hell is breaking loose in the Middle East right now and people are crying over zaynmalik leaving 1D ? let me tell you what’s happening in yemen there is a terrorist group called the houthis who have been terrorizing the people of yemen for months and they are backed by iran because they are shia they have bombed government buildings killed countless people and rebelled against the elected government of yemen in the name of democracy even though the Yemeni people elected hadi Saudi Arabia and basically half the muslim nations have launched air strikes on the request of the yemeni people and iran is mad cuz it’s loosing one of it’s favorite terrorist groups so they are sending soldiers and this is basically a shia vs sunni civil war and now officially the ENTIRE Middle East is in war pray for the yemeni people to finally get rid of the houthi terrorists

Ok so I’ve been reading a lot of posts and comments here that are along the lines of “Oh God please give the Sunnis in Yemen victory over the Houthi devils”. Let me stop you right there.

People do not seem to understand how Yemen works, and this goes to all the shias supporting the Houthis too. Yemen is not Iraq. Yemen is not Lebanon where people are divided along sectarian lines, and where allegiances are to one’s sect first. This is not the case in Yemen and never has been.

People in Yemen don’t care about your sect. Yemenis go and pray in whatever mosque is closest to their homes and mosques have no identifiers of their sectarian leanings.

And as far as allegiances go, Yemen (particularly North Yemen) is divided into tribes. And those allegiances can shift dramatically whenever it is convenient. Let me give you an example:

During the Arab Spring, former President Saleh (a Shia) fell out with his buddy and top General Ali Mohsen who is from the Al Ahmar tribe (Shias). Both of them waged multiple wars on the Houthis (Shias) in the past. 
The top opposition party, Islah (Salafis/Sunnis) allied themselves with Al Ahmar (Shia) to topple Saleh (Shia) and although succeeded in 2011, Saleh (Shia) allied himself with the Houthis (Shia) to get rid of their mutual new enemies Al Ahmar (Shia) and Islah (Salafi/Sunni).

See how that works? Houthis forgave Saleh because of convenience. They needed him to take Sana’a. If Saleh returns to the Presidency, I can bet you he’ll take Saudi money again and throw the Houthis in the trash. It’s all about convenience, not sectarianism. That’s how Yemen works.

Now you have Saudi Arabia and Iran waging a proxy war in Yemen and trying to force it to become a sectarian battle because it suits them. And the poor defenseless civilians get caught in the crossfire and die in their hundreds. This is why I oppose everyone in this conflict. They’re all equally evil.

Sign the petition: Release Human Rights Activist Mehdi Khodaei

…Mehdi had been an active board member of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), an organization known for exposing human rights abuses in Iran and helping the families of political prisoners. In 2009, Mehdi was actively involved in pro-democracy protests as a key organizer for the student wing of HRAI. He also worked to produce and distribute human rights pamphlets publicizing abuses by the IRI. The government responded brutally, and over 30 members of HRAI, including Mehdi, were arrested. Ultimately, Mehdi was sentenced to 7 years in prison for “propaganda against the system.”

I cherish my childhood memories with Mehdi. As a teenager, everyone loved to spend time with him because he was always laughing and telling jokes. But Mehdi also had a deeply serious side, and once he made a decision changing his mind was not easy. Mehdi’s humor and determination have been his gift as a human rights activist and have kept him going during his time in prison.

Mehdi is not a criminal. His activities were peaceful, thoughtful, and aimed at improving the lives of individuals in Iran. Further, according to Iranian law he has been in prison too long. Changes to Iran’s penal code in 2013 should have led to reduced sentences for people like Mehdi, but the Iranian judiciary has chosen not to enforce these laws. We are simply asking the Iranian government to enforce its own laws.

I want to show the Islamic Republic that the world cares for Mehdi and activists like him. Time and time again we’ve seen how pressure from the international community can help political prisoners like Mehdi win their freedom. I’m asking for your support one more time.

Sign this petition for Mehdi Khodaei and ask Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary to release him.

In Solidarity,

Alireza Mousavi United for Iran

The Dasht-e Kevir

One does not typically think of deserts in aesthetically pleasing notions. Yet this image of the Great Salt Desert in Iran, which was captured by astronauts on the International Space Station, makes a barren wasteland look like an abstract painting, with lines and curves intersecting and bisecting each other in seemingly fractal patterns.

Also known as Dasht-e Kavir (literally translated from Persian as “desert of salt-marsh”), this vast desert stretches across the Iranian Plateau with an area of about 77,600 km2. As hinted by its name, Dasht-e Kavir has a wealth of salt domes, which were formed from evaporation of an ancient ocean that had once covered the landscape. Because salt is relatively less dense than most rocks, its burial by any new rock can be short-lived as the salt can press against the overlying weight, forming domes. Wind, rain, and other physical processes can erode away at the salt domes, cutting away through cross-sections and exposing the complex layering visible in the image.

Of course, like any desert, its climate is one of extremes. The dry heat of Dasht-e Kavir often alternates with severe storms that shape the desert’s salt marshes through intense cycles of evaporation, inundation, and erosion. Much of the landscape is uninhabitable due to the harsh environment, making it a pristine hinterland perfect for desert and salt dome research.


