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The U.S. Is Deeply Complicit in the Wrecking of Yemen

Jonah Shepp does a fine job summarizing [1] the destruction caused by the war on Yemen and U.S. complicity in that destruction:

Both of these crises are entirely man-made. The famine in Yemen is not a consequence of drought or crop failure — indeed, in recent decades Yemen has shifted most of its agricultural land to growing the stimulant drug qat and other cash crops, and imports almost 90 percent of its food. Rather, the famine is the intentional result of a two-year blockade imposed on the country by Saudi Arabia, with the help of its allies, including the U.S., in a deliberate effort to starve the rebel-held areas into submission. The ruthless siege tactics of the Saudi-led coalition are also directly to blame for the cholera outbreak. Saudi Arabia has targeted civilian areas with its bombs, destroying vital infrastructure like hospitals and water systems [bold mine-DL]. Dr. Homer Venters, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, says we are witnessing the “weaponization of disease” in Yemen, as well as in Syria.

I recommend reading the entire article. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with virtually everything he mentions, but it is very well done. It is always good when the war and humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen get more coverage, but unfortunately Shepp’s article is notable for being one of the very few pieces of commentary on the war in recent months. It also stands out for being one of the very few pieces that holds the Saudi-led coalition and their Western backers responsible for causing most of the damage to the country.

As Shepp goes on to explain, one reason that the U.S. can get away with enabling these disasters is that there continues to be remarkably little coverage of the war and its effects. Because of that, there is little awareness of the U.S. role and hardly any pressure on the government to change its policy. The Saudis and their allies have sought to make it very difficult for foreign journalists and human rights activists to enter the country, but even without their interference the level of outside interest in the conflict remains quite low despite the severity of the humanitarian crises that it has created.


Shepp says that the “U.S. cannot sidestep its own complicity in this carnage,” but that doesn’t stop our government from trying to do just that. One of the more infuriating tactics of U.S. officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations has been to pretend that the U.S. isn’t party to the conflict, doesn’t have much influence over the Saudi-led coalition, and supposedly favors a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Just the other day, PRI published a report [2] that quoted the current U.S. ambassador as saying that “we don’t have leverage” with Riyadh. This is pathetic excuse-making at its worst. It dresses up the choice of not using the leverage Washington definitely has as if our government had none at all to use.

One recurring theme over the last two and a half years of U.S. support for the atrocious war on Yemen is that most of the U.S. officials can’t or won’t defend U.S. policy or the coalition war effort, and so they keep hiding behind a made-up version of events that they can present to audiences back home. Thus our current ambassador incredibly claims that “the conflict in Yemen is not a conflict between Saudis and Yemenis.” I’m sure that would come as news to the Yemenis that come under regular aerial attack from Saudi-led coalition planes and the millions of people being starved by the Saudi-led blockade. Minimizing even Saudi involvement in their own intervention is what our officials are reduced to doing, perhaps because the alternative of acknowledging their culpability and ours [3] for destroying Yemen is too embarrassing for them.

The wrecking and starvation of Yemen are the result of more than two years of deliberate coalition policy with the full backing of our government. It is probably the only Obama-era policy that Trump has no intention of undoing. That reminds us that this policy is the product of reflexive, bipartisan support for bad client governments in that part of the world. Because Washington continues to indulge those clients, our government has made the U.S. partly responsible for creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives of millions of innocents.

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "The U.S. Is Deeply Complicit in the Wrecking of Yemen"

#1 Comment By Oslo Syndrome On August 9, 2017 @ 10:03 am

“It is probably the only Obama-era policy that Trump has no intention of undoing. “

I just don’t get this. It is such an easy win for Trump – all he has to do is drop support for what the Saudis are doing to Yemen.

It would appeal to both his vanity and to the humanitarian streak briefly on view after Ivanka showed him those pictures of the Syrian kids supposedly killed in an Assad chemical weapons attack.

Indeed, Trump could actually earn a Nobel Peace Prize. Wouldn’t Trump savor the implied rebuke to Obama, who got a Peace Prize going in for doing nothing and then went on to become an even bigger and bloodier war president than G. W. Bush?

Think of it: Donald John Trump, who helped end the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, saving hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives.

C’mon, White House staffers, dangle that in front of the Donald. Help him see his way clear to doing something worthwhile for himself, for America, and for the suffering people of Yemen!

#2 Comment By James Hartwick On August 9, 2017 @ 1:28 pm

I read the NYMag article and also a couple more that it linked to, discussing (among other things) why there is so little information coming out of Yemen. (Short version: Yemen is far less developed than, say, Syria, and so doesn’t have the Internet infrastructure to get past the blockade.)

Keep these Yemen articles coming.

#3 Comment By Richard W. Bray On August 9, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

The Russia, Russia, Russia crowd is reluctant to talk about these hideous crimes against Yemen.

That’s probably because this would cast our previous president in a negative light. And these people tend to be almost physiologically incapable of believing Obama could ever do something so horrible.

President Hope and Change is a master at manipulating the credulity of his willfully naive followers.