Home/Daniel Larison/The U.S. Continues to Fuel the Unnecessary War on Yemen

The U.S. Continues to Fuel the Unnecessary War on Yemen

Kelley Vlahos reports on the new weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. The article includes some of my comments:

“By selling the Saudis the weapons included in the latest deal, the U.S. will be further implicated in possible war crimes committed in Yemen and it will be helping to fuel an unnecessary war,” charged Daniel Larison, senior editor at The American Conservative magazine.

“At the same time the Saudis are using U.S. weapons in Yemen, they and the other members of their coalition have withdrawn their small contributions to the campaign against ISIS and diverted their resources to the fight that they consider to be more important,” he added.

All that I would add to this is to repeat the observation that the Saudi-led coalition’s regional priorities are sharply at odds with Washington’s, and their fixation on Iran and its allies (real and imagined) and their sympathy for and complicity with jihadist groups make them useless and pernicious clients. Indulging the Saudis and their allies in their attack on Yemen remains one of the biggest errors that the Obama administration has made overseas, and it certainly stands out as the most cynical and indefensible. Even if the peace talks commencing in Switzerland this week lead to a sustained pause in the fighting, it will have come after almost nine months of a senseless and avoidable military intervention that our government had no business supporting.

Matt Purple also notes the contradiction between U.S. support for the war on Yemen and its desire to have the Saudis and other Gulf states contribute to the anti-ISIS coalition:

So to review, the United States is seeking to destroy Islamic extremists. It’s also abetting a war in Yemen that’s given elbow room to Islamic extremists and lured our allies away from the fight against Islamic extremists in Syria. This is what’s known among foreign policy scholars as “clinical insanity.”

It should be said here that the U.S. would have been wrong to help the Saudis and their allies in Yemen even if it didn’t come at the expense of their support for the war on ISIS, and it ought to cut off all support for the campaign in Yemen regardless of how much the Gulf states contribute to the other conflict. In any case, the reality is that the war on Yemen has greatly strengthened both the local Al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates to the long-term detriment of Yemen and the wider region. Once again, an ill-conceived, unnecessary war in the name of “stability” has sown more chaos and given a boost to terrorist groups. U.S. weapons, fuel, and intelligence help to keep that war going, and that support makes the disaster in Yemen partly our responsibility.

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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