During an interview with the New York Times that was published on November 23, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (shown on left) called Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the “new Hitler of the Middle East.”
“We learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” said Prince Mohammed.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran back rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the Middle East. Perhaps the most significant of these conflicts is the ongoing struggle in Yemen between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are fighting against forces loyal to Yemen’s president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the country in March 2015 and went into temporary exile in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia conducted a bombing campaign in support of his government, and in September 2015, he returned to his provisional capital in Aden as Saudi-backed government forces recaptured the city.
We noted in an article in The New American in 2015: “The Houthi rebels are allied with forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was president of Yemen from 1990 to 2012. Saleh’s loyalists are al-Qaeda’s most powerful opponents, but the Saudi-led bombing threatens to weaken them. Therefore, the Saudi bombing, which is supported by the United States, will have the effect of helping al-Qaeda!”
A Reuters report on November 24 noted that Salman told the Times that the proxy war was going in its favor and that its allies controlled 85 percent of Yemen’s territory.
However, observed Reuters, the Houthis still retain the main population centers despite the war effort by a Saudi-led military coalition, which receives intelligence and refueling for its warplanes from the United States. Saudi Arabia has launched thousands of air strikes against the Houthis during the 2-1/2-year-old war in Yemen. Houthi rebels, in return, launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh’s main airport on November 4, which Saudi Arabia’s government condemned as an act of war by Tehran.
The Saudi crown price said in May that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran.”
The Iranians reacted strongly to the prince’s comparison of their leader to Hitler, saying that bin Salman was discredited internationally by his “immature” behavior, state television reported. “No one in the world and in the international arena gives credit to him because of his immature and weak-minded behavior and remarks,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying. “Now that he has decided to follow the path of famous regional dictators ... he should think about their fate as well.”
In our 2015 article, we observed:
[Our] interventionism in Yemen has not been any more productive than was our nation’s long history of intervention in Iran — the country that we are now posturing to keep away from Yemen. Former U.S. Representative Ron Paul often spoke of the “blowback” that resulted from our meddling in Iran, from the time our government undermined the democratic government of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 to install the Shah. It was lingering resentment over those actions that fueled the anti-U.S. sentiment that came to a head after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that installed the theocratic rulers who have governed Iran ever since. The 444-day hostage crisis, during which the Iranians held 52 American diplomats hostage, was the beginning of an adversarial relationship between Iran and the United States.
Now, the result of years of U.S. interventionism in the Middle East is producing more bad fruit, as the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the U.S.-backed forces loyal to Hadi square off against each other.
The ongoing proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is but another conflict that our government would be wise to stay clear of. As The New American’s foreign correspondent, Alex Newman, noted in 2015: “With the U.S. government already $17 trillion in debt, it is time for Congress to rein in Obama and put an end to the disastrous meddling not just in Yemen, but everywhere.”
That advice is just as valuable with regard to President Trump as it was to former President Obama.