Home/Daniel Larison/The Saudis’ Cruel Collective Punishment of Yemen

The Saudis’ Cruel Collective Punishment of Yemen

A Houthi missile reached the Saudi capital of Riyadh over the weekend. The Saudi-led coalition is responding by tightening its existing blockade with the shutting of all Yemeni ports:

The Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite rebels in Yemen closed off the land, sea and air ports to the Arab world’s poorest country early Monday after a missile targeted Riyadh

The coalition blockade was already starving the population and impeding the delivery of aid before now. Completely closing all of Yemen’s ports will magnify the country’s humanitarian crisis, which was already the worst in the world. The Saudi-led coalition’s reaction is excessive and a blatant violation of international law. It is a cruel example of collective punishment in response to a lone missile attack. Starvation and preventable disease will claim the lives of many innocent Yemeni civilians because of the coalition’s response.

U.S. law requires that our government halt military assistance to governments that prevent the delivery of U.S.-funded humanitarian aid. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) has raised this point before in connection with the coalition’s refusal to permit the delivery of cranes to the port of Hodeidah. There is no question that completely shutting Yemen off from the outside world constitutes a hindrance to the delivery of aid. Our government’s support for the war has not been authorized by Congress and it also violates the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. That support must end.

The missile attack and the Saudi response to it illustrate very well the stupidity of the war on Yemen. Saudi territory was not under attack when the intervention began two and a half years ago, and their capital certainly wasn’t threatened. After thirty months of relentlessly and indiscriminately bombing Yemen’s cities and towns, Riyadh itself is now coming under attack. The war on Yemen has devastated Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, but it has also worsened Saudi Arabia’s own security. Instead of recognizing that the coalition’s war has failed, the Saudis and their allies are compounding their earlier mistakes by intensifying a blockade that had already created major famine and cholera crises. Unable to prevail in their senseless war, the coalition chooses to tighten its grip on the throats of a vulnerable, impoverished population. The Saudi-led coalition has just made their indefensible war even more obnoxious and cruel.

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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