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Proxy wars in the Middle East


Tort

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The recent development in Yemen (what?!), threaten to devolve into a wider regional conflagration between the Shiite Iran and the allied militant Houthis, and the Sunni coalition.

For more than 30 years, the Sunni states have been engaged in a "cold war" with Iran for power and influence in the Middle East. In recent years they watched Iran spreading its influence through Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and now Yemen, as well as exploiting its near nuclear status to further expand its sphere of influence.

Until now? Following the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels storming the Yemeni port city of Aden. (strategic location near the mouth of the strait, think Oman and Iran) Saudi led, and backed by Egypt and Turkey, coalition of ten states has united over the issue in Yemen, in what will likely prove as testing ground for a united front against Iran and terrorist movements tearing the region apart.

What do you guys think on this recent development, the Sunni Shiia issues at large and the state of the region?


EDIT: Map:

Middle-East-map.gif


 

Also:

Edited by Tort
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I forget who said this but "If you take the last Sunni and the last Shia, put them in a room together and tell them they are the last Muslims alive they would fight to the death".

 

The whole regions is a bloody mess and the only reason anyone cares is oil. That's why in the US the government needs to get out of the way and let us exploit our own.

"While it is true you learn with age, the down side is what you often learn is what a damn fool you were before"

Thomas Sowell

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You can delegate to the superpowers, but Iran is one of the major contributors to regional instability or that bloody mess as you said. For a long time Iranian has been actively trying to establish proxies and arming shiia groups in the region, recently with two of the traditional sunni powers(Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi) "fall" and the other two squabbling over the leadership role, as well as the nuclear talk farse, Iran has become more bold. And we see the results, about two years ago no one wanted to believed they were working in Syria and Iraq (iirc there were weapon shipments to yemen even then) and now here you go.

 

 

Don't you find it interesting, that all the current conflict coincide with Shia dominated regions:

http://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/assets/4231075/sunni_shia_nasr.jpg

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Speaking from a strategic viewpoint I can't see what the USA were thinking of when they invaded Iraq for the second time, any military advisor worth his salt could have told Mr Bush what the result of unbalancing that precarious Sunni-Shia tug of war would be. Obviously Saddam had to go, as he was becoming increasingly unstable, but there was no need to tear down the Sunni infrastructure. They forgot to use the carrot as well as the stick, and for all of pre war Iraq's faults it was fiercely opposed to the disruptive elements of the region, and favoured a certain degree of secularism.

 

Perhaps Iraq was doomed from the start when we first welded it together from three seperate regions and peoples, and certainly some of those people suffered unduly under Saddam such as the Kurds, but one has to ask whether they and the region are better off now. Of course I have none of the answers, but I can unfortunately empathise with those who blame the west for their part in first creating a stalemated conflict and then unbalancing it. Of course we English did this all over the world when we ran the flag over an empire on which the sun never set, sometimes to our own detriment, and earned a hatred and mistrust that still persist, so we are hardly fit to preach. Perhaps the USA could learn from our mistakes however?

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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The merits of the invasion can be debated forever, but after it they didn't really have a choice- as soon as Iraq became 'democratic' it was inevitable that the shia would get power, no matter what else. Much of the sunni power structure was deeply ingrained in the ba'athist party, no matter what as soon as the shia came to power those structures and their leaders were going to go. And, of course, most of the opposition which the US relied on was shia/ kurd based, not sunni, so they could not simply install a Saddma V2 who would be happy with the status quo pre 2003. In many ways the US could scarcely have done worse, but that at least was always going to happen.

 

It's also fundamentally not worse than what came before, after all the shia are a majority, the 'disruptive' elements now just come from the opposite direction than before. Much as voting along sectarian lines is not something that generally happens in the west any more the 'rules' of democracy are that if you can get a majority you get to make the rules. Plus, of course, as much as Iran has interfered somewhat it has hardly been alone, sunni/ wahhabi states like Qatar and Saudi have poured billions into destabilising shia countries and marginalsing shia themselves, there is no doubt at all that they are very much, and very genuinely, the enemy so far as shia are concerned. Most of the extreme sunni groupings don't even see shia as muslim, hence how you get salafis and other extremists justifying their mass murder. It's also why any 'GCC mediated' 'peace plan' for Yemen can be discounted as laughable propaganda, the GCC is run by the same people who have been financing ISIS and Al Qaeda plus the other nutbar salafiesque extremists in the first place.

Edited by Zoraptor
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Most of the extreme sunni groupings don't even see shia as muslim, hence how you get salafis and other extremists justifying their mass murder.

