The proxy war in Yemen shows that Iran has the upper hand in the region because it is willing and committed. The Iranians have the Qods force of the IRGC who are investing in copycat Hezbollahs: very well trained and loyal sectarian militias with a heavy Iranian presence: some of the Qods Iranians don’t rotate out but remain and start a local family. They’re religious and consider it their duty.
It’s a pattern that predates even the revolution when the charismatic religious leader Musa Sadr left for Lebanon and worked tirelessly for the improvement of the then disadvantaged Shi’a and in fact all Muslims. He started the Amal movement from which later Hezbollah broke. Many Iranians joined him out of a religious mission to help disadvantaged Shi’a and Muslims. Imam Musa disappeared on a visit to Libya in 1978 but his example work continue to inspire. His mission remains the mission of the revolution today and especially of the Qods force even though the endless wars have embittered them and made them relentless and brutal versus the Sunnis of Syria and Iraq. The Qods force is trained to levels comparable to US Rangers yet are peerless in their ability to network locally, be inclusive, and tie their mission to a local grievance (which in Yemen is not very hard to do) and establish roots. They now have strong roots in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Against this, the Saudis have no answer. They may have one of the largest and most capable forces in the region, but who is going to lead them? Picture the Saudis going into Iraq or Syria to live and fight amongst their Sunni brothers and sisters and do heroic deeds that echo and inspire. Of course they won’t and can’t. They’re far too jaded and authoritarian for that. No wonder they are losing. No wonder that they are afraid. No wonder that they’re going to need the west to bail them out again.
And it’ll be messy. As long as so much of our energy requirements come from the region, we’ll get sucked in. So get off your … and install solar panels and battery storage, insulate your home. Religiously work to reduce your and society’s dependency on hydrocarbons. It won’t just save the environment but also deprive the Middle East from the money it needs to sustain this madness. On both sides.