The Biden administration is reportedly reaching out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to urge them to increase their oil output to counterbalance disruptions in the global market sparked by sanctions on Russia. In doing so, it is crucial that the administration doesn’t excuse their crimes in Yemen or bolster their militaries with additional arms sales or other military support.
As the Wall Street Journal has noted, the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, appear to be pressuring the Biden administration over the oil issue to get more support for their devastating war in Yemen. Both men have declined to speak by phone with President Biden in an attempt to draw U.S. attention to the quid pro quo they are seeking — more oil output for more arms and assistance in fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen.
The UAE announced on Wednesday that it would increase its oil output, but it is unclear whether the Biden administration offered anything to the UAE in return. Giving in to the Saudi and UAE demands on Yemen would be a disastrous mistake, both for U.S. interests in the Middle East and, most tragically, for the people of Yemen. There are other ways to get more oil onto the international market, including lifting sanctions on Iran as a revived nuclear deal under the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) moves closer to fruition.
As the humanitarian suffering caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has come front and center, it has been all too easy to forget the devastation caused by the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen. The United Nations estimates that there have been at least 377,000 direct and indirect deaths as a result of the war, which was initiated by a Saudi-led coalition seven years ago this month. Saudi air strikes are at their highest levels since April 2018, and the Saudi blockade of Yemen has choked off imports of fuel that are essential for powering hospitals and fulfilling the needs of daily life, causing further suffering and unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians. This is no time to be stepping up U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Read the full article in The Hill.