In theory, a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran over an awful civil war in Yemen should have nothing to do with Israel.
In fact, Tel Aviv is a major factor stoking a growing crisis that threatens to explode into an even wider war, and trigger a global economic slowdown.
Mainstream U.S. media accounts have bogged down in futile efforts to definitively assess responsibility for the audacious drone attacks that damaged Saudi oil facilities on September 14, sending plumes of smoke up into space. The U.S. press is less rigorous about looking into the Israeli connection to the crisis. Today’s lead article in the New York Times about the risk of “war with Iran” did not mention Israel or Benjamin Netanyahu a single time. Neither did a major report in the Washington Post.
First, Israel has been itself complicit in the terrible civil war in Yemen, in which at least 100,000 people have died, the world’s largest cholera epidemic has broken out, and millions more are threatened with starvation. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz back in February reported that:
Israeli cyber companies, gun traders, terror-warfare instructors and even paid hitmen operated by an Israeli-owned company are partners to the war in Yemen.
But Israel is even more deeply involved in the larger regional crisis, and Benjamin Netanyahu will not be satisfied until the U.S. actually attacks Iran. Israel has zero concern for the Iranian theocratic regime’s repression of human rights; Tel Aviv has excellent relations with General Sisi in Egypt, and its budding alliance with Saudi Arabia’s murderous Crown Prince Mohammed is further proof that it has no trouble working with regional neighbors who have bloody hands. Israel hates (and fears) Iran only because Tehran supports the two strongest armed forces in the region still resisting it: Hezbollah to the north in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza.
Bizarre personal dynamics complicate the scene:
- Donald Trump wants millions to pay for his re-election campaign, and pro-Israel mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has provided them. In return, Adelson imposed arch-hawk, invade-Iran-yesterday John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser — until Bolton challenged Trump and got fired.
- Trump himself does seem hesitant to go to war, because he recognizes it will damage his re-election chances.
- At the same time, Trump and his family slavishly admire Crown Prince Mohammed and the Saudi royals, almost certainly because the Trumps have gotten large sums of money to cement that admiration. And just like Israel, Prince Mohammed definitely wants the U.S. to attack Iran.
- These contradictory pressures surely explain Trump’s vacillating behavior over the past few days as the crisis continues.
None of this is reported clearly in the mainstream American media.