Yemen: The blood on U.S. hands
America is “complicit in a humanitarian disaster of horrific proportions” in Yemen, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. The 3½-year-long proxy conflict there between Saudi Arabia–backed government forces and Iran-allied Houthi rebels has left 17,000 civilians “killed and injured.” In a nation whose civil order has been shattered and where food has become unaffordable, millions more have been “left homeless and beset by disease and starvation.” A cholera epidemic has infected 1 million–plus people. Horrific photos of starving children have prompted a public outcry. The U.S. has played a major role in this atrocity, by refueling the warplanes of its Saudi ally and providing bombs, weapons, and intelligence to its forces. Last week, the Trump administration finally called for a cease-fire by the end of November, but it “is unlikely to have much impact unless the U.S. makes clear to the Saudis that it is prepared to end its support.”
“Why wait” to end U.S. involvement in Yemen? asked Daniel DePetris in WashingtonExaminer.com. The U.S. doesn’t have any “core security interest” in Yemen other than suppressing terror groups such as al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). If anything, U.S. involvement there “has given AQAP a new lease on life” as it steps up its recruitment among alienated Yemenis. Sadly, “there is little reason” to believe the Trump administration will insist on a cease-fire, said Jonah Shepp in NYMag.com. The administration was indifferent to Yemen’s suffering until it faced mounting rage over the photos of starving Yemeni kids and Saudi Arabia’s grisly murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Don’t be surprised if the White House claims that the Saudis tried to make peace, but that the Iranians and Houthis wouldn’t cooperate.
To end this brutal war, said Mohamed Elmenshawy in AlJazeera.com, Trump would have to “sever his personal ties” with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS. Since President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, gave their blanket endorsement to the aggressive young crown prince, MBS has engaged in ever more “reckless behavior”—the escalation of the Yemen war, his ruthless consolidation of power, and the Khashoggi murder. That murder has given the Trump administration “an opportunity to correct its course” and inform the Saudis we no longer support MBS. Only then does the U.S. have a real chance to end this morally bankrupt war.