Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) says that he is determined to keep waging the failed war on Yemen. He addresses the war in an interview with Reuters:
Q: Any change of heart on policy in Yemen?
“If we want to create another Hezbollah in the Middle East, then let’s change our policy in Yemen.”
Q: You’re pursuing until the end?
“We’re pursuing until we can be sure that nothing will happen there like Hezbollah again, because Yemen is more dangerous than Lebanon. It’s next to Bab al-Mandab so if something happens there, that means 10 percent of world trade stops. This is the crisis.”
The absurdity of MBS’ position is that the longer the Saudis and their allies wreck and starve Yemen, the more likely it is that they turn the Houthis into the Iranian proxy that Riyadh claims to fear. They aren’t preventing that outcome by persisting in an atrocious war that they can’t win. If anything, they are helping to bring it about. Besides, there has been no danger to commercial shipping, so it is fatuous to argue that the war has something to do with protecting international trade. MBS mentions this to frighten Western audiences into thinking that there is some legitimate reason for the war being waged on Yemen, but it isn’t true. MBS’ reputation is wrapped up with the war, so he has to keep pretending that it is worth fighting or admit that he and his father made a major blunder.
To be clear, the Houthis weren’t an Iranian proxy before the intervention and they still aren’t now. Claiming that the attack on Yemen was aimed at opposing Iranian influence was a lie to provide political cover for an indefensible war. MBS is leaning even more heavily on this lie now because there is increased international scrutiny of the conduct of the war and growing opposition to it in Congress. It is important that members of Congress see through these false claims and realize that there is no good reason to continue supporting the Saudi-led war.
Regrettably, the interview ends with those last two questions quoted above, so there are no follow-up questions that would have forced MBS to address the story also reported by Reuters about the devastating humanitarian effects of the Saudi-led blockade. It would have been valuable to confront him with the staggering human costs of the war he has been running for the last two and a half years and the coalition’s responsibility for causing widespread starvation and disease. Whatever phony justifications for the war he may offer, there is nothing he can say that will justify what has been done to the civilian population of Yemen.