Wrecking and Starving Yemen With Washington’s Blessing by Daniel Larison
The Secretary of Defense is considering more support for the atrocious, indefensible war on Yemen:
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is considering a range of additional military support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen in the hope of forcing the group into peace negotiations.
Mr. Mattis on Wednesday finished up two days of meetings here with the Saudi king and other top officials. In public comments made before meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, Mr. Mattis said it’s important for the U.S. to help “reinforce Saudi Arabia’s resistance to Iran’s mischief.” The U.S. believes Iran is backing the rebels.
Mattis is gravely mistaken if he thinks that helping the Saudis pulverize Yemen is in America’s interest, and he is simply deluded if he believes that the war on Yemen is happening because of “Saudi Arabia’s resistance to Iran’s mischief.” The truth is that the Saudis and their allies are devastating Yemen mostly because of their gross exaggeration of Iran’s role in the country, and the U.S. is wrong to buy into their framing of the conflict. Providing more support to the coalition won’t hasten peace talks, but it will hasten the onset of famine and widespread loss of life.
In addition to his willingness to support an indefensible war, Mattis is making a serious error by allowing a preoccupation with Iran to distort his understanding of the conflict and the wider region. He is quoted as saying, “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” but one might just as easily say the same about the role of the Saudis in the region. Yemen is one place in the region where Iran’s involvement remains limited and they have very little responsibility for what is happening there. In Yemen, it is the Saudis and their allies that bear most of the responsibility for killing civilians with indiscriminate bombing, and they are the ones most responsible for the humanitarian crisis that threatens to consume countless lives.
Perhaps U.S. officials don’t want to admit that our government has been enabling war crimes and famine, or perhaps they haven’t fully grasped the effects of the war that our government has supported for over two years. More likely, they know perfectly well what the coalition has been doing and don’t care. Regardless, there is no excuse for lending more support to the coalition’s war effort, and the Trump administration will further mar our country’s reputation if it provides increased support for the Saudis and their allies. Helping the Saudis to kill innocent civilians in a poor neighboring country is monstrous. Continuing to back this war is shameful and reprehensible. Both Trump and Obama have earned lasting scorn for their willingness to facilitate the wrecking and starvation of Yemen. The people of Yemen are made to starve and suffer so that our leaders can please a few awful despots.