Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rebecca Gordon — In Yemen, Yet Another Undeclared U.S. War

On how many countries is U.S. ordnance falling at the moment? Some put the total at six; others, seven. For the record, those seven would be Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and, oh yes, Yemen.
The United States has been directing drone strikes against what it calls al-Qaeda targets in Yemen since 2002, but our military involvement in that country increased dramatically in 2015 when U.S. ally Saudi Arabia inserted itself into a civil war there. Since then, the United States has been supplying intelligence and mid-air refueling for Saudi bombers (many of them American-made F-15s sold to that country). The State Department has also approved sales to the Saudis of $1.29 billion worth of bombs — “smart” and otherwise — together with $1.15 billion worth of tanks, and half a billion dollars of ammunition. And that, in total, is only a small part of the $115 billion total in military sales the United States has offered Saudi Arabia since President Obama took power in 2009.
Why are American bombs being dropped on Yemen by American-trained pilots from American-made planes?….
The Saudi-led coalition includes Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. Between March 2015 and the end of August 2016, according to the Yemen Data Project, an independent, nonpartisan group of academics and human rights organizations, the coalition launched more than 8,600 air strikes. At least a third of them struck civilian targets, including, the Guardian reports, “school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure.”…
Why is Saudi Arabia, along with its allies, aided by the United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom, fighting in Yemen?…
So, once again, why do the Saudis (and their Sunni Gulf State allies) care so much about the roiling internal politics and conflicts of their desperately poor neighbor to the south? It’s true that the Houthis have managed to lob some rockets into Saudi Arabia and conduct a few cross-border raids, but they hardly represent an existential threat to that country.
The Saudis firmly believe, however, that Iran represents such a threat. As Saudi diplomatic documents described in the New York Times suggest, that country has “a near obsession with Iran.” They see the hand of that Shi’a nation everywhere, and certainly everywhere that Shi’a minorities have challenged Sunni or secular rulers, including Iraq.
There seems to be little evidence that Iran supported the Houthis (who represent a minority variant of Shi’a Islam) in any serious way — at least until the Saudis got into the act. Even now, according to a report in the Washington Post, the Houthis “are not Iranian puppets.” Their fight is local and the support they get from Iran remains “limited and far from sufficient to make more than a marginal difference to the balance of forces in Yemen, a country awash with weapons. There is therefore no supporting evidence to the claim that Iran has bought itself any significant measure of influence over Houthi decision-making.”
So to return to where we began: why exactly has Washington supported the Saudi war in Yemen so fully and with such clout? The best guess is that it’s a make-up present to Saudi Arabia, a gesture to help heal the rift that opened when the Obama administration concluded its July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. Under that agreement’s terms, Iran vowed “that it will under no circumstances ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons” in return for the United States lifting years of economic sanctions.
The US has no direct national interest in Yemen.

Lobe Log
In Yemen, Yet Another Undeclared U.S. War
Rebecca Gordon

4 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

Something like a JG and whole lot more for poorest of poor in Albuquerque

Ryan Harris said...

Seems to me, adopting a JG in all its glory is too much for people right now. But if people try something like the limited form above, and it is for only the poorest, least attached to the labor force, it could grow from there, as confidence builds around the concept. Baby steps to get us there.

Bob said...

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/somalia-the-next-oil-superpower-12041

Coincidence that Washington is taking an interest in Somalia, across the waters from Yemen.

Bob said...

The next baby step would be to call this limited program a job guarantee. Then see if the baby gets drowned.