The U.S. Must Stop Enabling the Destruction of Yemen
Bruce Riedel reviews the effects of the unnecessary, atrocious war on Yemen after almost two years:
The Yemeni people were the poorest in the Arab world before the war. Now, according to UNICEF, a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from severe malnutrition and other problems linked to the war and the Saudi blockade of the north. Many others are stunted for life by malnutrition. The humanitarian costs are staggering and they will have a long political legacy.
When the Saudi-led intervention began in March 2015, Yemen experts warned of the humanitarian disaster that would follow, and very soon after that the disaster began to unfold. Today Yemen suffers from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in terms of the number of people who are threatened by starvation and preventable disease. The vast majority of Yemen’s 27 million people needs humanitarian aid, and at least half of them are starving or close to it. The U.S. has enabled the Saudis and their allies to do this, and continues to back them as they work to create what may be one of the worst modern man-made famines.
The coalition blockade and its indiscriminate bombing campaign have worked together to bring Yemen to its current state. We got another glimpse of that recently. The coalition had bombed the cranes at the port of Hodeidah early in the war, which severely limited the supplies that could be offloaded there. Since then, The U.N. had hoped to bring in mobile replacement cranes to facilitate more aid, but instead the Saudis have continued bombing the port and the surrounding area. Over the weekend, coalition planes bombed a market in a smaller port town nearby a few days ago and killed nearly two dozen civilians. The coalition starves the civilian population, and then attacks civilian targets, and this has been going on regularly for the last two years with our government’s support and approval. Every indication from the Trump administration to date has been that it will continue with this indefensible policy and possibly intensify it.
Riedel says near the end that “[t]he prime American interest is to help our oldest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, find a way out of a conflict that is not working out in its own interests,” but at this point that isn’t true. The prime American interest after the last two years of this disgraceful war is to recognize that the Saudis aren’t really an ally at all and to extricate ourselves from the noxious relationship we have with Riyadh as quickly as we can. In the absence of U.S. backing, the Saudis and their allies will be hard-pressed to continue their failed war, and will have to come to terms with their enemies sooner rather than later. Attacking Yemen was never going to “work out” in Saudi Arabia’s interests, and the U.S. should want nothing to do with a reckless government that imagined that it would.