Washington should focus on U.S. security and prosperity, not clean up Saudi Arabia’s mess

September 14, 2019
Contact: press@defensepriorities.org

WASHINGTON, DC—Earlier Saturday, two Saudi Arabian oil installations came under attack. Houthi rebels from Yemen, who receive limited support from Iran, claimed responsibility. Secretary Pompeo blamed Iran, but provided no evidence to support that claim. Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement in response:

“Core U.S. interests in the Middle East are limited to eliminating anti-U.S. terror threats and avoiding significant, long-term disruptions to global oil supply.

“While unfortunate, the attacks early Saturday on Saudi Arabian oil processing installations appear to be primarily extensions of the war in Yemen, where the Saudis are attacking the Houthis, who get Iranian support. The attacks are not a threat to the United States or a major issue for the global economy. According to Saudi Arabia, production will return to normal levels by Monday.

“If the attacks were indeed carried out by Houthis, it is more reason for the Saudis to find a negotiated settlement to their intervention in Yemen—it is not a reason for the United States to fight Saudi Arabia’s wars for them.

“Washington should not pick sides in the Sunni versus Shiite fights in the region, nor should it risk U.S. lives and dollars to clean up Saudi Arabia’s mess.

“Iran is a middling power that can cause Saudi Arabia headaches, but it is not a threat to dominate the region. It can easily be checked by its neighbors. Regional actors should take the lead in confronting this type of malign activity.”

Defense Priorities explainer: Ending U.S. military support for the Saudi-UAE-led coalition’s war in Yemen