Most obviously: Yemen is not, as the administration has touted, a “success” brought about by its “smart diplomacy.” Most importantly: Iran has a plan. Yemen is a vital component.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees that. So does Saudi King Salman (and no, I will not dwell on the pun). His foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, last week called Iran “an aggressive state that is intervening and operating forces in the Arab world.” Iran’s nuclear weapons program, he added, represents “a threat to the Gulf and the entire world.”
A quick tour of the neighborhood: Much of Syria is already an Iranian satrapy. Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist foreign legion, is the most powerful force in Lebanon. Iranian military advisers and Iranian-backed Shia militias increasingly call the shots in Iraq. And now Iran is aggressively supporting the Houthi rebels inYemen.
Iran has begun what Mr. Netanyahu called a “pincer movement.” To the east of Saudi Arabia is the Persian Gulf, in and around which is the world’s largest repository of known oil and gas reserves — vital to the international economy. The Gulf’s only outlet to open waters is the 24-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz. More than a third of the petroleum traded by sea passes through this strait, which Iran’s rulers have for years referred to as their “territorial waters.” On a number of occasions, U.S. ships in the strait have been harassed by Iranian vessels.