 

Yes unfortunately I have first hand experience of this, a friend of mine, a reasonable, intelligent and cultured gentleman holds similar quite unreasonable views. Not quite as extreme but his impression is, as you say, that they are not really Muslims.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Most of the extreme sunni groupings don't even see shia as muslim, hence how you get salafis and other extremists justifying their mass murder.

 

Yes unfortunately I have first hand experience of this, a friend of mine, a reasonable, intelligent and cultured gentleman holds similar quite unreasonable views. Not quite as extreme but his impression is, as you say, that they are not really Muslims.

 

Interesting, as that sounds similar to some Catholics' opinions on Protestants.

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"TL;DR: Schlongs make you catch the gay and are too woke." - majestic

"I'm gonna hunt you down so that I can slap you square in the mouth." - Bartimaeus

"if you behave we will let you visit the adoption event" - InsaneCommander

"You cracked the case, it wasn't meant to be nice." - Malcador

"Obi-Wan Kenobi - Whelp, that was a waste of time." -Hurlshort

"I was just waiting to see what bad thing was going to happen when they went through Serbia, but thankfully it seems like the creators like Hungary less this time around." - Sarex

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@Nonek

 

Hindsight is 20/20. Some go further than Iraq, questioning the strategic viewpoint of USA opposition to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan [which proved the later downfall] that gave rise to the mujahideen, although it is a safe bet that at the time it was seen best choice.

Concerning Iraq, the strategic concerns were with the so called "axis of evil", and to a large extent they were proved right. At the time the nuclear framework agreement with NK was failing, using the nuclear chip NK were extorting concessions on western dime, that would strengthen their hardliner regime (Since then their missile and or nuclear technology ended at Iran and Syria backdoors); While Iran were working against "our" interests in Afghanistan, on top of their usual tricks. (later, their hardliner policy and expansion of IRGC role resulted in a proxy war with Israel); While Iraq,which spent most of the prior decade involved in aggressive militaristic campaigns and was spanked for it, thought to test the boundaries of its surrender agreement, believing that international forces were over extended; Meanwhile, I assume that bush and his friends believed that toppling Sadam would provide stability, as well as isolate Iran.

 

But we digress, I am sure that Iraq2 has been done here to death, over multiple threads.. since then the strategic situation has changed dramatically.


 

Perhaps the USA could learn from our mistakes however?

Blaming SykesPicot for the current strife due to its failure to create a national identity transcending tribal and sectarian divisions, is at best a nice intellectual exercise. I think that a FAR more constructive approach would be to better understanding the capabilities and goals of the regional powers, so we can avoid making further mistakes i.e. underestimating the situation in the middle east.

Edited by Tort
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It's also fundamentally not worse than what came before, after all the shia are a majority, the 'disruptive' elements now just come from the opposite direction than before. Much as voting along sectarian lines is not something that generally happens in the west any more the 'rules' of democracy are that if you can get a majority you get to make the rules. Plus, of course, as much as Iran has interfered somewhat it has hardly been alone, sunni/ wahhabi states like Qatar and Saudi have poured billions into destabilising shia countries and marginalsing shia themselves, there is no doubt at all that they are very much, and very genuinely, the enemy so far as shia are concerned. Most of the extreme sunni groupings don't even see shia as muslim, hence how you get salafis and other extremists justifying their mass murder.

 

To sum it up, you are somehow attribute the recent changes in Iraq (read as blood bath), to normal democratic process. Then attempt to diminish Iran involvement in Iraq, by pointing at Sunnis...

 

Obviously I disagree. I find Iran involvement in Iraq to have destabilizing effect, Iran wants to be certain that a strong Iraqi state does not reemerge along its border (e.g. see Russia and Ukraine) and will do what it takes. Also lets not forget Iran involvement in every other conflict in the middle east, including Iran's principal arena, Syria, where they are the key reason for Assad still being in power.

 

I think that destabilized Iraq, and Iran's hold on Syria and Lebanon (creating corridor of Iranian influence to the Mediterranean) and now Yemen (on the Arab world trade jugular) speaks for it self. (like Russian "protection scheme" where they annex\destabilize countries all along their border )

Edited by Tort
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To sum it up, you are somehow attribute the recent changes in Iraq (read as blood bath), to normal democratic process. Then attempt to diminish Iran involvement in Iraq, by pointing at Sunnis...

