Ending U.S. Involvement Is Necessary for Peace in Yemen
Without U.S. support, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would likely be forced to end the war [bold mine-DL]. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is doubling down. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “if you truly care about Yemeni lives, you’d support the Saudi-led effort to prevent Yemen from turning into a puppet state” of Iran. He was parroting Riyadh’s propaganda: While the Houthis have been backed by Iran, they are a legitimate indigenous movement. It is Saudi Arabia, not Iran, that has long treated Yemen as a client state.
Supporters of the war on Yemen have staked out two contradictory positions when they have been trying to defeat antiwar resolutions in Congress. They claim that U.S. support is so limited and unimportant that cutting it off will make no difference, but in the next breath they insist that Congress absolutely must not cut off that support because of the harm that it will do to the Saudi coalition’s war effort. Hawks treat U.S. support as both trivial and essential at the same time, and they move back and forth between the two positions when it suits them. The truth is that the Saudi coalition war has relied on U.S. support all along, and supporters of the war don’t want to cut off that support because they want the Saudi coalition to be able to continue fighting. No one who genuinely wants peace in Yemen thinks that the U.S. should keep backing the war, and without peace Yemen’s humanitarian crisis will keep getting worse.
Last Friday, Pompeo followed up his parroting of Saudi propaganda with an absurd statement that the U.S. should keep backing the coalition until they achieve military victory:
The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace.
After four years of grinding, desultory warfare, no one believes that the Saudi coalition is going to defeat the Houthis outright. Pursuing that unrealistic goal has destroyed Yemen and starved its people, and continuing to pursue it at this point is madness. A just peace would be ideal, but seeking a Saudi coalition victory has nothing to do with justice or peace. The U.S. is on the side of the aggressors in this war, and there won’t be an just or sustainable peace in Yemen as long as Yemen’s neighbors keep attacking, blockading, and occupying Yemen. Ending U.S. involvement won’t produce peace in Yemen by itself, but unless we do that there is very little chance of an enduring peace in Yemen.