September 16, 2021
Biden’s Broken Promise on Yemen
When Joe Biden included ending the war in Yemen as a key goal during his first foreign policy speech as president, he was breaking with his predecessors. Donald Trump had backed the Saudis and Emiratis, even using a presidential veto to stymie a congressional attempt to end U.S. involvement in the war. When Mohammed bin Salman, then Saudi defense minister, launched his military intervention in Yemen 2015, Barack Obama decided to provide assistance — a Faustian bargain aimed (unsuccessfully) at tempering Saudi criticism of the Iran nuclear deal. Biden’s decision to prioritize Yemen by appointing a special envoy — as well as reversing Trump’s designation just before leaving office of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization — raised hopes that a greater emphasis on diplomacy from the U.S. might finally move the devastating war towards resolution. Yet almost eight months later, little has changed.