The Middle East on the brink: imperialists pour petrol on the flames

“Those whom the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad.”

“Never hate your enemy. It affects your judgement.” (Michael Corleone in The Godfather)

On the morning of 12 January 2024, the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, launched a series of cruise missile and airstrikes against Yemen.

The assault was announced in a blaze of publicity. It was presented to the public as an isolated action in response to alleged Houthi aggression against international shipping in the Red Sea. This is false on two counts.

Firstly, the argument deliberately propagated by western propaganda, that the attack on Yemen was an isolated incident – a flash of lightning from a clear blue sky – is a deliberate lie.

The fact of the matter is that there has been a spate of airstrikes carried out by the Americans and Israelis against targets in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria – especially the last-named country – in the last few weeks. But all this was kept shrouded in secrecy. 

The attack on Yemen was merely the culmination of these aggressive acts.

Moreover, it forms part of a pattern of aggression that has not yet reached its ultimate target.

There is another, even more blatant falsehood, namely, that this action had nothing in common with the Israeli attacks, which have resulted in over 23,000 mainly civilian deaths in Gaza. 

This point has been particularly emphasised by the British Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who accused Iran, which backs the Houthis, of being a “malign actor in the region”.

Cameron’s comments are merely a pathetic echo of those of his boss in Washington.

Biden Cameron Image Number 10 FlickrLord Cameron is admirably equipped to play the role of the loyal manservant / Image: Number 10, Flickr

Lord Cameron is admirably equipped to play the role of the loyal manservant. His upper-class accent and impeccable manners are a tolerable imitation of Reginald Jeeves, the butler in PG Wodehouse’s novels.

That accurately represents the real role of British imperialism in the world today. Reduced to the position of a second-rate power, Britain is compelled to play the humiliating role of a servile manservant, faithfully following the orders of his master at every step.

Since Joe Biden had already said that he would “not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary”, Cameron’s servile endorsement was completely superfluous. 

Nevertheless, the loyal butler hastens to say, “Amen”. And he, in turn, is immediately followed by the comically mis-named ‘Labour’ leader, Sir Keir Starmer. This lackey loses no time to pronounce the words which one has come to expect from the leader of the British Opposition: “Me too”.

Some MPs timidly complained that they were unable to debate the air strikes before they occurred. But these pathetic whimpers were soon brushed aside by the deafening chorus of support for the warmongers. After all, what price is parliamentary democracy, when the interests of US imperialism are at stake?

Nothing to do with Gaza?

The argument that this attack has nothing to do with Gaza is a blatant lie. The Houthis have made it abundantly clear that their attacks on shipping were in response precisely to the Israeli massacre of civilians in Gaza, and that they will continue until medical and food aid is permitted to reach the battered and traumatised population of that unhappy region.

All this has been ignored by the West, and this is no accident. Neither was it an accident that the USA did not see fit to go to the UN Security Council to ask for the green light to commence the bombing of what, after all, is supposed to be a sovereign nation.

Vice President Joe Biden visit to Israel March 2016..Meet with PM Benjamin NetanyahuJoe Biden and his administration have acted as the conscious accomplices in what the South African government has characterised as an act of genocide / Image: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the start of Netanyahu’s bloody war on the people of Gaza, Joe Biden and his administration have acted as the conscious accomplices in what the South African government has characterised as an act of genocide.

In the Security Council, the Americans have consistently vetoed every attempt to impose a ceasefire upon Israel. That is the reason why on this occasion they avoided a veto on their own act of aggression against Yemen by the simple expedient of ignoring both the toothless United Nations and what is laughingly referred to as “international law”.

Biden’s blindness

There have been many times in world history when events have spiralled out of control because of miscalculations on the part of rulers and governments. And the present regime in Washington is characterised by a degree of shortsightedness and ignorance that is astonishing, even by recent American standards.

Joe Biden has consistently revealed himself to be a man who lacks the slightest grasp of the niceties of international policy and diplomacy. He is blinded by the delusion that America enjoys such overwhelming economic and military power that it can afford to ignore such details, relying exclusively on naked force to impose its will on the rest of the world.

It is true that America remains by far the richest and most powerful nation on earth. But this power is by no means unlimited, and its limitations are being cruelly exposed by every passing day.

Biden is a sad remnant of the era of the Cold War, when the USA was confronted by the power of the Soviet Union. With the collapse of that power, a section of the American ruling clique was captivated by the illusion that the United States, as the sole remaining superpower, could impose its will on everybody else without much difficulty.

At that time, the former Soviet Union was in a state of prostration, unable to assert itself on the world stage and led by the likes of Boris Yeltsin, a drunken comedian who behaved like a servile lackey, always ready to dance to Washington’s tune, like one of the dancing bears in an old Russian fairground.

But history moves on and much has changed since those days. Russia today is no longer weak and impotent. True, it is a capitalist country run by a voracious and corrupt oligarchy with a gangster standing at its head. But weak and defenceless it certainly is not.

Biden Zelensky Image The White House Wikimedia CommonsThe Kyiv regime and its backers in NATO have been defeated / Image: The White House, Wikimedia Commons

The Americans already had a lesson in that respect in Syria, where they suffered a humiliating defeat. But they do not seem to have drawn the necessary conclusions from that experience.

They deliberately pushed Ukraine into a senseless war with Russia, which could easily have been avoided had they accepted the fact that Ukraine could not join NATO. Instead, they encouraged Zelensky to engage in a conflict that he could never win.

Now the result is clear to everybody. The Kyiv regime and its backers in NATO have been defeated. The continuation of this bloody conflict can only mean further terrible destruction and deaths on a vast scale. But the end result is inevitable. Yet Joe Biden and his clique are hell-bent on fighting to the last drop of Ukrainian blood.

