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Stop Supporting Saudi Arabia in its War on the Yemeni People

The U.S. is at war in Yemen. Special Forces are on the ground in Saudi Arabia, while Washington is providing Riyadh’s military with munitions, targeting assistance, and aerial refueling. All to bomb a nation whose people have done nothing against Americans.

The Obama administration backed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, in a futile War in Yemenattempt to assuage Saudi concerns over the Iranian nuclear deal. Now President Donald Trump has fallen under Riyadh’s sway, backing Saudi aggression.

With horrific consequences. Perry Cammack of the Carnegie Endowment observed: “By catering to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the United States has empowered 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.”

Yemen has been constantly beset by conflict. For years President Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled. He worked with both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Among his enemies were the Houthis, a militia as much tribal as political or religious.

In 2012 Saleh was overthrown. But he and the Houthis then united to oust his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Saudi Arabia joined with the United Arab Emirates and several lesser “coalition” partners in March 2015 in an attempt to restore Hadi. Iran had little to do with these events.

Today Yemen no longer exists. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed. Earlier this year the UN explained, “Yemenis are facing multiple crises, including armed conflict, displacement, risk of famine and the outbreaks of diseases, including cholera—creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Saudi airstrikes, described as “indiscriminate or disproportionate” by Human Rights Watch, have caused at least two thirds of infrastructure damage and three-quarters of casualties.

Observed Yemeni-American Rabyaah Lthaibani: “the Saudi Coalition has bombed hospitals, schools and wedding parties. They have systematically targeted roads and farms and blocked ports so lifesaving aid and other goods could not reach people facing famine and the world’s fastest-growing cholera outbreak.”

What could justify U.S. complicity in this murderous war of aggression?

The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano argued “to keep the region from falling apart. The collapse of any friendly regime there is bad for us.”

However, Washington has ravaged the region with the invasion of Iraq, bombing of Libya, and support for jihadist radicals in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen has continued that process.

Hadi is no friend of America. He has allied with Islamist radicals. Moreover, after calling in airstrikes on his own people Hadi lost any domestic legitimacy. Helping kill thousands of civilians while attempting to restore him to power ensures that much of the population will be unfriendly, whatever regime that emerges.

Saudi and U.S. officials cite missile attacks on Riyadh as justification for the war. Yet the Yemenis are responding to repeated bombing of Sanaa and killing of thousands of civilians.

Iran has become an all-purpose bugaboo. Yet Iran is militarily weak, economically decrepit, and politically divided. Even MbS admitted that: “Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.”

Washington officials appear to fantasize about a vast Persian empire. However, in Yemen Tehran is a bit player compared to the Saudis. According to Adam Baron of the European Council on Foreign Relations: “It’s not as if the Houthis were created by Iran, and further, it’s not as if the Houthis are being controlled by Iran. This is a group that is rooted in local Yemeni issues.”

The coalition invasion made an Iranian-Houthi partnership inevitable. What choice did the Houthis have, after being attacked by their rich neighbors backed by the global superpower?

America’s only serious security issue is the revival of al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group’s most active affiliate. The war has been a godsend for Islamists and terrorists.

The Houthis are anti-AQAP, but their attention has been diverted, one might say, by Saudi/UAE aggression. Even the State Department admitted that terrorist groups had “exploited the political and security vacuum left by the conflict.”

Moreover, journalist Laura Kasinof observed that Hadi, lacking internal support, “cozied up to the Islamists,” including AQAP, before his ouster. Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute said that “The Saudi-led coalition tolerates AQAP’s presence on the battlefield.”

Finally, war advocates incongruously claim that the way to reduce casualties is to support escalating Saudi attacks. Arguing that Americans must help the coalition kill civilians to stop it from killing more civilians is bizarre.

Washington should stop destroying the Mideast to save it. President Trump should end America’s disastrous meddling in Yemen.

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