US policy in Yemen is still wrong

Last week, Brett McGurk, the White House Middle East coordinator, summed up the millions of people suffering in Yemen in a false binary in which Washington did everything for peace. He claimed that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are responsible for the continuation of this seven-year conflict which has become the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. With the Houthis launching ballistic missiles into the UAE and a litany of their own war crimes, it would be easy to fall for this simplistic analysis of the conflict. Yet by suggesting that achieving a ceasefire and ending the war is simply up to the Houthis, rather than the Saudi-backed government, McGurk reveals his misunderstanding of the conflict.

For four years, US officials from both Republican and Democratic Public administrations have told me in my work as a human rights defender that “Saudi Arabia is ready to end the war” and that it is simply a matter of “finding a way out to save the face”. What they mean is, “Is there any way for Saudi Arabia to credibly claim that it won the war?” Ignoring the obvious no answer – Saudi Arabia started a war that everyone knew was a error– the US government has instead engaged in the business of helping to starve millions of people to appease Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This fidelity toopticalof Saudi Arabia’s exit from Yemen has taken various forms over the years. Under the previous administration, that meant silence or statements of Support of the executive branch, equivalent to a blank Check of support for all the regional plans that the Saudi Crown Prince, the Emirati Crown Prince and Jared Kushner have concocted. The Biden administration, McGurk included, appears to have decided that Riyadh is stuck in a war it has little power to end. As usual, US officials are regulation for the easy answer in Yemen, not the real one.

Last week, Brett McGurk, the White House Middle East coordinator, summed up the millions of people suffering in Yemen in a false binary in which Washington did everything for peace. He claimed that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are responsible for the continuation of this seven-year conflict which has become the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. With the Houthis launching ballistic missiles into the UAE and a litany of their own war crimes, it would be easy to fall for this simplistic analysis of the conflict. Yet by suggesting that achieving a ceasefire and ending the war is simply up to the Houthis, rather than the Saudi-backed government, McGurk reveals his misunderstanding of the conflict.

For four years, US officials from both Republican and Democratic Public administrations have told me in my work as a human rights defender that “Saudi Arabia is ready to end the war” and that it is simply a matter of “finding a way out to save the face”. What they mean is, “Is there any way for Saudi Arabia to credibly claim that it won the war?” Ignoring the obvious no answer – Saudi Arabia started a war that everyone knew was a error– the US government has instead engaged in the business of helping to starve millions of people to appease Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This fidelity toopticalof Saudi Arabia’s exit from Yemen has taken various forms over the years. Under the previous administration, that meant silence or statements of Support of the executive branch, equivalent to a blank Check of support for all the regional plans that the Saudi Crown Prince, the Emirati Crown Prince and Jared Kushner have concocted. The Biden administration, McGurk included, appears to have decided that Riyadh is stuck in a war it has little power to end. As usual, US officials are regulation for the easy answer in Yemen, not the real one.

The civil war in Yemen has always been a local conflict, rooted in various exceptional governance failures, the lack of accountability among the elites and the corruption inherent in Yemen’s elite system of power, solidified during 33 years of singular authoritarian rule. . However, the longer the conflict lasted, the more it became internationalized, with the Houthis receiving external military support from Iran following the intervention of the Gulf coalition. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also continuing their own programs in Yemen, funding proxy militias and colonizing parts of the east and south in pursuit of oil pipelines and power projection.

While the international community is doing more to fuel than to resolve the conflict, mainly through restocks coalition armaments, Yemen has fragmented. Various centers of power, almost all of them abusive of civilians living under their control, now rule different parts of the country, although a common thread remains their reliance on guns, repression and a burgeoning war economy for keeping them in power. The peace process led by the United States and the United Nations has remained where it has been for years: pursuing a top-down approach cease fire between armed men – a strategy that has already lack many time-in the place of engaging the dynamic Yemeni civil society interested in peace.

