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Shameful Western Spinning for the Saudis

Geoff Hoon makes [1] a bizarre and embarrassing argument in support of Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ahead of his visit to London:

So the real question for the protesters this week is: what are you asking Mohammed bin Salman to do, actually? Do you want the Saudi-led coalition to withdraw from Yemen unilaterally? The immediate consequences of this would be catastrophic for the country, Gulf region and perhaps wider world. Iran would build its Houthi clients into the predominant force in the country, turning them into a Hezbollah-style group with missiles lined up along Saudi’s long border with Yemen.

The Saudis and their allies should at a minimum halt their bombing campaign and lift their blockade. Full withdrawal would be ideal, but the core demands being made of the Saudi-led coalition are quite simple: stop starving the civilian population, stop preventing the delivery of aid and commercial imports, stop bombing civilian targets, and finally stop all hostilities so that a diplomatic solution might be found. Hoon must know this is what critics of the war are demanding, so his “question” is just a weak attempt to shut down criticism. The Houthis have not been and still are not an Iranian proxy, but the longer the war goes on the more incentive they have to deepen their relationship with Iran. The Saudis have been using the specter of Iranian “expansionism” as an excuse for their disastrous intervention for the last three years, and that propaganda is no more credible now than it was before.

It is hard to imagine how the consequences of coalition withdrawal could be more catastrophic for Yemen than their continued intervention and blockade have been. More than eight million Yemenis are on the verge of famine, millions more are malnourished, and the vast majority of the population is in need of some humanitarian assistance. As long as the Saudi-led coalition keeps waging its failed war, millions of Yemenis will continue to be deprived of basic necessities, famine and preventable disease will claim countless lives, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local ISIS affiliate will continue to flourish. Hoon disingenuously claims that coalition withdrawal would give Al Qaeda “a de-facto country the size of Switzerland in the Middle East,” but that isn’t true. It is the coalition’s intervention that has been a boon for AQAP, and it is the coalition that has been waging war against the Yemeni forces that have been most effective in opposing AQAP. The coalition’s intervention has further fractured and destabilized Yemen, and as long as that intervention continues the harm done to Yemen and the surrounding region will grow.

Hoon is counting on public ignorance to make the war on Yemen seem like something other than the unmitigated disaster that it is. Dishonest pro-Saudi commentary in the West like this is another reason why protests against Mohammed bin Salman’s visit are so important and necessary.

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5 Comments To "Shameful Western Spinning for the Saudis"

#1 Comment By William Burns On March 6, 2018 @ 2:56 pm

So Saudi withdrawal from Yemen will be followed by both an Iranian takeover and an Al Qaeda takeover? Wow!

#2 Comment By Jonathan Lester On March 6, 2018 @ 7:56 pm

Wonder what they’ll say when disaffected residents of the southern Saudi provinces start demanding a more representative government?

#3 Comment By Hi! I Lied You Into Iraq! Trust Me! On March 6, 2018 @ 10:57 pm

One is tempted to dismiss this Hoon character as a moron, ignoramus, or Saudi flack. The truth is simpler and amply explanatory. He’s a corrupt neoliberal interventionist. Not just any corrupt neoliberal interventionist. He was part of the Blair team that helped lie us into Iraq, Blair’s Defense Secretary, no less.

More recently he was kicked out of a NATO post for corruption.


Now he seems to have been reduced to flacking for MbS.

So here we are again. Despite Iraq, despite Libya, despite the catastrophe of Yemen, here comes yet another neolib or neocon holding forth as though he didn’t have a long, well-documented track record of dishonesty, incompetence, corruption, and serving foreign interests. And the global media – the same media that throws fits over “fake news” – lets them do it, over and over again.

#4 Comment By Wonders Never Cease On March 6, 2018 @ 11:43 pm

How does an obvious malefactor and loser like Hoon keep getting published, as though his opinion carries any weight whatsoever?

More generally, how do these corrupt, failed elites keep bouncing back?

#5 Comment By b. On March 7, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

Hoon is another of the claquers.

Do I want the Saudi-led coalition to withdraw from Yemen unilaterally? I want them to pay reparations, and I want the UAE to withdraw as well, and I want the record to show a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the US, UK, UAE, and Saudi Arabia as guilty of a war of aggression.

The perfidy of “humanitarian interventions” is that they produce exactly the suffering and the threats and blowback that they claim to prevent. The United States and the UK have become a “safe harbor” for autocrats and oligarchs that are willing and eager to inflict “terror” in “prompt global strikes” against any nation not in compliance, providing markets “opened” at gunpoint.

Any so-called international community deserving of the name would recognize this rogue criminality for what it is, and strive to do better than just ending – or reducing – the atrocities three years after the fact.

If there is one single, truly despicable act Russia and China deserve blame for, it is their refusal to challenge the US openly on grounds of violations of international law, in the UN General Assembly, under UN Resolution 377, setting a precedent that would, no doubt, restrict their own ability to act with impunity in their own “bubbles of influence”.

In the meantime, I would like to see less eyeball time directed to predictable purveyors of affirmation like Hoon, and more towards voices that offer a radical and principled criticism of the state of international “relations” based on the principles Justice Jackson established at Nuremberg.