Yemen Isn’t ‘Getting Better’, It’s on the Edge of Famine
Among other things that he said during his bizarre press conference, Trump rambled inanely about the nuclear deal and Yemen:
Iran is a very special place, but I think there’s been no country that’s changed so much as Iran. In the last six months since I took off the horrible Iran nuclear deal as they called it, one of the dumbest deals ever made — as an example, why didn’t they take care of Yemen in the deal? Why didn’t they take care of Syria in the deal? You know what Kerry said the reason? It was too complicated. We are giving $150 billion, we paid $108 billion in cash. This room would be filled with $100 bills, and you probably would need five rooms like this. Why didn’t we take care of Yemen and Syria. He said because it was too complicated. Well, you just gave all of your cards. You gave them $150 billion and now Yemen is a mess, but it is getting better [bold mine-DL].
To the extent that we can make any sense of this gibberish, Trump seems to think that the P5+1 should have wasted their time trying to include peace settlements for the region’s two biggest conflicts at the same time that they were negotiating a nonproliferation agreement. Trump looks at two fruitless diplomatic efforts to resolve ongoing wars and wonders why the governments involved didn’t try to shoehorn them into an already challenging negotiation on the nuclear issue. Further, he seems to be under the impression that Iran was somehow in a position to negotiate on behalf of anyone in Yemen. That unsurprisingly betrays complete ignorance of Yemeni politics and the real causes of the conflict. He then repeats the false claim that Iran received $150 billion as a result of the deal, which both grossly inflates the amount of sanctions relief Iran actually received and misses that the money was always Iran’s. No money was ever “given” to Iran. The U.S. either freed up frozen Iranian assets or paid Iran for old debts, but there were no gifts of money in any form. Trump has been repeating this particular lie for more than two years, and it is on the basis of such ridiculous and unfounded claims that he made the decision to renege on a successful nonproliferation agreement.
Finally, Trump is so hopelessly clueless about the relevant issues that he thinks that Yemen is “getting better” at a time when all aid agencies are declaring to anyone who will listen that the country is on the precipice of famine. The U.S. is warning about the ensuing massive loss of life that will follow if something isn’t done to reverse what is happening. Eight million people are on the verge of famine, and the U.N. estimates that another ten million could join them by the end of the year if conditions do not improve. The U.N. humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, warns that they are “losing the fight against famine” in the country, and things could get dramatically worse at any time:
“One of the things about what happens in famines is there’s a sudden collapse of which you get no notice,” Lowcock, the UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, told the Guardian on the eve of a UN general assembly meeting on Monday to discuss the Yemeni crisis. “When the collapse happens, it’s too late to do anything. There’s a huge loss of life very, very quickly. So that’s the issue we’re flagging.”
It doesn’t really matter why Trump says something obviously false and misleading about something as important as the situation in Yemen. It is just more proof that the administration isn’t going to do anything to stave off the famine that threatens to devour countless innocent lives. The House needs to pass H.Con.Res. 138 without delay and force an end to U.S. involvement in the war, and there needs to be a concerted international effort to rescue as many of Yemen’s starving people as possible.