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The Worsening War on Yemen

The war on Yemen continues to get worse:

Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 80 people near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia and in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, residents said, the deadliest day of bombing in over two months of war in Yemen.

Despite nine weeks of bombing, the Saudis are no closer to achieving any of their stated goals than they were when they began their campaign. The Los Angeles Timesreports:

Saudi-led air campaign targeting Shiite Muslim rebels in Yemen is entering its third month with little substantive military progress to show for relentless bombardment that has killed at least 1,800 people, ravaged an already impoverished country’s infrastructure and triggered a far-reaching humanitarian disaster.

The war’s ostensible objectives were never likely to be achieved. Restoring Hadi was never going to happen once he was seen as a cheerleader for the campaign that is destroying his country. That has not stopped the Saudis from persisting in their senseless and indefensible campaign. The death toll continues to climb from continued Saudi attacks, and as the article goes on to explain it may be much higher than the current official estimates:

Because so many areas are cut off by fighting, an accurate death toll has been difficult to compile. However, residents believe the figure is far higher than the more than 1,800 estimated by international organizations [bold mine-DL]. At least 135 of those fatalities were children, the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, said this week.

As harmful as the bombings have been, the effects of the blockade on the entire country will be worse over the longer term. The Red Cross has warned of the danger to the civilian population from the shortages created by the Saudi-led blockade:

Only 5-10 percent of usual imports has entered Yemen over the past two months of the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people, he said. Food prices have soared.

“If there is no fuel there will be no water very soon, and if this is the case we have thousands of people, if not millions, at risk because there is no access to water,” Schweizer said.

As the L.A. Times report notes, the lack of access to clean water endangers the civilian population in another way:

The British aid agency Oxfam said Tuesday that at least 16 million Yemenis — nearly two-thirds of the population — now lack access to clean water and sanitation, setting the stage for a potentially catastrophic outbreak of disease [bold mine-DL].

There is real danger of massive loss of life in Yemen, and if it happens it will have been caused almost entirely by the Saudi-led intervention. The U.S. continues to back this disgraceful war and is partly responsible for its effects. Obama has made serious mistakes in foreign policy before, but supporting the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen has been the most shameful and most easily avoidable error that he has made.

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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