Home/Daniel Larison/The War on Yemen and Trump’s Distorting Iran Obsession

The War on Yemen and Trump’s Distorting Iran Obsession

Trump’s statement on the nuclear deal last week included a ridiculous ultimatum that the other P5+1 governments will ignore, and it also contained a significantly misleading description of the ongoing disaster in Yemen created by the U.S.-backed coalition war there:

We are countering Iranian proxy wars in Yemen and Syria.

Describing the war in Yemen as an “Iranian proxy war” is misleading in itself, since the role of Iran in the conflict has been and continues to be negligible, especially when compared to the major direct intervention of the Saudis and their allies backed by the U.S. and other Western governments. Despite limited Iranian support for the Houthis, the latter aren’t Iran’s proxies and have their own agenda defined by local concerns. Inasmuch as Iranian influence in Yemen has grown from what it was two and a half years ago, that is a result of the calamitous Saudi-led intervention and not the real reason for it.

Claiming that the U.S. is “countering” something that barely exists is another example of how this administration faithfully echoes Saudi talking points. Framing U.S. policy in Yemen as “countering” Iran not only misrepresents the nature of the conflict and the extent of Iran’s involvement, but it deliberately obscures the huge role that the U.S. and its clients have had in creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there. U.S. support for the war on Yemen has done enormous harm to the people of Yemen and has done nothing to advance U.S. interests in the slightest, but the administration’s Iran obsession keeps it going.

Trump can’t honestly defend U.S. policy in Yemen, because that policy amounts to aiding and abetting Saudi war crimes and enabling the worst modern famine in decades. Instead, he dresses up an indefensible policy as something very different from what it is and hopes that no one is paying close enough attention to notice the deception.

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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