In addition to that growing consensus there are expressions of fear concerning the intentions of the Iranian government to "politicize" the Haj perhaps to the extent of fulminating another armed attack on the Grand Mosque along the lines of the embarrassing shoot-out at the Kaaba years ago. The Iranians are doing nothing to reduce the fears and anger in the Kingdom. To the contrary the men of the mullahs are pouring hot rhetoric on the flames.
The verbal attack on the Kingdom has been led by Ali Larjani, the current Speaker of the Majlis and former nuclear negotiator. Larjani is a very hard hard-liner as his his brother the recently appointed capo d'tutti capi of the Islamic Republic's judiciary. Both are strongly affiliated with and supported by the Supreme Leader, Khamenei. It is worth noting that Speaker Larjani is both slicker and smoother than president Ahemdinejad and is often seen as a necessary counterweight to the overly populist Orator-In-Chief.
With a measure of duplicity noteworthy even among the mendacious Tehran regime, Ali Larjani observed to a audience of visiting Sunni clerics--that's right, Sunni--that the Saudi Arabian air and artillery attacks on the Houthi (and any civilians unfortunate enough to be down range) were a clear violation of the Islamic stricture against Muslims waging war on Muslims. He concluded that the Saudi "massacre should cause all Muslims to feel outrage."
Fer sure, dude. You are kind of selective in what sort of Muslim-kills-Muslim episode is worthy of generating outrage in Muslim hearts and minds.
Not to be outdone in the rhetorical offensive, Ahmedinejad, while in Turkey called for dialog and restraint in the conflict. With a (presumably) straight face the Orator-in-Chief stated that Iranian policy "is only to strengthen the unity, brotherhood and cooperation among all nations."
The word, "all" must be defined in the mind of Ahmedinejad in a very strange and narrow manner. Certainly his view of "unity, brotherhood and cooperation" does not extend to the US, Israel, most, if not all, of Western Europe or Arab Muslim states which have the temerity to push back against the mullahs' attempts to export the Revolution.
Iranian ideas of cooperation are very narrowly construed if recent reports from unnamed diplomatic sources to the effect that the Iranians have completely rejected the UN backed nuclear materials plan are correct. The time for any sort of cooperation (and unity and brotherhood) on the nuclear contretemps other than a US and EU capitulation is apparently no longer short but totally exhausted.
The Iranians are quite willing to extend the benefits of "unity, brotherhood and cooperation" to non-state actors such as Hezbollah as the recent Francop Affair demonstrates. This is what has the Saudis riled.
There is a palpable fear in the Kingdom that Tehran intends to transform the Houthi from an annoying but minor insurgency to a full bore Hezbollah clone. This apprehension is far from groundless. The government of Yemen is quite reminiscent of the government of Lebanon in the days before Hezbollah, in effect, took it over.
The cloning of Hezbollah in Yemen would provide a powerful advantage to the Iranians in their strategy of becoming the regional hegemonic power. At the very least the growth of Houthi into a permanent feature in the politico-military landscape of the Arabian Peninsula would divert the Saudis, force the Kingdom to focus on internal security, and, lessen the capacity and will of the House of Sand to buck up the smaller states of the Gulf.
The gamesmanship of the mullahs in Yemen should be of major interest to the US. It is self-evident that the US would find some important national and strategic interests compromised if the Houthi become a larger feature in Peninsular politics. The US has gone through several painful (and way back in the Fifties one non-painful) engagements with the Lebanese political arena.
This should be enough to teach even the Americans that one Lebanon, one Hezbollah, is one too many. The time for the use of leverage, support, and assistance in helping the Saudis chart a course of stability in Yemen is right now--not a few weeks or months hence.
In the process the basic reality of Yemen must be understood. Yemen has no history of a national or even a well defined geographical identity. The current government is both corrupt (what else is new?) and inefficient (ditto.) The tribal congeries which constitutes the human terrain of Yemen is badly fractured as it has been most of the past century and more. The probability of a government generally conceded to be legitimate is next to zero.
The Yemen swamp is one where Uncle Sam cannot and should not tread directly. The Saudis, while far from overly competent, possess the necessary fundamentals of understanding, leverage, the willingness to safely if not discretely use force and something very real at stake--its own national security.
In any event the very best that can be hoped for in Yemen is the blockage of the Iranian ambition: the prevention of another Hezbollah arising in a very critical small corner of the world. The way in which the Saudis and whatever passes for a government in Yemen deal with the Houthi and the Iranians over the next few weeks will determine whether Yemen becomes (A) one more Lebanon complete with an Iranian puppet or (B) another Somalia or (C) stumbles on as it has for the past several years, doing a drunkard's walk along the cliff with a single misstep plunging it into the Gulch of Failed States.
All the Geek can offer by way of encouragement to either the House of Sand or the Nice Young Man From Chicago is a cheery, "Lots of luck, dudes."