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Five Months of the War on Yemen

Nancy Youssef reports on how the war on Yemen is strengthening Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):

Not only is Saudi Arabia failing to stop the group’s expansion, but some fear the kingdom is colluding with AQAP to fight the Houthis, Iranian-backed rebels whom Saudi Arabia considers a bigger threat. Indeed, there have been reports that AQAP and Saudi Arabia worked together in the initial efforts last month to push the Houthis out of Aden.

The Saudis have made their priorities in the region very clear over the last few years, and combating jihadist groups hasn’t been one of them. Riyadh’s obsession with countering Iranian influence, real or imagined, has consistently taken precedence in both Syria and Yemen, so it should come as no surprise that the Saudis are at best indifferent to the empowerment of jihadist groups in both places and at worst are actively promoting that outcome. U.S. clients in the region are pursuing goals that are at odds with U.S. interests, and especially the case of Yemen they are waging a war that is detrimental to U.S. and regional security. By itself, that wouldn’t be all that surprising, but the remarkable thing is that the U.S. has been pleased to help them from the beginning of the intervention in March. Five months later, despite ample evidence of Saudi war crimes and the horrific effects of their blockade on the civilian population, the U.S. continues to lend aid to its awful clients. Our government is helping to batter and starve an entire country simply to placate a band of despots.

It is often assumed that U.S. support for the cruel and unnecessary Saudi intervention in Yemen is a trade-off to get their support for the nuclear deal, but if that is the real reason for it the administration has made a bad exchange. While it might be preferable to have Saudi and GCC support for the deal, that support isn’t needed. It certainly doesn’t justify backing an appalling war that is empowering some of our worst enemies.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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