The New York Times ran a strange article today on the U.S. and Yemen:
A year and a half of bombing — along with the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians — has stoked anger in Yemen not only toward the Saudis, but also toward their perceived patrons in Washington [bold mine-DL].
Yemenis perceive Washington as the Saudi-led coalition’s patron because it obviously is their biggest and most important patron. The U.S. is not a “hidden hand” behind the Saudi-led war. It is a very visible hand that everyone knows is there. The coalition bombs Yemen with U.S.-made munitions dropped from planes acquired from the U.S. that the U.S. military also refuels, and our government provides diplomatic cover for their activities so that they aren’t investigated when they kill civilians and our officials then make excuses for the coalition when civilians are killed. It doesn’t matter whether the U.S. is “formally” part of the coalition. For all practical purposes, Washington’s support is essential to the coalition’s war effort. Assuming that the Houthis were responsible for the failed attacks on U.S. ships in the Red Sea, they were presumably taking shots at American ships because of the extensive support our government has provided to the bombing campaign against them. The fiction that the U.S. isn’t a party to the war isn’t sustainable when our government is daily making the war possible with its assistance. If the administration is interested in bringing the war to an end and wants to reduce risks to U.S. forces in the area, it should cease backing the intervention that has evidently created new enemies that the U.S. didn’t have eighteen months ago.
Many reports on U.S. support for the war emphasize how grudgingly it has been given and how “uneasy” the administration supposedly is about providing it, but the fact remains that U.S. assistance has been steady and forthcoming from March 2015 until now. The administration didn’t have to provide this support, and it could have refused to offer it without any danger to the nuclear deal. Obama and his officials chose to do this because they wanted to appease the Saudis and the other Gulf states despite the fact that they weren’t part of the nuclear negotiations and couldn’t have done anything to prevent the deal from being completed. To make matters worse, the attempt to “reassure” Riyadh isn’t going to work in any case. We already know from past experience that client governments will always claim that they are being abandoned in the hope of securing more weapons and aid, and as long as Washington is eager to keep these clients satisfied the U.S. will find itself supporting all manner of stupid and destructive policies in the region. The war on Yemen is one of those, and thanks to U.S. support for it these client states will expect future administrations to indulge their worst instincts as well.