Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Yemen’s Cholera and Famine Crises and U.S. Responsibility

Continued support for the war on Yemen is by far the worst thing Trump is doing right now.
corroded yemen flag

Jackson Diehl comments on the major famine crises around the world, including the one created in Yemen by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war and blockade:

The result, says Joel Charny of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, is that the Yemen crisis “is not about aid or aid dollars.” It’s about the blockade — and the Trump administration is complicit. It is backing the Saudi war effort with intelligence and military supplies and, says Charny, “failing to pressure the Saudis to do basic things that would remediate the situation.”
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Everything Diehl says here is correct, but it is not just the Trump administration that has been doing this. It important to remember that this disgraceful policy of enabling and supporting the Saudis and their allies started in the spring of 2015 under the Obama administration, and most members of the Senate have opposed every attempt to restrict U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition. The starvation of Yemen has been going on all this time, and it received no more attention before Trump took office than it has since he became president. The shameful policy of backing the coalition war on Yemen has run into some resistance in Congress, but not nearly enough to stop it.

There is no question that the Trump administration is complicit in the coalition’s war and blockade, but there are also a lot of other people in Washington that have supported the same horrible policy and they should be called to account for that support as well. Continued support for the war on Yemen is by far the worst thing Trump is doing right now, and the sickening thing is that it is probably one of the only Trump policies that still commands bipartisan support. It is one of the very few Obama-era policies that Trump doesn’t want to reverse.

The cholera epidemic is another product of the war, and has likewise received scant coverage, and when it is covered the responsibility of the coalition and its Western patrons is usually ignored all together. That is beginning to change. More people are now publicly identifying U.S. and British support for the war and blockade as a significant factor in creating the conditions for the epidemic. A group of researchers in Britain recently concluded that the U.S. and U.K. have created the conditions for the spread of the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which is the worst in the world and the worst on record:

Mr Kennedy said in an additional statement: “Saudi Arabia is an ally of the UK and USA. American and British companies supply Saudi Arabia with huge amounts of military equipment and their armed forces provide logistical support and intelligence. “This backing has made the Saudi-led airstrikes and blockade possible, and therefore the UK and USA have played a crucial role in creating conditions conducive to the spread of cholera.”

Diehl is right to hold the Trump administration responsible for the current enabling of the famine and cholera crises in Yemen through continued support for the Saudi-led coalition, but we shouldn’t forget that the blame for creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis extends to all supporters of this policy from both parties.