 

Yeah, nah. Having cheerfully oppressed the majority shia for decades there was no way the sunni would retain power democratically, and it was not a South Africa type situation where a minority willingly (more or less) gave up power so earned some goodwill. The only thing democracy has to do with it is that shia were a majority so won democratically, and far from being given a reason not to be vindictive (per South Africa) they were given every reason to try and stomp the sunni into the ground due to all the suicide bombings and the like. Not nice, but then it the shia response was considerably more mild than they would get from Saddam, or Al Zarqawi, or Al Baghdadi/ 'Ibrahim'.

 

Obviously I disagree. I find Iran involvement in Iraq to have destabilizing effect, Iran wants to be certain that a strong Iraqi state does not reemerge along its border (e.g. see Russia and Ukraine) and will do what it takes. Also lets not forget Iran involvement in every other conflict in the middle east, including Iran's principal arena, Syria, where they are the key reason for Assad still being in power.

Iran wants a strong(ish) Iraq, it just wants people friendly to it in charge. Which is more or less what most of those involved want, it's just that the GCC etc being sunni want the minority rather than the majority in charge. All the various destabilisation attempts from the GCC types have done is ensure that Iraq will be driven into Iran's sphere permanently, long term their ISIS proxy (now gone spectacularly off reservation) is going to get stomped, hard.

 

And frankly blaming Iran for every conflict in the ME is laughable. As just one (neutral) counter example, Turkey vs Kurds, perhaps the longest running of the regional/ internal conflicts. The most common factor in ME/NA conflicts is actually nutbar sunni/ salafis, who fight shia, other religio-ethnic groups, moderate sunni and other nutbars that they disagree with without much discrimination in Syria, Israel/ Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and for the vast majority of international islamic terrorist incidents. Most of those places listed have zero Iranian influence, either.

 

I think that destabilized Iraq, and Iran's hold on Syria and Lebanon (creating corridor of Iranian influence to the Mediterranean) and now Yemen (on the Arab world trade jugular) speaks for it self. (like Russian "protection scheme" where they annex\destabilize countries all along their border )

And I don't see why replacing Iranian influence in those areas with Saudi influence is in any way better. I might agree with Syria, if the two strongest opposition groups there by far weren't ISIS and Al Nusra/ Al Qaeda- neither of which is renowned for being in any way moderate. Basically though, I view Saudi influence as utter poison. I don't think Iran is a good guy, but it certainly is the lesser of two evils in that comparison. No amount of state sponsored propaganda from Al-Arabiya and the like will convince me otherwise.

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I am sorry but this just a load of crap. I am tired of people trying to paint all these struggles (here, Ukraine\Georgia, etc) as ideological, when its mostly about geopolitics and self-interest.

 

Sectarian struggle due to domestic discrimination by the dominant groups has been prevalent in the Middle East, however, pretending that the situation in Iraq is just that, and not the result of the country devastation, power vacuum and outside influence is silly. Just as it is to pretend that the current situation in Syria isn't by large due to Iran involvement. ( btw it has been suggested that ISIS originated in its current form as Syrian\Iranian proxy, before they lost control, and was intended as form of MAD doctrine i.e. if the west get involved in Syria, their interests get hammered in Iraq, similarly Iran use its influence in Syria as bargaining chip on the nuclear talks )

 

As for influence, while Iranian and Saudi Arabia are in the leading roles along the sectarian lines, the Sunni Arab world has been balanced by more than one power, which by large are more moderate compared to Iranian hardliner policy. And there is no hiding Iran's ugly face of expansionism behind any facades, with its proxies and weapons supplies to radical minority groups, popping in the Arab peninsula for the last couple of decades.

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1427625639713.png

"TL;DR: Schlongs make you catch the gay and are too woke." - majestic

"I'm gonna hunt you down so that I can slap you square in the mouth." - Bartimaeus

"if you behave we will let you visit the adoption event" - InsaneCommander

"You cracked the case, it wasn't meant to be nice." - Malcador

"Obi-Wan Kenobi - Whelp, that was a waste of time." -Hurlshort

"I was just waiting to see what bad thing was going to happen when they went through Serbia, but thankfully it seems like the creators like Hungary less this time around." - Sarex

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Most of the extreme sunni groupings don't even see shia as muslim, hence how you get salafis and other extremists justifying their mass murder.

 

Yes unfortunately I have first hand experience of this, a friend of mine, a reasonable, intelligent and cultured gentleman holds similar quite unreasonable views. Not quite as extreme but his impression is, as you say, that they are not really Muslims.

