Home/Daniel Larison/No End to the War on Yemen in Sight

No End to the War on Yemen in Sight

The Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war on Yemen keeps going:

In addition to the bombings in Sana, the capital, which struck a military base and the presidential palace, the coalition carried out airstrikes in several other provinces, suggesting a broadening, rather than a scaling back, of the month-long Saudi air offensive against Houthi rebels [bold mine-DL].

The Saudis are no nearer their original goals than when they began, but it seems that they have trapped themselves into persisting with a campaign that no one expects to succeed for fear of having to admit that the intervention was a mistake all along. While there has been some criticism of the effects of the war, the U.S. and the Saudis’ other partners continue to back the campaign fully. There is insufficient pressure on the Saudi leadership to get them to halt the bombing. That will certainly remain the case as long as the U.S. lends its support to the attack. There is no guarantee that withdrawing U.S. support would change Saudi behavior, but there is even less chance that the bombing and the blockade will end when the Saudis can count on assistance from Washington.

The war on Yemen has been all the more horrible because it is so completely unnecessary. According to one new report, the Saudi-led campaign may not only have intensified the conflict inside Yemen, but it also may have prevented a deal from being made that could have stopped the conflict all together. The Wall Street Journalreported yesterday that the Saudi campaign derailed talks on a power-sharing agreement:

Yemen’s warring political factions were on the verge of a power-sharing deal when Saudi-led airstrikes began a month ago, derailing the negotiations, the United Nations envoy who mediated the talks said.

It’s possible that the envoy is overstating how close the different sides were to making a deal, but it is also possible that the Saudi campaign wrecked the best chance that Yemen had for reaching a political settlement. If that’s the case, the war on Yemen is even worse than anyone thought.

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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