Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Wants Safe Zones in Yemen?

Trump Wants Safe Zones in Yemen?

Micah Zenko flagged this report on a call between Trump and the Saudi king:

“The president requested, and the King agreed, to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen [bold mine-DL], as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the statement said.

Zenko asks many good questions about how these safe zones would work, including the very important question of who is responsible for guarding them: “Critically, who provides the ground forces to enforce and patrol the safe zones?” Safe zones in Syria have been and remain a bad idea for many reasons, not least of which is the likelihood that U.S. forces would be sent to occupy parts of Syria for years to come. The inclusion of Yemen here is something new for Trump, and it makes even less sense than his support for Syrian safe zones. There is no doubt that Yemeni civilians are threatened, but one of the principal threats to the civilian population is the Saudi-led war effort that has wrecked the country’s infrastructure and brought its people to the brink of famine. Are safe zones in Yemen going to protect against that? No, of course they aren’t.

I am struck by the sheer absurdity of the idea that the Saudis could or would create safe zones in a country that they and their allies have spent the last two years destroying with U.S. and British backing. The best thing the Saudis and their allies could do for Yemen is to stop bombing and blockading it and to give up on their failed war. Talk of creating safe zones implies that Saudi intervention in Yemen would continue indefinitely. Most likely, the coalition would just keep doing what they’re doing to Yemen’s civilian population while claiming to be establishing supposed safe zones that are nothing of the kind. At worst, this would mean a significant increase in U.S. military involvement in Yemen while doing nothing to address the worsening humanitarian catastrophe there. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues its shameful support for the indefensible war on Yemen.

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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