Imagine a Missile Attack on New York

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, March 31

On May 19, 2017, a few hours before US President Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia, the Houthi rebels fired a Type 2 “Volcano” missile toward Riyadh. The Iranian newspaper Kayhan, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, celebrated the attack and announced that the next target would be Dubai [in the United Arab Emirates]. In just four years, the number of rockets fired by the Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia reached over 220 ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia attacked thousands of Houthi installations in Yemen. This continuous violation of Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty at the hands of a terror group finally pushed the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express his irritation with Congress, which called to end the military cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia over alleged “violations of human rights” in Yemen. During a recent hearing in the House of Representatives, Pompeo unequivocally asserted that “The Kingdom has the right to defend itself and its people, just like the United States would if a missile were to target Denver or Los Angeles.” Pompeo was right. The problem with some Western elites, especially those in Congress, is that they easily criticize this war because they are not actually experiencing the threat of these missiles. It is only after sustaining hundreds of missile attacks by terrorist militias that Riyadh decided to take military action in Yemen. If we imagine for a minute that one of these missiles hit an American city, these members of Congress would themselves demand action against the perpetrators of the attack, even at the cost of violating human rights. But of course, this only happens when the threat is posed against the United States, not a different nation. Many people overlook the fact that when Operation Decisive Storm was launched by Saudi Arabia in Yemen four years ago, war was a necessity, not an option. The Houthi militias are continuously firing Iranian missiles at Saudi towns and cities. Can we imagine what the situation would be if the Houthis were able to unhinderedly import and store more weapons and missiles from Iran? How would the safety of hundreds of hundreds of international ships, carrying 30 percent of international trade through Bab al-Mandab, be ensured? Is it possible to imagine how the interests of the United States, not even those of Saudi Arabia or the Arab countries, would have been protected from Iranian aggression? Is there even a question that without operation Decisive Storm, Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, would already control Yemen? Everybody knows the answer, but many are too scared to admit it out loud. Saudi Arabia does not seek war. It also supports the diplomatic resolution of regional conflict. To date, the Houthis have signed more than 70 agreements but refused to abide by a single one. All of this was done under the eyes of the international community and the US Congress. If American legislators are concerned about human rights violations, they should start by putting themselves in Saudi shoes and begin holding the Houthis accountable to their crimes. – Salman al-Dosari

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