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Hook’s Despicable Yemen Propaganda

Brian Hook spouts the usual administration propaganda about Yemen:

The media has done a poor job of reporting on Iran’s role in intensifying and prolonging the tragic conflict in Yemen. This has allowed Iran to escape blame for the violence, famine and human suffering, which have become the Iranian regime’s leading exports.

Blaming Iran for the harm done to Yemen by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition is the administration’s most sickening rhetorical maneuver, and it is also one of their most common. It is profoundly dishonest. The administration seeks to pin the catastrophe in Yemen on a government that has virtually nothing to do with it while letting the genuinely guilty parties off the hook. Of course, the U.S. government has not been an impartial bystander to this conflict, but an active participant in it from March 2015 on. For our government to lay the blame for “violence, famine and human suffering” at anyone else’s feet is the most shameless deception.

It is the Saudi coalition that has blockaded Yemen for more than four years, and it is the Saudi coalition and the “legitimate” government of Yemen that have waged economic war against the majority of the population. Millions of Yemenis are starving and many tens of thousands have already perished from starvation because of Saudi coalition actions and policies. Iran’s role in the conflict remains limited, but it has increased over time in response to the continued bombing campaign that just the other day slaughtered at least 130 people held in a Houthi-run prison. No one in the Trump administration can tell the truth about who is responsible for most of the civilian deaths in the conflict, because that implicates the U.S. in those deaths on account of our ongoing support for the coalition’s bombing campaign. Hook has to deflect attention to Iran because our own Yemen policy is so despicable and indefensible that no one can honestly support it.

Hook faults “the media” for not reporting more on Iran’s role, but news reporting doesn’t say much about this because Iran doesn’t have much of a role. In fact, a lot of stories inaccurately frame the conflict as a “proxy war” or even a sectarian war in a way that exaggerates Iran’s involvement and presents it as if it were on par with the role of the Saudis and Emiratis when it definitely isn’t. Obsessing over Iran’s role in Yemen is always a dead giveaway that the person doing the obsessing doesn’t understand Yemen or the origins of the conflict. The truth is that the Houthis seized Sanaa against Iranian advice, and while they receive some assistance from Iran they are not controlled from Tehran and they are fighting the war for their own reasons. Iran is not the government responsible for millions of starving Yemeni children, and it is not the one that blows up school buses, hospitals, homes, markets, prisons, farms, and fishing boats. The Saudi and UAE governments, backed and armed by the U.S., are the ones that have been doing that for more than four years, and the Trump administration continues backing them to the hilt even now.

In Hook’s case, he is desperate to shoehorn Yemen into his preferred narrative with no regard for accuracy. A government official actually wrote these words:

The world must come to terms with Iran’s ambitions and counter them, or the Iranian Crescent will soon enough become a full moon.

This is nonsense, but it can be used to sell a reckless policy of confrontation towards Iran, and in the meantime the people of Yemen are being forced to suffer because of Washington’s vendetta against Iran that has nothing to do with them. Hook’s op-ed is pure propaganda from someone tasked with justifying the administration’s cruel and unjust Iran policy, and it is just the latest sign that this administration will persist in its monstrous support for the war on Yemen no matter what. Congress has to shut down U.S. support for the war on Yemen, because it is clear that the ideology-addled officials in this administration never will.

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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