Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
It’s your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch in 2017. Help us gear up to fight the status-quo in 2018! Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen

by

“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.

December 14, 2017
John W. Whitehead
Surveillance That Never Sleeps
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Roy Moore’s Loss: a Victory for the Young Girls of America
Eric Toussaint
Debt is a Determining Factor in History
Kenneth Surin
Selective Impressions of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Conjuncture
Liaquat Ali Khan
Appropriation of Jerusalem
Jack Rasmus
Is the Bitcoin Bubble the New ‘Subprime Mortgage’ Bomb?
William Sanjour
How the Once Tiny Waste Management Industry Captured the EPA and Became Very BIG
Devin Currens
Hey Mainstream Environmentalists: If You’re Not Embarrassed, You’re Not Paying Attention
Courtney Myers
“Me Too” Movement Gives Twitter Fuel to Trump’s Fire
Mel Gurtov
Momentum for Talks with North Korea?
Julian Vigo
Student Loans, The Indentured Servitude of the 21st Century
John Carroll Md
Do Jimmy Kimmel and Haiti Have Anything in Common?
Brian Foley
How to Stop Trump
December 13, 2017
Gabriel Rockhill
The U.S. is Not a Democracy, It Never Was
Jim Kavanagh
Zionism in the Light of Jerusalem
John Davis
The Epic of Our Awakening
Linn Washington Jr.
The Shadow of Smuts on Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration
Timothy M. Gill
The Global Retreat From Human Rights in the Trump Administration
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Shameful Decision on Jerusalem
Lance Olsen
Natural Variability isn’t the Final Word on Climate Science
Robert Jensen
In Patriarchy, Sexual “Misconduct” Not Surprising
Cesar Chelala
Living in New York, Missing Home
Mike Bader
Grizzly Bear Goal Not Yet Achieved
Steve Horn
India May Ban Petcoke, One of Dirtiest Fossil Fuels Exported by Koch Brothers
December 12, 2017
John Pilger
Why the Documentary Must Not Be Allowed to Die
David Rosen
Politics Trumps Religion: The Immorality of Republican “Christian” Morality
Ken Levy
Apparently, Child Rapists Deserve the Death Penalty, But a Child Molester Deserves a U.S. Senate Seat
John Wight
Trump’s Jerusalem Ploy
David Swanson
Sun Tzu: The Ass of War
Ramzy Baroud
The ‘Last Martyr’: Who Killed Kamal Al-Assar?
Doug Johnson
Are Polls Showing a Win for Accused Molester Roy Moore Accurate?
Andrew Bacevich
A Harvey Weinstein Moment for America’s Wars?
Robert Dodge
Saving Humanity From Itself
Binoy Kampmark
Pakistan, US Drones and Idle Threats
Tom H. Hastings
Leave it on The Table Again?
Cesar Chelala
Living in New York. Missing Home
December 11, 2017
Oscar Oliver-Didier 
The Invisibility of Poverty in Puerto Rico
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Risks Uniting the Entire Arab World Against the US
Uri Avnery
From Barak to Trump
Robert Hunziker
Dying Ecosystems
Paul Tritschler
The Year Without Summer
Ramzy Baroud
What Trump Has Done: The Entire US-Middle East Political Framework Just Collapsed
Francis Thicke
What Does “Organic” Mean?
Franklin Lamb
Foreign Proxies Prematurely Boast “Mission Accomplished” in Syria
Mike Whitney
Petty, Backstabbing by Washington Sinks Russia’s Olympic Dreams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail