At a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted that Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel. This statement was taken as part and parcel of his argument defending the Trump administration’s decision to put Iran “on notice.”
However, as the Intercept confirmed directly with Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood, the attack in question actually took place on a Saudi warship, and the suspected perpetrators of the attack are the Houthi rebels currently leading an insurrection in Yemen, not Iran.
But Iran is allegedly backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So surely, any attack committed by those rebels against the U.S. or its allies can be deemed and Iranian assault by way of proxy, right?
Not according to the U.N. experts, who presented a report to the U.N. Security Council just this past weekend. It stated:
“The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.” [emphasis added]
For those skeptical of claims made by so-called U.N. experts, perhaps one could analyze the claims made by the mainstream media regarding Iran’s role in Yemen to see if there is any substance to the narrative that Iran is backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen. As noted by a Truth-out article published in October 2015, the mainstream media struggles to produce any compelling evidence of Iranian involvement, even with the enormous resources at their disposal:
“[A] recent article published by the Guardian on October 8, 2015, again states that: ‘It is now six months since a coalition of countries, led by Saudi Arabia, took on Iran-backed Houthis who had swept through the country earlier this year.’ The words ‘Iran-backed Houthis’ are again hyperlinked. This time, the hyperlink takes you to another Guardian article, which explains that a ‘source’ has revealed that no more than 10 Gulf-trained fighters have arrived in Yemen. The article references Iran only once by again claiming that the Houthis are Iranian-backed, but this is not hyperlinked to any other source and at no point in the article does the writer even try to explain in which of the Gulf states these fighters, whonumber no more than 10, were trained before their deployment into Yemen.”
Still don’t believe it? This next excerpt is from the Washington Post, dated May 2016:
“Yet as [the author] argues in a recent article in the May 2016 issue of International Affairs, the Chatham House journal, Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.
“Instead, the war in Yemen is driven by local grievances and competition for power among Yemeni actors. The Houthis and Saleh want to overturn the political order that emerged after the uprisings of 2011: Saleh wants to return to power, having lost the presidency in the wake of popular protests, while the Houthis want a greater say in national affairs. In other words, the Houthis want in, Saleh wants back in, and the Hadi bloc wants to keep them both out.” [emphasis added]
The best concrete evidence the media can produce regarding Tehran’s involvement is that some of the weapons the Houthis use are of Iranian origin. However, the media is well aware that the weapons come from Somalia, and outlets are unable to make any real link between Somalia and the claim that Iran is supplying the weapons directly to Yemen (as indicated by the U.N. experts last weekend).
The Houthis are Yemeni, not Iranian. Therefore, they are well within their rights to fight back against the aggressive invading force of Saudi Arabia’s brutal coalition.
The U.S. is once again playing a dangerous game in which officials spout absolute nonsense and mobilize the American citizenry in support of another disastrous war in the Middle East. As noted by the Intercept, the U.S. has used similar baseless fear tactics on multiple occasions in the past, including launching the U.S. into the Vietnam quagmire.
Iran has not attacked the United States, nor can it be said to have attacked any other country for decades, if not centuries. War should be a measure of last resort, not the first action an administration takes after a mere two weeks in office based off inaccurate and dishonest reporting.