Biden’s policy is not driven by logic but by obsessions and hatreds that he has carried over from the Cold War. This is very clear every time he speaks about Putin. He seems incapable even of pronouncing the name without spitting.

For Joe, the whole thing has become personal. But this is hardly the way in which foreign policy is conducted. Mr Biden could do a lot worse than following the advice of the Mafia Godfather Don Corleone, who admonished one of his followers with the words: “Don’t hate your enemy. It can affect your judgement.”

This is quite an accurate assessment of the stupid way in which foreign policy has been conducted in Washington for quite some time now. The Americans have shown a complete inability to accurately judge the character, competence and intelligence of their opponents on a world scale. But to underestimate the enemy is always a bad policy.

Ever since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, western propaganda has consistently underestimated the ability of Russia to wage war, while systematically exaggerating the fighting potential of the Ukrainians. The result of this foolishness is now clear for all to see.

What next? 

Instead of learning from their mistake in Ukraine, they are now repeating it, on a far bigger, and potentially more disastrous scale in the Middle East.

The declared aim of Washington, in excusing their military intervention in the region, has consistently been “to prevent an extension of the conflict in Gaza.” But the latest action has exposed this claim as entirely hollow. Let us follow the facts of the case, and see where this leads us.

Houthis Image public domainThe Houthis are a very formidable enemy: a well-disciplined, tough and battle-hardened force / Image: public domain

The Americans have boasted about the devastating results of the air attacks that were alleged to have hit numerous targets in Yemen with missiles and bombs.

But what effect will this raid have in practice? Will it serve to deter the Houthis from carrying out further attacks on shipping? The answer was delivered immediately in a defiant reply by the Houthi militia leader, who threatened a “strong and effective response”.

The Americans clearly imagined that the Houthis would be a relatively easy target. This was a very bad mistake on their part. The Houthis are a very formidable enemy: a well-disciplined, tough and battle-hardened force that has been involved in constant fighting for decades.

For the past nine years, they have stood fast against the Saudi Air Force, armed and equipped by the Americans with the most up-to-date planes and missiles.

The Saudis have repeatedly bombed their bases and massacred huge numbers of civilians, both with bullets and bombs, and also by a deliberate policy of starving them to death through a savage policy of economic blockade.

Yet in spite of all this, the Houthis continued to fight on, defeating the enemies and winning control over the north west of the country, including its capital Sana'a. Such a determined force is not likely to be deterred from pursuing its objectives by a few American and British bombs and missiles.

The Houthis clearly have the support of the mass of the population. This was amply demonstrated by the huge demonstration of hundreds of thousands of angry Yemenis that followed the attack by US and British forces.

The idea that an aerial bombardment could somehow intimidate these people was obviously based on a serious miscalculation. The result has been the opposite to what was intended: to stir up the masses and to harden the resolve of the leaders, who have sworn to take revenge on the aggressors.

What form will this revenge take? Attacks on US military bases and installations throughout the region? That is inevitable. Attacks on US and British warships? It is hard to say, but it seems doubtful that the Houthis possess sufficient military skills or equipment to do this with any degree of success. 

But further attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea? That is an entirely different matter. These attacks are well within the capability of the Houthis, as we have seen. They will naturally continue, and even be intensified.

The United States has carried out other strikes in Yemen, further ratcheting up tensions and bringing the risk of a wider extension of the war ever closer. But no amount of aerial bombardment can prevent the Houthis from disrupting shipping in the Red Sea.

In a very short space of time, the complete futility of these attacks will stand exposed. The US will appear to be weak and impotent in the face of a poor and backward country. So, what then?

US Boat Image public domainThe United States has carried out other strikes in Yemen, further ratcheting up tensions / Image: public domain

This brings us to the heart of the matter. The real target is not Yemen, or Lebanon, or Syria, or Iraq. It is Iran, which the American imperialists have considered for a long time to be the source of all their problems in the Middle East.

It is no accident that they persist in referring to the Houthis as mere proxies of Iran. They constantly repeat the argument that behind their actions lies the hidden hand of Teheran. 

While it is true that Iran supports the Houthis, it by no means follows that the latter are mere proxies, or that Teheran can order them to do whatever it decides. Even if they wanted to exercise pressure, the aggressive actions of Israel and the United States in Gaza provides them with absolutely no reason to do so.

Nevertheless, the United States and its allies continue to point the finger of blame at Teheran. This cannot be an accident. The stage is being systematically prepared for aggressive actions against Iran, which would have the most serious consequences throughout the Middle East and beyond.

It may be argued that the consequences of such an action for US imperialism would be extremely serious. It would inevitably lead to attacks against every US base in the region, as well as oilfields, businesses and other American interests.

All this is true, and there must be opposition to such a move in Washington – possibly even from elements in the Pentagon itself. But this does not at all mean that such an action is ruled out. 

Although they are currently bogged down in a fatal quagmire in Ukraine, which has severely sapped their resources and reduced their military stockpiles to dangerously low levels, they are now preparing to land themselves in an even bigger mess.

The attack on Yemen has further inflamed the anger of the masses in every country of the region. This angry mood was sufficiently inflamed even before this. But now the whole region is a huge powder keg, waiting to explode. 

Other countries are already getting drawn into the fray: Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But there is no longer a single stable regime in the whole region.

Lord Cameron cautioned it is “hard to remember a more unstable, dangerous and uncertain world”. He is not wrong. But by their actions, British and American imperialism are busy throwing fuel on the fire. The people of the Middle East and the entire world will ultimately pay the price.

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