Home/Daniel Larison/The U.S. Continues Its Shameful Support for the War on Yemen

The U.S. Continues Its Shameful Support for the War on Yemen

The Obama administration is making minimal changes to U.S. support for the war on Yemen:

The Obama administration will curtail some intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia following a review of military assistance, an official said, but it will expand support in other areas [bold mine-DL] despite intense criticism of Saudi strikes on civilians during the Kingdom’s air war in Yemen.

The carrot-and-stick approach reflects an attempt by U.S. officials, increasingly uncomfortable with support for an operation that has been widely condemned by rights groups, to distance themselves from the Yemen campaign without alienating a core Middle Eastern ally.

These small changes won’t halt the shameful enabling of the Saudi-led war, nor will they force the coalition to end their campaign. Modest tweaks to a disgraceful policy don’t address the core problem with U.S. support for the war. The U.S. is aiding and abetting its clients in committing war crimes in an intervention it should never have backed, and it will continue to do so even after these changes are made. The most important practical assistance that the U.S. provides to the coalition is refueling of their jets, and that will continue as before:

In an indication of the difficulty of disentangling support for operations targeting Houthis within Yemen from those defending Saudi borders, the United States will continue to use its tanker aircraft to refuel Saudi planes midair, which has been a major component of U.S. assistance to the Yemen operation.

If the administration were serious about reining in the coalition’s abuses and expressing displeasure about their disregard for civilian lives, it would severely curtail or eliminate the refueling of coalition planes. We have seen for over twenty months that the administration isn’t serious about doing this, and remains committed to “reassuring” despotic clients at the expense of Yemeni civilian lives. Half-hearted, belated gestures like these in the closing weeks of Obama’s presidency don’t change that.

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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