As Yemenis mark the two years of war that have claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and brought the country “to the brink of famine,” there are signs the United States’ already tainted role in the conflict may be set for escalation.
The Washington Post reports: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has asked the White House to lift Obama-era restrictions on U.S. military support for Persian Gulf states engaged in a protracted civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to senior Trump administration officials.” Getting rid of those restrictions “would enable the military to support Emirati operations against the Houthis with surveillance and intelligence, refueling, and operational planning assistance without asking for case-by-case White House approval,” the Post adds.
Trump’s State Department already gave notice to Congress that they have approved a resumption of sales of precision-guided munitions to the Saudis. Amnesty International urged Trump not to sign off on the sales, saying that new US arms could be used to devastate civilian lives in Yemen and could “implicate your administration in war crimes.”
Despite this context, the “shameful war now extends into a second presidential administration and a new Congress that seem even more enthused by it,” writes Micah Zenko, senior fellow with the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relation.
The reason why, journalist Iona Craig said to “Intercepted” last week, is because “it’s good business. … In the first year of the war, the U.S. sold 20 billion dollars’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia has been buying more and more weapons as a result of this war. At this rate, the U.S. is liable to be owning a famine in Yemen, and along with the rest of the international community, as long as they keep supplying Saudi Arabia with not just the weapons,” but also keep providing support by refueling aircraft—and without that U.S. support, she said, the Saudis would be forced to stop the bombing.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien said in statement Sunday: “Man-made conflict has brought Yemen to the brink of famine. Today nearly 19 million Yemenis—over two-thirds of the population—need humanitarian assistance. Seven million Yemenis are facing starvation.”
“Twenty-one million Yemenis—82 percent of the population—are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. I urge all parties to the conflict, and those with influence, to work urgently towards a full ceasefire to bring this disastrous conflict to an end, and to facilitate rather than block the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.