The War on Yemen Keeps Getting Worse
The Saudi-led war on Yemen is about to get much worse:
The Ekhbariya TV said the Saudi-led coalition has declared the rebel stronghold of Saada a war zone and said all of its territory would from now on be considered a “military target,” urging all civilians to leave by 7 p.m. local time on Friday.
This ultimatum comes in response to Houthi attacks on Saudi territory, which is itself retaliation for Saudis’ bombing of Yemen for the last six weeks. The “warning” that the Saudis have given is effectively useless for the civilians in this area, since there couldn’t possibly be enough time for a mass evacuation. Regardless, the countrywide fuel shortage caused by the Saudi-led campaign would make it all but impossible to relocate hundreds of thousands of people in a timely fashion. The Saudis are just creating an excuse in advance for the large numbers of civilians their new attacks are very likely to kill. The Saudis and their allies don’t get to decide that noncombatants are legitimate targets. If they go ahead and treat the entire area as a military target, they will be committing serious crimes. The war on Yemen has been a disgraceful and reckless intervention from the start, and it is about to become even more appalling.
Obviously, the U.S. should at the very least halt any assistance it is providing to the Saudis, and it should make clear to all of the representatives of the GCC at the upcoming summit that their chances of gaining any additional U.S. support will worsen dramatically if their war on Yemen continues. I don’t expect that to happen, but it would be the appropriate response. All of this comes just a day after the U.S. had supposedly persuaded the Saudis to agree to a humanitarian “pause” in their attacks. That seems to be the way this war is going to keep going: the Saudis will claim to want to scale back their attacks on Yemen, and then they will resume and even increase them on some pretext.