Home/Daniel Larison/The Outrageous U.S. Role in the War on Yemen

The Outrageous U.S. Role in the War on Yemen

Rolling Stonereports on Saudi war crimes in Saada province in northern Yemen. Here the report mentions how the U.S. role in the campaign is perceived by Yemenis:

Many of Saudi Arabia’s weapons and aircraft were purchased from the U.S. We have encountered remnants of both conventional and cluster bombs likely made in the U.S.A., including BU-97 cluster bomb submunitions, which were transferred to Saudi Arabia by the U.S. in the Nineties. The U.S. has also provided both in-flight refueling and targeting intelligence to bombing missions. As a result, there is a widespread perception among the Yemenis that the American government is equally responsible for the air war.

If the U.S. isn’t “equally” responsible for the war, it certainly deserves a substantial share of the blame. Yemenis have good reason to hold the U.S. responsible for the war that has devastated their country. The U.S. is particularly responsible for the campaign’s attacks on civilian areas because it is actively aiding the Saudis in their operations. U.S. officials are understandably embarrassed to talk about this. Micah Zenko flagged a remarkable recent statement from the State Department’s spokesman. When asked about reports of Saudi war crimes and the targeting of civilian areas, the spokesman did his best to dodge the question:

We remain in close touch with the Saudi Government regarding a wide range of issues. With respect to Yemen, I’d refer you to them for discussion of their operational details. That’s really for – that’s really for the Saudi Government to speak to. And we take all accounts and reports of civilian casualties seriously, and again, have been very clear about our desire to see a humanitarian pause.

When pressed on the current level of assistance that the U.S. is providing, the spokesman again ducked the question and referred the reporter to the Pentagon. The U.S. is facilitating a war that has killed and wounded thousands of civilians, but wants to make it seem as if it has no responsibility for the campaign’s effects. U.S. officials claim that our government favors an end to hostilities, but U.S. assistance with the campaign continues unabated. Despite professions of “concern” about the civilian casualties caused by the bombing campaign, clear evidence of repeated indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas hasn’t altered the U.S. position one bit. One of the most maddening things about U.S. involvement in this war is that it has absolutely nothing to do with U.S. security, and it has been done largely to try to placate a group of horrible authoritarian clients by indulging their paranoid fears.

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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