For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
U.S. Strikes on Yemen: Ensuring Proxy Wars and Stalemate? -- Interviews Available
CHRISTOPHER DAVIDSON, email@example.com, @dr_davidson
Davidson teaches politics at Durham University in England. He has written several books on the Mideast, focusing on the Gulf monarchies. His latest is the just-released Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East.
He said today: "By knocking out a radar installation in Yemen responsible for a recent spate of missile launches on Saudi territory and -- purportedly -- on a U.S. Navy vessel, the U.S. has made a direct, but very limited intervention to ensure that no one side is really able to get the upper hand in the country's slow-burning conflict.
"As detailed in the new book Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East, over the past few years the U.S. has sought to engineer a situation in which its constituent companies can trade freely with both Saudi Arabia and Iran -- the backers of the two main rival factions in Yemen -- but in which both of these regional powers will remain locked in 'proxy war' against each other via their local allies and clients. Not only good for maintaining Saudi interest in big ticket arms purchases from the West, despite the impact on Riyadh's treasury from sustained low oil prices, this costly and inconclusive war is also helping ensure that no all-powerful Middle Eastern state can emerge and disrupt a decades-old, U.S.-led status quo. In this sense, we are witnessing a return to the 1980s stalemate between the two big powers of the time -- Iraq and Iran -- during which the U.S. and its allies nominally supporting the former, while the U.S. secretly shipped military parts to the latter, so as to 'keep it in the game.'
"In this context, the longer the current Yemen conflict lasts, the longer the arms race will keep going, and the more dependent both Saudi and Iranian clients will be on support from their patrons. Quietly furious over the lack of significant U.S. support, beyond aircraft refueling and some limited logistical assistance, Riyadh feels betrayed by the U.S. after beginning its Yemen intervention. Moreover, as Shadow Warsdetails, U.S. officials have clandestinely met with Iran-backed Houthi leaders and, on occasion, have even helped to engineer UN criticism of Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign. This week's U.S. strike seems intended to signal that the U.S. is still technically involved in the conflict, ostensibly on Saudi Arabia's side, but that at the same time it is unwilling to go any further than to protect its own assets."
See video summarizing findings of Davidson's latest book.
Davidson's recent pieces include "Links in the Golden Chain: Tracking the Saudi Role in 9/11."
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