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End the Wrecking and Starving of Yemen

Asher Orkaby reviews [1] the origins of the war on Yemen and describes the horrible humanitarian catastrophe that it has created. Here he notes that the Saudis’ justification for the intervention was made up to win international backing:

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab nations from the Gulf Cooperation Council launched a military campaign to push back the Houthis and restore the government. Saudi Arabia presented the intervention as a response to the threat of Iranian expansionism, arguing that the Houthis were effectively an Iranian proxy. This won it the support of other Arab countries and the United States. Yet Saudi rhetoric has grossly misrepresented Iran’s role in the conflict. Although some small arms and money have flowed from Iran to the Houthis, the amounts are not large, and there is no real Houthi-Iranian alliance [bold mine-DL].

It has been common in Western coverage of the war to frame it as a “proxy war” between the Saudis and Iran, and also to describe it primarily in sectarian terms, but both of these are inaccurate and have been promoted by the Saudis and their Western supporters to obscure the real reasons for the conflict. Hawkish supporters of the war on Yemen have been eager to echo Saudi claims about Iranian “expansionism” because it dovetails with their other alarmist claims about Iran’s role in the region, and it somehow makes the wrecking and starving of Yemen more acceptable to our political class if it is being done for anti-Iranian reasons. Regardless, the war is indefensible, and the U.S. should have no part in it. Because the U.S. has backed the war from the start, it is incumbent on our government and the public to bring it to an end and attempt to repair the damage that has been done to Yemen.

The famine and cholera crises that the Saudi-led campaign and blockade have caused are the worst in the world. Orkaby reminds us of the details:

The intervention, which began as a series of air strikes against Houthi military targets, has morphed into an attempt to destroy Yemen’s economic infrastructure in order to turn public opinion away from the Houthi movement and its anti-Saudi stance. Hospitals, factories, water mains, sewage facilities, bridges, and roads have all been demolished in bombing raids. The Saudi coalition, with help from the United States, has blockaded Yemen’s ports and rendered it dangerous for civilian aircraft to fly over the country, making it difficult for aid agencies or businesses to bring goods into Sanaa’s airport and for wounded Yemenis to go abroad for treatment [bold mine-DL].

Yemen’s economy, already weak, has collapsed under the pressure. For many Yemenis, buying food or medicine is now difficult or impossible. According to the UN, two-thirds of Yemen’s 28 million people face food shortages and do not have access to clean water. Seven million of them live in areas on the brink of famine, and nearly two million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished [bold mine-DL]. Without working public services, rubbish and sewage have piled up on the streets and leached into drinking wells. Since April, cholera, which spreads in contaminated water, has infected over 600,000 people, killing more than 2,000.

As Reuters reported [2] earlier this month, the widespread malnutrition and famine are the result [3] of the coalition blockade. The cholera epidemic has become even worse than it was when Orkaby was writing this, as there are now over 840,000 cases [4]. The Red Cross estimates that there will over one million by the end of the year, and that is probably a conservative estimate. Millions of lives are threatened by starvation and preventable disease, these crises are being caused in large part because of the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed campaign and blockade, and the suffering of the civilian population could be significantly ameliorated if those were brought to an end.

The Trump administration has shown no sign of halting its support for the coalition or pressuring the Saudis to end their failed war. If it is left up to the executive, U.S. support for the war will never end, and that is why Congress must assert itself to end our involvement. That is why it is imperative that the House pass H. Con. Res. 81 next month. The vote is expected to be held on November 2, so there is still time to contact your representatives and urge them to support the resolution. The House will have the opportunity to repudiate the disgraceful support that the U.S. has been providing to the coalition, and I urge them to take it.

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "End the Wrecking and Starving of Yemen"

#1 Comment By Christian Chuba On October 17, 2017 @ 11:09 am

I vividly recall the start of the Saudi bombing campaign when all of the news services echoed the claim that it was to ‘stabilize’ Yemen.

Hadi will never govern Yemen again. Hadi cannot even govern the area captured by the Saudi mercenaries. His unopposed election and subsequent term expired in 2014. He unilaterally extended it by 2yrs igniting the civil war. Haley glowed on her twitter page about her great visit with the President of Yemen. Her Twitter page always has an accompanying picture of these events, I cannot go there any more, it’s like getting clorox thrown in your face.

The Saudis are using a collaborator destroy his own country and we are helping the Saudis.

#2 Comment By And Yet It Continues On October 17, 2017 @ 11:12 am

“The Trump administration has shown no sign of halting its support for the coalition or pressuring the Saudis to end their failed war. “

… and this despite the fact that helping the Saudis wreck and starve Yemen was an Obama policy. For two years.

If there were ever an Obama policy one might have expected Trump to renounce and end, this is the one. He could do it with a phone call.

#3 Comment By b. On October 18, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

I think if there is a “litmus test” worth pursuing within the Democratic Party, Sanders could ask for nothing better.

Nobody will horse-ass-whisper the GPOTUSOAT to push Trump’s orange “Obaminem delendam est” button, because the US aid to Saudi Arabia is just to profitable, both for the service providers at the DoD and the contractors that supply the materiel. The Grand Unified Theory of US foreign policy remains “War!” as a perpetual device for the conversion of public tax revenue into private profit. Hence Yemen will remain among those “American interests” that national security and corporate body-counters are so keen to protect, at great cost to the US, and terminal costs to formerly sovereign nation states around the globe.