References and further reading

Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms race. Other states in the region understood — even if they couldn’t admit it publicly — that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.

Iran is a different story.”

The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

"The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

Spies Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones

Max Boot..Commentary Magazine.. 24 March ‘15..

The Wall Street Journal rattled some teacups with its article todayclaiming that Israel is spying on the American team negotiating with Iran and sharing the results with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It should be noted that in the article itself Israeli officials deny that they were spying on the U.S.; they say they got their information from spying on the Iranians and from information freely shared with them by the French, who are more interested in keeping the Israelis informed than the Americans are. Whether the Israeli defense is true or not I don’t know. But either way there is nothing particularly shocking going on here.

As a general matter, let us stipulate that allies should minimize the extent to which they spy on each other, if only because such revelations can be embarrassing and damaging. But the reality is that almost everyone does it. The only notable exception I’m aware of is the “Five Eyes”—the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada—which have been closely cooperating in intelligence matters since World War II. The U.S. certainly spies on allies such as France and Germany, as we discovered from Edward Snowden’s leaks. And they spy on us.

For that matter the U.S. also spies on Israel. In fact it was through such spying that Israel discovered the alleged Israeli spying. As the Journal notes: “The White House discovered the [Israeli] operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.”

So U.S. officials are in no position to be pointing fingers at Israel. If the Journal account is to be believed, the administration is less upset by the Israeli espionage than by the Israelis sharing what they discovered with legislators: “The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.”

Let me get this straight: The administration believes that it must at all costs keep not only close allies such as Israel in the dark about the negotiations but also lawmakers who have a duty to ratify treaties. The only grounds I can see for the administration stance is that Obama is preparing to reach a generous deal with Iran that he knows will upset lawmakers and allies, and he is trying to keep the terms a secret until it is a fait accompli in the hopes of ramming it through using executive prerogative alone. This is well within the president’s power to do but it is hardly a wise way to proceed with such a momentous agreement.

One suspects that the Israeli espionage may have leaked out now for the same reason that the administration insists on pummeling Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly in public: as a way to delegitimize the Israeli position (which also happens to be the majority position of both houses of Congress) in the Iran debate. This is a dangerous game that Obama is playing. At stake is nothing less than Israel’s security as well as that of other American allies located near Iran—to say nothing of US interests in the region.

Is Israel supposed to sit blind, deaf, and dumb while this is going on? While it would be better if Israel didn’t feel compelled to spy on the U.S. (just as it would be better if the US didn’t feel compelled to spy on Israel), this is not an instance such as the Jonathan Pollard case, which was just stupid spying, disrupting the alliance for no good reason. (Pollard was providing “nice to have” information not “must have” information.) This is a matter of survival for the Jewish State. So, while Netanyahu has made some missteps in his dealing with Obama, such as challenging his negotiating position before Congress, this is an instance where Israeli actions are understandable: If the U.S. refuses to share what could be life or death information with Israel, the Jewish State will get its information however it can. If it were put in a similar position, the U.S. or any other nation would act in the same way.



Obama’s Faith in Iran

Iranian power over the last three decades has meant thousands, not hundreds, thousands of dead Americans, but Barack Obama keeps pushing for Iranian power nonetheless, which means thousands more dead Americans in our future.

(Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

How Yemen turned from a local conflict into a regional Cold War

Saudi-led military action against the Houthis could well be the first salvo in a more muscular response to Iran’s growing influence in the region.

By Peter Salisbury

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In the early hours of Thursday morning, the news emanating from social media in Yemen was even more confusing than normal. Residents of Sanaa, the capital, were pouring onto Facebook and Twitter to ask the same question: What the hell is going on?

 One resident said that Saudi Arabian jets were flying over the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and dropping bombs on the international airport — which is also the home of the country’s main air force base. Thus Saudi jets were also bombing key military installations in and around Sanaa and other cities occupied by a militia known as the Houthis.

Shortly after, the US government issued a statement of its own, saying that it was helping underpin the nascent campaign with intelligence and logistical support. The Saudis later said that they couldn’t rule out a ground campaign, and that they had a 150,000-man force ready to go to war.

In hindsight, the chaotic mess that Yemen finds itself in, and Saudi Arabia’s newfound aggression, should not be surprising. The country has been stumbling toward a civil war between two broad coalitions backed by the regional superpowers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, for months now.

The rise of the Houthis

Last year, the Houthis started winning back-to-back victories against conservative Sunni tribes and military units they had been fighting in the country’s mountainous northern highlands for a decade.

The group also lambasted Yemen’s transitional president, the US- and Saudi-backed Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, for failing to implement a series of democratic reforms agreed upon at multi-party peace talks earlier in the year, attacking him for a fuel price hike that had brought the country back from the brink of bankruptcy. They captured the zeitgeist: Yemenis were fed up with a political transition initiated in 2011 that had brought economic malaise, declining security and endless promises of a bright new future that many felt the country’s political leadership had no intention of making happen.

