Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Yemen and the Coalition of the Wicked

The U.S. is aiding many despicable and oppressive governments in the war on Yemen.
yemen sana'a air strike

Samuel Oakford comments on the arrival of soldiers from two of the Saudi-led coalition’s nastiest members in Yemen:

Just weeks after the UN said Eritrean soldiers may be on the ground in Yemen, Sudan has reportedly sent hundreds of additional troops to fight for the Saudi-led coalition.

The apparent arrival of reinforcements from Saudi Arabia’s unsavory allies — both Eritrea and Sudan have dismal human rights records — not only has the potential to plunge Yemen even deeper into chaos, but it puts the United States, a de facto member of the coalition, in the extremely awkward position of backing a side that includes fighters from at least one nation that it has repeatedly criticized for committing atrocities.

The current Sudanese head of state, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted for genocide, and Isaias Afwerki, the dictator in Eritrea, rules his country so harshly that people from Eritrea have been fleeing from there by the tens of thousands for years to get out from under his rule. Both of these governments have volunteered and/or been bribed to support the Saudis in their intervention in Yemen, which puts the U.S. in the ugly role of enabling a coalition that includes some of the absolute worst regimes in the world.

It’s worth remembering here that all of the U.S. clients that have been involved in the war on Yemen from the start have deplorable human rights records, several have committed war crimes in Yemen, and the coalition’s blockade has brought the civilian population to the brink of famine. So it’s not as if a Saudi-led coalition without Eritrea and Sudan would be a good one. The involvement of Eritrean and Sudanese forces in the campaign just drives home how many despicable and oppressive governments the U.S. is aiding as the Saudis and their allies inflict death and devastation on one of the poorest countries in the world.

There may be a case for making alliances of convenience when the survival or independence of one’s country is threatened, but the U.S. has no good reason to be enabling this war. There is certainly nothing so important for the U.S. there that it warrants taking the side of the likes of Eritrea and Sudan. U.S. support for the war on Yemen has been disgraceful from the beginning, but it is becoming even more so the longer that it goes on.