 

Interesting, as that sounds similar to some Catholics' opinions on Protestants.

 

 

My thoughts exactly.

 

@Nonek

 

Hindsight is 20/20. Some go further than Iraq, questioning the strategic viewpoint of USA opposition to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan [which proved the later downfall] that gave rise to the mujahideen, although it is a safe bet that at the time it was seen best choice.

 

 

Concerning Iraq, the strategic concerns were with the so called "axis of evil", and to a large extent they were proved right. At the time the nuclear framework agreement with NK was failing, using the nuclear chip NK were extorting concessions on western dime, that would strengthen their hardliner regime (Since then their missile and or nuclear technology ended at Iran and Syria backdoors); While Iran were working against "our" interests in Afghanistan, on top of their usual tricks. (later, their hardliner policy and expansion of IRGC role resulted in a proxy war with Israel); While Iraq,which spent most of the prior decade involved in aggressive militaristic campaigns and was spanked for it, thought to test the boundaries of its surrender agreement, believing that international forces were over extended; Meanwhile, I assume that bush and his friends believed that toppling Sadam would provide stability, as well as isolate Iran.

 

But we digress, I am sure that Iraq2 has been done here to death, over multiple threads.. since then the strategic situation has changed dramatically.

 

 

Perhaps the USA could learn from our mistakes however?

Blaming SykesPicot for the current strife due to its failure to create a national identity transcending tribal and sectarian divisions, is at best a nice intellectual exercise. I think that a FAR more constructive approach would be to better understanding the capabilities and goals of the regional powers, so we can avoid making further mistakes i.e. underestimating the situation in the middle east.

 

My own preferred constructive approach is for nation states to respect each others borders, affairs and leave well enough alone. Trade and self defense would still be viable and advantageous to all, but simply halt the game playing and get out of that mire. There is no end game in sight, I don't believe that there ever will be so long as we are meddling in others affairs.

 

I'm aware that this sounds naive, but no more naive than believing that we can manipulate regions into following foreign policies that will benefit us in the long or short term.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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That is naive. More so by your vague use of "we". Who do you speak off Iran, Saudi, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, China, Russia.. Every local and global power is trying to maintain power and angles to expand it. Electing not to "play" will not effect that.

 

The only way to achieve peace and security in our little global village is by promoting international cooperation. The live and let be idea sounds amazing, but doesn't work in the international arena (nor in domestic affairs, where at least you have some check and limits systems in place).

 

Most people who voice it are populist, really ranting about USA being the superpower, because they see themselves as the underdog and want to become it.

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I am sorry but this just a load of crap.[..] btw it has been suggested that ISIS originated in its current form as Syrian\Iranian proxy, before they lost control, and was intended as form of MAD doctrine i.e. if the west get involved in Syria, their interests get hammered in Iraq, similarly Iran use its influence in Syria as bargaining chip on the nuclear talks

 

Well, that about sums it up, really. Find a way to blame Iran for everything, up to and including the 'theory' that Iran was using the sunni radicalism they supposedly (and in reality do) hate and which hates them and which was also fighting their friends in Iraq as a proxy, as some sort of 'PR tool' while it was also fighting their friends in Syria. That's outright ludicrous.

 

The history of ISIS is well known, their pedigree politically and leadership wise stretches back to Al-Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq franchise, through Al-Baghdadi mk1 to Al Baghdadi Mk2/ 'Ibrahim'. They got defranchised for going against Zawahiri, as Al-Q-in-I they got plenty of support from Saudi and Qatar etc as Al-Nusra still does and did so right up until Al-Baghdadi became 'Ibrahim' with the fairly explicit claim against Saudi Arabia that a Caliphate implies. They have always fought against Iran's interests, and as with all the official Al Qaeda branch of Al Nusra have spent plenty of time fighting moderate sunnis, radical sunnis/salafis they disagree with and any and all religio-ethnic enemies. Which is everyone non arab/ non muslim and those not radical enough. That Persian shia Iran were somehow running them is simply not believable; the only way to get that conclusion is to start from Iran being evil and to blame for all the ME's ills, and to work back from there.

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That is naive. More so by your vague use of "we". Who do you speak off Iran, Saudi, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, China, Russia.. Every local and global power is trying to maintain power and angles to expand it. Electing not to "play" will not effect that.

 

The only way to achieve peace and security in our little global village is by promoting international cooperation. The live and let be idea sounds amazing, but doesn't work in the international arena (nor in domestic affairs, where at least you have some check and limits systems in place).