McGurk’s comments asserting since last year another reality, namely that the United States and the United Nations have engaged in meaningful diplomacy and launched “new” initiatives, that the Houthis are the problem and, at this point, that the United States is only supporting Saudi Arabia’s self-defense. These “new” initiatives have proven recycled non runners promulgated by the Saudi and Emirati governments under the Trump administration. The Biden administration rescinded the Houthi Foreign Terrorist Organization designation imposed by the Trump administration, but it also chose to ignore Houthi demands for a unilateral end to the coalition blockade as far-fetched rather than, as the president of the world food program declarednecessary to avert a famine of biblical proportions.

The fact that McGurk cites the purchase weapons of China as a red line for US alliances with these abusive monarchies, not the tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians injured by coalition airstrikes, shows that McGurk, in his role as Middle East czar, reads the regional policymaking handbook of the past 20 years. He makes it perfectly clear that there is no responsibility in the US alliance for Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, let alone the war crimes committed by all parties to the conflict. Impunity reigned in the United States failure to support the resolve of its European allies to extend the mandate of the impartial United Nations war crimes experts so that all parties to the conflict, including the Houthis, on whom the international community has little further responsibility , report to the future leverage.

The impunity that underpins Biden’s policies is evident in the apparent decision to continue Trump Politics to violate US international missile technology non-proliferation commitments to sell the Emirati government’s deadly drone Equipment. This was evident in the US government statement failure hold the crown prince of Saudi Arabia responsible, according to the American intelligence services, for the approval of the assassination of a columnist for the Washington Post, a well-known activist and defender of Saudi democracy. And it was evident in the State Department report failure to condemn the Saudi government’s blatant violation of the Geneva Convention by bombing a detention center in northern Yemen that killed nearly 100 people last month.

After more than six years of complicity in war crimes, the appointment of a Diplomat because Yemen was never going to be enough to show that America really wanted to follow a different path. The Houthi offensive against the Yemeni governorate of Marib, which is partly the result of years of the international community endorsing – approving an unworkable military solution – kept the international community focused on the battlefield, not on a new approach who seeks to check the momentum of the armed men.

Meanwhile, business as usual, with notifications of millions of new weapons transfersand any condemnation Reserve for the Houthis, with only “deep concern” expressed for the killings of civilians in Saudi Arabia. The devastating cycle of tit for tat attacks between the Saudis, the Emirates and the Houthis will not end with diplomatic doublespeak. Since they began in 2016, these attacks outside Yemen’s borders have repeatedly occurred in response to coalition-inflicted civilian damage or alleged aggressive attacks on Yemen. Saudi and Emirati airstrikes in response only provide more justification and propaganda for more Houthi escalation and local support.

As Yemen specialist Alexandra Stark wrote recently, “the Houthis’ strikes on Abu Dhabi…should be seen as an escalation of fighting and a warning from the Houthis that they will directly target the UAE in response to their increased involvement in the fighting” rather than a attack blue. To refrain from further involvement is the best way for the coalition and the international community to defuse this immediate challenge.

The stark reality is this: Yemen has always been a means to an end for the US government. It wasn’t until al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or a proclaimed “Saudi-Iranian proxy war” broke out that policymakers in Washington paid attention. People who are now part of the US government claims over the past four years they had learned their lesson in Yemen and if given the chance they would correct their mistake of 2015 which created a man-made famine and entrenched a vicious war without public debate .

There is no solution to save face for Saudi Arabia other than to accept that it lost in Yemen and unilaterally end its intervention in favor or the talks, as it did in 2010 to secure its southern border. Just as then, the uncomfortable reality is that years of unwillingness to negotiate meaningfully at the conference table rather than on the battlefield have pushed the war to its inevitable conclusion with fewer and fewer viable policies. choice with time. Until the rulers of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – and their benefactors in Washington and London – really stopped pursuing a military solution to this conflict, the Houthis will continue to do the one thing they are good at: waging war with millions of people and paying the price.

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