Saudi Arabia, increasingly paranoid about Iran’s growing profile in the region — and seeing the Houthis as an Iranian proxy — started pressuring President Hadi to take a more aggressive role in bringing the Houthis down to size.

Yet when Houthi fighters arrived in Sanaa in September of 2014, it was the tribal militias and military units allied with the Sunni Islamist Islah party that mounted the defense of the capital. Hadi was reluctant to send his own loyalists into the fight until it was too late. On Sept. 21, he signed a peace deal with the Houthis that handed them an unprecedented level of political power in exchange for a promise to withdraw their men from Sanaa. The country’s political elite gathered in the presidential palace to endorse the deal. Most of the men in the room were shellshocked.

The problem with underdog militias is that when they finally gain the upper hand, they rarely see the point in making concessions. The Houthis stayed put in Sanaa and started spreading east and west while doing their best to cement their control over the government and marginalized Hadi, who became an increasingly invisible and unpopular figure. They were incensed when, in February, Hadi bolted from Sanaa after a month under house arrest and rescinded a resignation issued a month earlier.

Many Saudi Arabian policymakers were infuriated by the idea that the Houthis, whom they see as a noxious Iranian proxy in their own backyard, might actually complete their power grab.

And so Riyadh seized on Hadi as a figurehead for an anti-Houthi coalition of forces drawn from Sunni tribes, southern secessionists and the few military units still loyal to the beleaguered president, who started to bluster about sending the Houthis back to the mountains.

Iran extends its reach

That kind of rhetoric must have appealed to hawks in Riyadh, who are becoming obsessed (not without reason) with the idea that Iran is increasing its regional reach. In recent months, Iranian politicians have boasted that they control the capitals of four countries in the Arab world — Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa. It can’t have helped that Iran quickly showed its support for the Houthis after Hadi fled, offering a year’s supply of oil and announcing twice daily flights between Tehran and Sanaa.

But it soon became clear that the Houthis, who are also backed by Yemen’s Machiavellian former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, were in a position to beat Hadi handily. They are better fighters and are vastly better equipped than Hadi’s men. Over the weekend, Houthi militias and military units loyal to Saleh closed in on Aden, seizing an important air base some 60 kilometers northwest of the southern port town. Hadi fled for a second time in as many months.

Saudi Arabia sees the attack on Houthi-controlled military installations and a new countrywide no-fly zone as a rebuke to Iran. It could well be the first salvo in a more muscular response to Iran’s growing influence in the region from Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman. But there is a danger the Saudis, like the Houthis, will take this too far and overstretch themselves.

What has happened in Yemen started out as an internal dispute, one that was probably resolvable once the different parties involved had taken a few chunks out of each other and realized that no one could win an outright victory. If the Saudis decide to push on and try to crush the Houthis, they could push Yemen into the kind of sectarian disorder seen in Syria and Iraq.

The Houthis are experts at guerrilla warfare, while the Saudi army is a largely untested force. There are questions over the extent to which the Iranians supported the Houthis in the past, but the airstrikes on the group have made this a matter of pride. Tehran — still enjoying a newly dominant position in parts of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon — will now probably pull out the stops to assist the Houthis. The losers, as in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, will be people whose only crime was to be born in the wrong country.


Walker: I remember the movie in the 80s, Trading Places…
Hewitt: Right.
Walker: …you know, with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, it’s like Iran and Israel are trading places in the sequel. In the eyes of this president, our ally is supposed to be Israel. Our adversary has been historically Iran. And yet this administration completely does it the other way around. We need to call radical Islamic terrorism for what it is, and a commander-in-chief who’s willing to act.

A friendly interview with righty Hugh Hewitt gave Walker a do-over on his foreign policy flubs. Um, it didn’t work

Yemen Crisis: Saudi Arabia Masses 150,000 Troops to Support Airstrikes - 26 March 2015

Saudi Arabia has mobilized 150,000 troops and some 100 fighter jets to rout Iran-linked fighters that have taken over swathes of neighboring Yemen, a security adviser to the kingdom told NBC News on Thursday.
The adviser, Nawaf Obaid, did not say whether any of Saudi troops had crossed the border into Yemen as part of the kingdom’s military intervention to arrest Yemen’s rapidly deteriorating crisis. But he said Saudi Arabia was in “complete control” of Yemeni airspace after launching airstrikes overnight and started implementing a no-fly zone.
Iran quickly condemned the airstrikes launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies as “very dangerous” for the region.
"Many innocent people were killed," Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afgam said in a statement. "Regional governments should show respect to each other and peacefully resolve matters."
A broad-based coalition of nations — including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Qatar — were lending air support to the Saudi intervention. The United States has confirmed it is lending logistical and intelligence support to the operation.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured al-Anad airbase near the port city of Aden earlier in the week, an installation formerly used the U.S. and Europe in the fight against al Qaeda, as part of their power grab in the poor Arab nation.
Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Judeir told a Washington press conference the “last resort” military intervention was necessary to protect Yemen’s legitimate government from falling.
"We will do whatever it takes," he said. "We have a situation where you have a militia group that is now in control … or can be in control of ballistic missiles, of heavy weapons and of an air force," al-Jubeir added.