The Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 2017-09-03 20:31:12
The Stain of Yemen:
US Support in Saudi War Remains Appalling
The Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(August 29, 2017) — Of the six wars that the United States is involved in around the world, Yemen is surely the most appalling, for at least three reasons.
The first is the state that Yemen has been reduced to. It was the poorest country of the Middle East even before the war started more than two years ago.
Now, its cities demolished by years of US-backed bombing by Saudi Arabia, it has experienced an estimated 16,200 deaths, many of them children and other civilians. It is now in the grip of a cholera epidemic, with an estimated 500,000 victims. And there is widespread malnutrition.
The second reason the Yemen war and American involvement in it approach war criminality is that the rationales for it are petty, political and antithetical to their alleged religious basis.
The Saudis’ continued assault on the Yemeni Houthis is based primarily on the fact that they see themselves as the champions of Islam’s Sunnis against the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthis. In other words, it’s a 21st-century religious war, and also a proxy war between two Middle Eastern powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
That aspect of the Yemen war is made even more complicated by the fact that it is also about competition between Saudi-backed Yemeni Sunni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his also-Sunni predecessor as president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, heightening the cruel absurdity of the conflict.
US involvement in the Yemen war is based primarily on the fact that America sells the Saudis warplanes. Those warplanes need spare parts, munitions and US technical support to keep them in the air bombing Yemen.
In terms of the merits of the parties to the conflict with reference to US strategic interests in the region, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference among the Yemen parties to the conflict. America’s taking sides in the Saudi-Iran, Sunni-Shiite competition in the region is a question far separate from the Yemen war.
The Saudis are promoting media coverage of the humanitarian aid they are providing to stricken Yemenis. That may be considerable, but what they could really do is stop bombing the country and help the Yemenis make peace among themselves.
The United States should stop helping the Saudis attack Yemen and instead encourage the United Nations, the Arab League and other bodies to actively seek an end to the war and make lasting peace there before an already pathetic situation there gets even worse.
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