FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen

“USA Kills Yemeni People”, screams graffiti plastered on walls in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. The Yemeni people who have been on the receiving end of US bombs dropped by Saudi pilots know all too well that the United States is complicit in their suffering.

The intense anti-US sentiment in Yemen should be a wake-up call for Americans: if you don’t care about the millions of suffering Yemenis, you might think about the future blowback.

Two US Senators, the Republican Rand Paul and the Democrat Chris Murphy, understand full well the implications and have been trying to halt the weapons sales. “The United States has no business supporting a war that has only served to embolden our terrorist enemies, exacerbate a humanitarian crisis, and incite fear and anger among the Yemeni people toward the United States. This will come back to haunt us,” warned Murphy.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration and the majority of US senators have failed to heed their call. On 13 June, their resolution to stop the Saudi sale of precision-guided munitions was narrowly defeated by a 53-47 vote.

The vote broke down mainly along party lines, with four Republicans and five Democrats breaking ranks. It also broke down along another divide: peace and humanitarian aid groups v the Trump administration, lobbyists for the Saudi government and the weapons industry.

Paul, an anti-interventionist Republican pushing the resolution, railed against the senators who were more concerned about the jobs the weapons manufacturers could generate than the lives of Yemeni children. “I am embarrassed that people are talking about making a buck while 17 million people are threatened with famine,” he said.

He didn’t mention that many of the senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, have taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the same corporations benefitting from the sales.

Despite the loss, the vote reflected an unprecedented level of Senate opposition to the sale. A similar effort during Obama’s presidency failed 71-27. “Today’s vote total would have been unthinkable not long ago, but Congress is finally taking notice that Saudi Arabia is using US munitions to deliberately hit civilian targets inside Yemen,” Murphy said.

The more cynical interpretation would be that Democrats are more willing to criticize Saudi weapons sales under a Trump administration than under a Democratic one.

Yemenis are desperate to end this conflict, now in its third year. Nearly 19 million people require assistance and 6.8 million are at risk of famine. This has been compounded by a cholera outbreak that has surpassed 124,000 cases and is projected to double every two weeks. Almost half the country’s medical facilities have been destroyed. A Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from the combined effects of hunger and lack of medical facilities.

Saudi forces have targeted farms, food facilities, water infrastructure, marketplaces, and even the port of Hudaidah, where most of the humanitarian aid was entering the country. Meanwhile, extremist groups such as al-Qaida and Isis have seized upon the chaos to expand their reach.

US backing for the Saudi-led intervention against the Yemeni Houthi rebels is not new. But after Saudi Arabia bombed a funeral procession in October 2016 that resulted in 150 causalities, the Obama administration put a halt to the sale of munitions that would be used in Yemen and pulled back on US logistical support.

Donald Trump has been quick to resume weapons sales, bragging about clinching an enormous $110bn deal during his trip to the kingdom in May. With the growing chorus against US support to the Saudis, the royal family promised Trump that their military would undergo rigorous US training to reduce civilian casualties, signing a $750m training program.

The Saudis also agreed that US advisers would sit in their air operations control center; previously, only a small US team was allowed to operate from another office to coordinate logistical assistance.

But US training or having a seat in the operations control center will not stop the conflict; only a ceasefire and political talks will do that. In December 2015, UN peace talks were launched in conjunction with a ceasefire but no agreement was reached; the same happened in October 2016.

The United Nations Security Council is now making another attempt to address the conflict, calling on all parties to allow unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, to keep all ports functioning (especially the critical port of Hudaidah, which the Saudis have threatened to take from Houthi control), and to make a good-faith attempt to find a political solution.

This is where the United States should be putting its efforts. People in the region understand that until there is a serious US interest in a political solution, it won’t happen. Even if Trump is only interested in “putting America first”, he would do well to stop being involved in dropping bombs on Yemenis and instead use his “art of the deal” to join with the United Nations in ending this catastrophic conflict.

This piece first appeared in The Guardian.

More articles by:

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human right organization Global Exchange. Follow her on twitter at @MedeaBenjamin.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail