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The War on Yemen and Al Qaeda

The temporary truce in Yemen ended almost as soon as it began:

At least 10 people were killed in air strikes overnight in Yemen, relatives and medical sources said, as a Saudi-led coalition continued bombing the capital on Sunday in violation of a temporary humanitarian truce.

The failure of the truce is very unfortunate, since it will deprive Yemenis of even the brief respite that they might have had this week. This should drive home that the Saudi-led coalition is indifferent to the humanitarian catastrophe that it has done so much to create, but then that can hardly surprise anyone at this point. The Saudis’ war is failing to achieve any of the goals they set out for it, but the civilian population is undoubtedly the greatest loser in this conflict. As Bruce Riedel explains here, the only winners are jihadists:

The war in Yemen has one local winner, Al Qaeda. The Saudis seem oddly unconcerned.

The only thing I would add here is that the Saudis’ lack of concern with this outcome should not be seen as odd, but rather as entirely consistent with the priorities they have been setting for the last several years. The Saudis and their Gulf allies have had no problem aiding jihadist and Islamist groups in Syria so long as they were hostile to the Assad regime, and they are likewise indifferent to the gains being made by AQAP and even by would-be ISIS supporters in Yemen so long as they believe that these groups are hostile to the Houthis and Iran. It has become impossible to miss that the Saudis are so obsessed with the specter of Iranian “expansionism” that they have subordinated their other concerns to this paranoid effort. This has created the absurd situation in which the U.S. is helping the Saudis to attack AQAP’s enemies while leaving the jihadists largely untouched. Just as we have seen in our other unnecessary wars in the last fifteen years, the Saudis’ war is benefiting no one except jihadists, and yet again Washington is backing an interventionist policy that is making the U.S. and its allies less secure.

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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