Security, Middle East
What could justify U.S. complicity in another state’s war?
The U.S. is at war in Yemen. Special Forces are on the ground in Saudi Arabia assisting the oil giant against its impoverished neighbor. Washington also is providing Riyadh’s military with munitions, targeting assistance, and aerial refueling. All to bomb a nation whose people have done nothing against Americans.
Although President Donald Trump once criticized the Saudi royals for trying to “control U.S. politicians with daddy’s money,” he has continued to support Saudi Arabia’s war efforts. Congress has too, with the Senate recently voting 55 to 44 against taking up a measure to decide whether America should involved in Yemen. At least the vote was closer than last year, when the Senate refused to block a sale of precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis urged the Saudis to “accelerate” the peace process, but they have not listened. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), who is a supposed reformer, continues to jail his critics and apparently wants only the peace of the grave for his Yemeni victims. Already most of his foreign initiatives—involving Syria, Qatar, and Lebanon—have misfired disastrously. So far, Yemen is his most consequential blunder.
The Obama administration backed MbS’ Yemen gambit in a futile attempt to assuage Saudi concerns over the Iranian nuclear deal, now abandoned by the Trump administration. CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Votel claimed that “We’re not parties to this conflict,” but the Yemeni people, dying from bombs provided by Americans dropped by planes supplied and refueled by Americans and guided to their targets by Americans would disagree.
Gen. Votel then used ignorance as a defense, testifying to the Armed Services Committee that “we do not” know what happens after providing our assistance. Robert Karem, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, confirmed that the U.S. does not “monitor their aircraft.”
In reality, America is an accomplice to Saudi aggression with horrific consequences for the Yemeni people. Perry Cammack of the Carnegie Endowment observed: “By catering to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the United States has empowered Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), strengthened Iranian influence in Yemen, undermined Saudi security, brought Yemen closer to the brink of collapse, and visited more death, destruction, and displacement on the Yemeni population.”