Senator Marco Rubio: Hold Saudis accountable, but don't ignore Iran in Yemen
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
December 12, 2018
After Saudi operatives brutally murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October, the Senate is rightly reviewing U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, including debating U.S. involvement with the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen conflict. Not enough attention, however, is being given to Iran’s direct responsibility for the suffering, violence and tragedy in Yemen.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is staggering. The ongoing conflict between the Saudi-supported, internationally-recognized government in Yemen, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, reportedly has claimed over 57,000 lives, driven half of Yemen’s 28 million people to the cusp of famine, and displaced 2.3 million Yemenis from their homes.
The U.S. has powerful interests not only in ending Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, but also in stopping Iran and its Shi’a terrorist proxies, as well as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS-Yemen, and other Sunni terrorists, from establishing permanent footholds from which they can threaten our nation and our forces in the region.
In Yemen, as in Syria, Iran is ruthlessly pursuing malign hegemony with no regard for innocent lives. The Iranian regime is using arms transfers, training and terrorist proxies to empower Houthi rebels, terrorize Yemeni civilians, undermine the security of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and challenge U.S. national security interests in the region.
Houthi rebels have used Iranian-supplied advanced arms in the Yemen conflict, indiscriminately launching over 100 ballistic missiles against Saudi cities, unleashing explosive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against Saudi civilian targets, and deploying explosive boats and anti-ship missiles against commercial ships in the Arabian Gulf.
Moreover, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have detained thousands of Yemenis and reportedly subjected many of them to “extreme torture – being smashed in their faces with batons, hung from chains by their wrists or genitals for weeks at a time, and scorched with acid.”