Sheila Carapico refutes the common assertion that the Saudi-led war on Yemen is a “proxy war” with Iran. She addresses the coalition offensive against Hodeidah at the end of her article:
The Saudi-led coalition is now making a push on the strategic Red Sea port of al-Hudaydah, which has already been out of commission for three years and remains “occupied” by Houthi rebels. Al-Hudaydah port and the governorate of al-Hudaydah lie along the Red Sea coastal plain known as the Tihama. The people of the Tihama, residents of fishing, herding, pottery-and-basket-making, and sharecropping communities who have already suffered disproportionately from Saudi-led bombing and the naval blockade, are dark-skinned Yemenis of mixed Arab and African ancestry. Spiritually, they identify with the Shafi`i denomination of Sunni Islam. Socially, they are the poorest of the poor. Politically, they have no sympathy for the Houthis, much less Iran.
The victims of the coming – or current — onslaught are not “proxies of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.” They are starving children under attack by filthy-rich monarchies wielding the most advanced weapons Britain and the United States have to sell.
The Yemenis that are suffering the most from this conflict are innocent and poor people whose lives have been made immeasurably more difficult by political forces they don’t support and can’t control. Except perhaps for aid agencies and human rights groups, there is practically no one that speaks for these Yemenis. Their country’s supposedly “legitimate” government is in league with the invading forces that are destroying their home. They are made to endure indiscriminate bombing, displacement, epidemics, and starvation because of the paranoia and ambitions of despotic Gulf rulers. I have called it the war on Yemen for the last three years because that seems to best describe the conflict. More precisely, it is a war on the people of Yemen.
Framing the conflict as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran creates the impression that Iran’s involvement is in some way comparable to that of the Saudis and their allies, but as Carapico explains very well this is simply not true. Iran’s involvement in the conflict has been and remains negligible and insignificant, especially when compared with the major direct intervention by the Saudis, Emiratis, and other members of the coalition. Buying into this framing has meant that the U.S. indulges the coalition in its crimes and atrocities out of a misguided belief that it is somehow harming Iran in the process, but innocent Yemenis are the ones suffering. They are the victims of a war waged upon them by all of the governments and political leaders involved.