The scenes of carnage in Ukraine have sparked anger and concerted action against the Russian invasion of that country, now in its eighth week. But there is another conflict, now in its eighth year, that has resulted in the deaths of nearly half a million people and driven millions more to the brink of starvation – the war in Yemen. And unlike the war in Ukraine, where Washington faces daunting obstacles in attempting to end Russian atrocities, the United States has considerable leverage in bringing the Yemen conflict to an end, and soon.
The current war in Yemen began with the March 2015 Saudi/UAE-led intervention aimed at defeating the indigenous Houthi movement and restoring the prior regime to power. The Saudi leadership, led by then defense minister and current Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, promised a short war. Instead, the intervention has sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with non-combatants suffering the vast bulk of the casualties due to Saudi air strikes and a smothering air and sea blockade that has reduced imports of fuel and humanitarian aid that are essential to run hospitals and provide essential provisions to Yemenis.
The United States is far from an innocent bystander in the Yemen war. It has supplied tens of billions of dollars-worth of bombs, missiles, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), weapons that have been the backbone of the Saudi/UAE war effort. A cutoff of arms, spare parts, and maintenance would ground the Royal Saudi Air Force in short order and send a powerful message to the Saudi leadership that they must end their attacks on Yemen and negotiate in good faith to end the war. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has so far failed to do so.
The administration’s record on Yemen has been disappointing, to put it mildly. When he was on the campaign trail, President Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and pledged to stop the flow of U.S. arms to the regime. And in his first foreign policy speech, the president said that he would “end support for offensive operations in Yemen” along with “relevant arms sales.” Instead, his administration sold over $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in its first year in office, and it has refused to use all of the leverage at its disposal to end Saudi attacks on Yemen. In fact, Saudi air strikes have increased during Biden’s tenure, including a an attack on a migrant detention center earlier this year that killed 90 people and wounded over 200.
Read the full article in Forbes.