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Home/Daniel Larison/The War on Yemen and Our Useless Regional Clients

The War on Yemen and Our Useless Regional Clients

When the U.S. started bombing ISIS last year, the administration claimed to have the support of a “broad coalition” that included a number of Washington’s Gulf client states. The “broad coalition” was never as broad as Obama claimed, nor did its members contribute very much, but there was at least some support being offered by regional governments. In practice, the war on ISIS was always predominantly a U.S. operation, but since the war on Yemen began it has become even more so:

Less well publicised has been the fact that the contribution to the anti-Islamic State coalition of the Gulf states has been withdrawn and relocated to Khamis Mushait, near the Saudi border with Yemen, so that Riyadh and its regional allies can prosecute an air campaign against Houthi rebels and those parts of the Yemeni security forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

This illustrates very nicely what the priorities of the Gulf client states are, and those priorities don’t include assisting the U.S. in fighting jihadists in their region. It has been fairly clear in both Syria and Yemen for some time that the Saudis and their Gulf allies are far more concerned to target anyone they perceive to be supported by Iran, and they are only too happy to help jihadists directly or indirectly along the way. That is why they concentrate their efforts on wrecking Yemen in the name of combating phantom Iranian “expansionism” while leaving AQAP untouched, and that is why they have diverted their forces away from the fight against ISIS to the war on Yemen.

Nothing could better demonstrate how unreliable and undeserving of U.S. support the Gulf clients are. The U.S. helps them carry out their appalling and indefensible campaign in Yemen, and at the same time the U.S. expected to take on the responsibility for fighting ISIS that properly belongs to the governments in the region. This is not evidence of U.S. “indispensability” so much as it is proof of our government’s unending gullibility in letting client governments get whatever they want at our expense.

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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