The Man-Made Catastrophe in Yemen: Made Possible By the U.S. and U.K.
The Postreports on Yemen’s worsening humanitarian crisis:
“This is no accidental disaster — it is a man-made disaster driven by national and international politics,” Katy Wright, the head of advocacy for Oxfam said last week in a statement, referring to the cholera crisis. “In backing this war with billions of dollars of arms sales and military support the U.S. and the U.K. are complicit in the suffering of millions of people in Yemen.”
Readers of this blog know all of this very well already, but it bears repeating. I keep emphasizing the role of Western support for the war because it tends to be neglected in much of the coverage, and because it is crucial that the American and British publics hold their governments accountable for enabling this catastrophe. It is also important to remember that the Saudi-led coalition war effort depends to a large degree on U.S. and U.K. support, and if that support were withdrawn the coalition would be under much greater pressure to come to terms with their enemies. Contrary to official claims, the U.S. has considerable leverage with the leading coalition governments, especially the Saudis, and could press for a halt to the fighting and an end to the blockade if it chose to do so. The fact that both the Obama and Trump administrations did not choose to do this is an enduring mark of shame in the annals of U.S. foreign policy.
The point is not just that the U.S. and U.K. are complicit in the coalition’s wrongdoing and the humanitarian disaster engulfing Yemen, but that both the war and the humanitarian crisis would also be much less severe if those governments had not supported the coalition to the hilt for two and a half years. Our governments’ responsibility is greater because their assistance is so essential to making the coalition campaign possible. Despite lame denials that they are not parties to the conflict, the U.S. and U.K. provide the coalition the means to wage a war they could not otherwise fight. Perversely, both Washington and London pretend that the weapons they sell to the Saudis and their allies are for “self-defense” when they are clearly used for everything but that.