The whiners in the US and Saudi Arabia

The recent attack on the refineries in Saudi Arabia has, predictably, aroused outrage in the leadership of that country and its patron the US. The Houthi rebels in Yemen that are fighting against the Saudi-backed government have claimed responsibility for the drone attack but that does not fit with the preferred narrative of the Saudis and the US who want to paint Iran as the villain in that region in order to isolate it even further.

Donald Trump has astonishingly said that he is waiting for to hear from Saudi Arabia as to what the US should do, which makes the US military look like a mercenary force and one wonders who is the dominant partner in that alliance. But back in 2014 when Barack Obama was president, Trump was saying something quite different.

As is almost always the case, the US and its allies are quick to adopt the victim posture. Even though Saudi Arabia is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Yemen, it is the Houthis, fighting in their own country, that are deemed to be the aggressors. And even though Yemen is tens of thousands of miles away from the US, the US military involvement in that horrendous war is seen as acceptable while any support given by Iran to Yemen, a nearby country, is seen as gross interference in the region.

It is clear that the drone attack has embarrassed Saudi Arabia by exposing how ineffective its military has been in waging its war against the Houthis. Despite bombing that country mercilessly, creating widespread misery and a massive humanitarian crisis for the population, in strictly military terms the Saudi effort has been a bust, unable to stop the growing influence of the Houthis.

It should be noted that Saudi Arabia has the third largest military budget in the world ($70 billion), after the US ($716 billion) and China ($224 billion). So the failure of the US-Saudi alliance to defeat the Houthis shows how ineffective its efforts have been and one suspects that embarrassment at this exposure of their failure contributes to their anger and the desire to shift the blame to Iran, even though Iran ranks a mere 33rd ($6.3 billion), even below tiny countries like the Emirates and Oman.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Yemen is tens of thousands of miles away from the US…

    Pedantry time: per Distance Calculator, the nearest major mainland city in the US (Miami, FL) sits only 7,741.59 miles (12,458.89 km) from Sana’a, capital of Yemen.

    Unless one insists on going the long way around, no point on the surface of the Earth is more than ~12,500 miles from any other point.

    Maybe the Yemenis could buy peace by making a really generous offer to set up a Trump™ Tower Sana’a.

  2. says

    Pierce@1: “Maybe the Yemenis could buy peace by making a really generous offer to set up a Trump™ Tower Sana’a.

    Or maybe dig up some dirt on Joe Biden.

  3. Mano Singham says


    Of course you are right. I repeated the number of deaths in the earlier sentence without thinking.

  4. fentex says

    Iran is probably involved, at least as a supplier of equipment. But holding that against them only raises the question about where the weapons killing Yemeni’s come from (hint: they aren’t made in Saudi Arabia) .

    And it is likely that Iranians also helped deploy these weapons. But again, how many technical advisers and instructors does one imagine the suppliers of arms and munitions to Saudi Arabia have in country?

    Saudi Arabia is scared of Iran, they are mortally afraid of direct conflict (because Iran would kick their arse) and existentially afraid of rebellion being fomented within their borders. There is nothing they’d like more than the U.S carrying their water on this matter -- and that’s one thing Trump has so far been -- apparently -- consistent over, refusing to be drawn into new conflicts.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t become convinced (if say, for instance this Ukraine thing blows up) that a war is what he needs to be re-elected.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    Even with a completely supine media, a war we fought as a Saudi patsy would be a tough sell to the American people, especially after so many have first-hand experience with Middle East quagmires. Also, it would mostly be fought in the Persian Gulf, which means oil prices would double overnight. So only the stupidest idiot would even dream of…

    Never mind, I remember who we’re dealing with here.

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