 

Most people who voice it are populist, really ranting about USA being the superpower, because they see themselves as the underdog and want to become it.

 

What exact power does one gain from dragging ones country into an unwinnable war? Certainly the USA does not need to be interfering in other nations domestic affairs, they are a hyper power, they've won. I'm not at all anti USA, in fact i've stated repeatedly that i'm worried about the anti American sentiment that is being popularised across Europe, but I see no peace and security being created by the international community. I simply propose that instead of carrying on with the usual maneuvering we've seen for centuries, that we try a little enlightened self interest.  

 

America has nothing to lose, the Middle Eastern nations will still sell their oil at a massive profit, Russia will still do business with Europe despite their grandstanding and rhetoric. Nothing will change, except we would no longer be supporting unwinnable wars, creating future enemies or wasting our young mens and womens lives.

 

Just my opinion however.

Edited by Nonek
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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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@zoraptor, I certainly sums up something...

 

Iran has been involved in Syria from the very start, keeping its ally in power prolonging the civil war. You disagree it had destabilizing effect, because of the various radicals group that has gained power since... Which similar to rationalization used in the west, to absolve themselves from any responsibility from the results in Iraq, because of those Shiia/Sunni rivalries...

 

I point out Iran hardliner polices and evident expansionism, using the ages long practice they try to gain power by destabilizing their enemies, doing so by arming Radical Shiia groups in the arab peninsula (e.g. the huge weapon shipment into Yemen just before the attacks, has only been the latest in a series ever since the Arab spring rumbled the country, sitting on the Saudi back step). And you deflect Iran proxy wars with silly examples of various common domestic issues to the region.

 

Finally, you find an after thought comment about the time ISIS reformed in Syria (not its current state) -- when it was said that many of its commanders has been in Syrian intelligence-- so can pick at it with your out of context straw, giving a long summary of its current state of affairs..

Edited by Tort
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Couple of commentaries on the evolving situation in Yemen:

  • The Arab League endorsed the creation of an intervention force to fight terrorism in the Middle East.(link)
  • Why Yemen matters.(link)
  • Can GCC military intervention save Yemen?(link)
There some nice points. Its not the first force the Arab League assembled, whose reputation on mater of cooperation are spotty at best. There are concerns about the members states capabilities and priorities, especially if ground force is to be employed against Iran’s battle-hardened allies in a forbidding terrain.

 

However, I agree that the "willingness of Arab states to finally sacrifice blood and treasure to defend the region from terrorism and Iranian encroachment is a positive development".

Edited by Tort
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I honestly don't know if you are joking... Some of the troll post and opinions e.g. USA\Europe involvement in the Arab peninsula is BAD because West?, while Russia's and Iran involvement\expansionism GOOD because not west?. And Iran evident expansionism/proxy war and nuclear ambitions is just isn't "good", while in comparison Saudi minor roles is poison...

Edited by Tort
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...I simply propose that instead of carrying on with the usual maneuvering we've seen for centuries, that we try a little enlightened self interest.  

 

America has nothing to lose, ...

Again I sense that your issue is with recent USA foreign policy.. And I say again, moving from one extreme to the other as children often do, wont achieve anything, certainly not put an end to the usual maneuvering for power in some kind of world peace utopia. As was recently shown by Russia, between EU and China they won't just let their "power" dwindle no matter who gets stomped in the way..

 

With said, I understand your sentiment, many are tired from loss of life\resources and willing to let the Middle Eastrens battle themselves to the DEATH! and I agree with first part. Without going into to many details**, lets just say I am happy with the developments noted in the OP and what led to it.

 

**To avoid the annoying topic of USA policy and the associated trolling. However, I would say that IMO dealing with problem in isolation from its context is the wrong, and placing western troops (not to be confused with any involvement) didn't and wouldn't serve long term interests.

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While Yemenis brace for war, which will likely be a long one considering Yemen topography and Iranian support (see Syria) and IMO Arab coalition being far less experienced\capable compared to what Iran gained in the last decade)

Iran bolsters that Yemeni missiles can hit targets inside Saudia, while U.S. Resumes military aid to Egypt Suspended Since 2013. Also in Syria a large force of Iranian IRGC forces, supported by their Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi shiia militias, reportedly has been moved south to the border with Jordan. (presumably to stop rebel activity there and support from Jordan) At the same time Syria lost a major district in the North, which were held only by Syrian troops.


Also a nice article about the "Shiite revival" with a summary of events in the region, spanning over the last decade.( link )
 

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