines of the meeting, he consulted his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon before flying to Morocco to meet with Prince Moulay Rachid. In February, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi also joined the call for a joint Arab military force “for defending the security of our countries” against terrorism.

“These countries are now collectively taking responsibility for their own security,” said Danny Sebright, president of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council and previously director of policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Turkey said it was supporting the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen, condemning the Houthi assault on Aden.

“We support the military operation that has started against Houthis; we believe this campaign will help prevent the risk of a civil war and chaos that has surfaced in the country, and restore the legitimate state authority,” the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Egypt’s air force and navy are participating in the campaign in Yemen and the country could send ground forces if needed, the foreign ministry said. The offer follows growing cooperation between Egypt’s military leadership and the wealthy Gulf states, whose cash injections have boosted the Egyptian military’s rise to power.

Pakistan has said it will join the coalition, but only if Saudi Arabian sovereignty is threatened. That's not likely to happen - unless Iran intervenes. If that were to happen, Syria and Yemen would become side shows and the entire region would be in flames.

Iran isn't strong enough to take on Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, and the rest of the Sunni Arab world. That's why they will probably complain bitterly about the war against the Houthis in Yemen, but not spend much capital in defending them. They will continue to support the Shias in Iraq, who they now command, and Hezb'allah in Syria and Lebanon.

The result of these proxy wars will be a realignment in the Middle East with Iran and Saudi Arabia strengthened and the US shunted to the sidelines. That might not be such a bad idea what with a full blown sectarian war possible.