After reportedly coming under fire from missiles launched in Houthi rebel-held territory, the United States officially entered the war in Yemen today by firing back, knocking out strategic radar sites and other targets in the area believed to have fired first.
In response to the U.S. escalation, Iran deployed a fleet of military vessels to the same geostrategically-critical Gulf of Aden waters where American ships have been situated for months guarding the Bab el-Mandeb strait — the narrow passage through which much of the world’s oil is shipped through to the Suez Canal.
While that may be the crux of the narrative presented by the U.S. government and corporate media, far more ominous secondary developments must be considered, and — as has been the case in Syria and the East and South China Seas — everything points back to Russia.
Yemen’s Shi’a Houthis — who captured capital city, Sana’a, last year — have long been suspected by Washington to be receiving direct but surreptitious support from the Iranian government, which flatly denies the allegation.
Those rebels deny having fired at the Navy ship or that the missiles even emanated from territory held by the Houthis — and although the U.S. insists at least three missiles emanated from Houthi territory, the considerable lack of efficacy in such an attack certainly adds weight to their assertions.
Nonetheless, the media has been quick to pounce on the American claims as valid — before the Department of Defense even concludes the investigation it putatively initiated. As Reuters reports:
“The United States is seeing growing indications that Iran-allied Houthi rebels, despite denials, were responsible for Sunday’s attack on a Navy destroyer off the Yemen coast,” U.S. officials told Reuters. The rebels appeared to use small skiffs as spotters to help direct a missile attack on the warship, said U.S. officials, who are not authorized to speak publicly because the investigation is ongoing.An unnamed and unverified military source further cast doubt on Pentagon claims, telling the Houthi-run Saba news agency:
The Houthis have publicly denied any role in the strike.
“These allegations are unfounded and the army as well popular forces have nothing to do with this action,” the source reportedly said. “The US allegations just came in the context of creating false justifications to pave the way for Saudi-led coalition to escalate their… attacks against Yemen and to cover for crimes continually committed by the aggression coalition against the Yemeni people and to continue an all-out blockade.”As mentioned, however, those pointed questions didn’t stop the U.S. from taking direct military action, prompting Iran — who views the sudden and dramatic escalation as naked, baseless aggression — to deploy its own fleet to the Gulf of Aden.
This, despite the captain of the U.S.S. Mason stating Tuesday the supposed attack only ‘seemed’ to be directed toward his vessel.
“The initial thoughts are that this [attack] was aimed at them,” DoD spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday shortly after the incident.
For the United States to employ direct military force against an albeit conflict-embroiled sovereign nation over an incident still under investigation and as-yet unproven indisputable fact, is reminiscent of the vehicle it undertook to embroil itself in the Vietnam War — the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
However, in this case, the move could prove an arrogant flub of enormous proportions.
Yemen, itself, is not of imperative importance to the U.S. except outside the waters off its coast — however, as a proxy ally of Russia its regional consequence matters a great deal.
Should the United States now wage war in Yemen directly, Iran — as indicated in the naval deployment — would almost certainly opportune the chance to defend Yemen militarily, as Business Insider reports:
By taking direct military action against the Houthi rebels, a Shia group battling the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, the US has entered into — even in a limited capacity — another war in the Middle East with no end in sight.And although the U.S. response has ostensibly been measured and limited, analysts are cautioning the direct military action — as opposed to previous proxy support through the notorious Saudi-led coalition — could easily set off a larger conflict across the entire region.
Any Iranian engagement with the United States could easily provide its ally Russia, if not China, with yet another field of engagement. An unnamed ‘U.S. official’ told FOX News, in fact, both a Chinese warship and Russian intelligence ship have been spotted in the same waters where the the Mason putatively came under attack.
Indeed, it could facilely be argued Russia has been playing quite the chess game with the United States throughout the Middle East, amassing a growing number of allies in the process. While Washington touts Russia as one of its many ‘enemies number one’ — officially blaming the Russian government for the damaging hacks and leaks from the DNC database, among other points — a dearth of evidence belies the Russian aggression narrative as false posturing.
Meanwhile, the U.S. alliance with human-rights criminal, coalition leader Saudi Arabia has provided ample motivation for nations to either officially align with Russia or to at least withdraw support. Even the highly-politicized United Nations has condemned the Saudis’ U.S.-backed actions in Syria and has dialed down its support for the coalition.
But the fact questions surround the U.S.’ claims concerning missiles launched from rebels ostensibly supported by Iran when it acted to destroy targets supposedly in Houthi-held territory could have destroyed the last remaining obstacle to all-out war — war, that is, with Russia and its multiple military allies.
In fact, it’s entirely feasible Putin’s weariness with the Russian aggression narrative coupled with the United States essentially striking forces aligned with Iran has set in motion an irreversible chain of events.
With Russian and Chinese vessels spotted in the same waters off the Yemeni coast, it would seem possible Russia intends simply to quash the U.S. for its arrogantly aggressive tactics. For all intents and purposes, the Pentagon employed an unfounded premise to act militarily against Iran — Russia’s ally — giving Putin every reason to come to its defense.
Whether or not the United States piled the last straw on the camel’s back will be decided in the coming days.
Although analysts partisan to American foreign policy have repeatedly claimed Russia lacks the military might necessary to wage an all-out endeavor against the U.S., they not only underestimate Russian capability, but plainly ignore the heft of military might in the alliance Putin has fomented with Iran, China, and, now, the Philippines — each with soured U.S. relations.
At this point, it’s entirely possible the U.S. has served up the ultimate ‘check’ — but whether or not Russia answers with a nuclear ‘checkmate’ it appears to be preparing for might be known sooner than had been imagined.
Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.