Joe Biden does something right. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The Biden administration has taken two small steps toward ending the horrific US-backed mass atrocities in Yemen, with temporary holds placed on both a murderous sanctions measure and on arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the UAE pending review. Both items being reviewed are unconscionable decisions made by the previous administration.
“The Biden administration has imposed a temporary freeze on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as it reviews billions of dollars in weapons transactions approved by former President Donald Trump,” The Wall Street Journal reported today, adding that “U.S. officials said it isn’t unusual for a new administration to review arms sales approved by a predecessor, and that despite the pause, many of the transactions are likely to ultimately go forward.”
This follows an earlier announcement of a one-month pause on the Trump administration’s designation of Yemen’s Houthis (Ansar Allah) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, an unforgivably brutal measure which would cut off badly needed aid to an already starving populace and potentially kill millions. Like the arms sale hiatus, this measure could easily still move forward, and its temporary nature has provided insufficient assurance to companies that are backing away from trade with Yemen for fear of future US sanctions.
The Washington protest doesn’t hold a candle to killing a bunch of kids and other innocent Yemeni civilians. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
While the Capitol riot is being hysterically compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht by the political/media class, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.
The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organizations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalized by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, a Saudi-led atrocity which could not occur without the help of the western power alliance.
We are already seeing some effects of this designation.
ntiwar‘s Dave DeCamp reports the following:
The terror designation will hamper the efforts of international charities that deliver food to Houthi-controlled areas, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives and malnutrition is the most widespread.
Aid agencies fear their work in north Yemen will now be criminalized since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with and make transactions with. US terror designations open up sanctions on any individuals or entities that do business with those Washington brands as terrorists.
Pompeo said exemptions would be made for humanitarian goods. But any additional roadblocks for aid agencies will cause more suffering in Yemen since the situation is so dire. “Even with exemptions, the operation will be compromised,” said Janti Soeripto, the president of Save the Children, according to AP News.
If what Saudi Arabia, with American assistance, is doing to Yemen isn’t terrorism, what is? From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.
The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.
When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.
In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.
Helping one of the most corrupt governments on the planet wage a war on one of the poorest countries on the planet is a war crime for which US officials must be called to account. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:
That includes prominent American officials. Punishing the perpetrators is the only way to restore our credibility.
Workers search through debris at a warehouse, after it was reportedly hit in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July, 2, 2020. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently announced that it was providing $204 million in aid for the impoverished and war-ravaged country of Yemen. That sounds generous, but it’s the Saudi royals themselves who are responsible for most of the death, destruction, starvation, and disease in Yemen, in which 80 percent of the population, some 24 million, need outside assistance.
Riyadh has spent more than five years conducting a brutal air campaign intended to restore a pliant regime to power. The claim that the Kingdom is generously helping the needy is a bit like a man murdering his parents only to throw himself on the court’s mercy since he is an orphan. If Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted to help the Yemeni people, he would simply end the war.
But he won’t, at least in part because the Trump administration is underwriting the Saudi government’s murderous campaign. Why is the president forcing Americans to assist the Saudi royals, who respect no political or religious liberty and kidnap, imprison, and murder their critics? President Donald Trump appears to be almost bewitched by the licentious and corrupt Saudis.
Washington sold Saudi Arabia planes and munitions used to kill thousands of Yemeni civilians. American personnel serviced and refueled the same planes, as well as providing intelligence to assist in targeting Saudi strikes. That makes U.S. officials complicit in war crimes committed day in and day out for more than five years.
Posted in Crime, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, History, Military, Morality, Politics, Propaganda, War
Tagged Saudi Arabia, Trump administration, War crimes, Yemen
Why has America been Saudi Arabia’s bitch for so long? From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
Many observers have been mystified by the Saudi regime’s hold over President Donald Trump. For years he had criticized the gaggle of corrupt, dissolute royals. He also asked why Americans were paying to defend the wealthy, licentious al-Saud family, as it practiced totalitarianism at home and promoted Islamic fundamentalism abroad, including in America.
Yet Trump made his first trip as president to Saudi Arabia. Some observers wondered if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had salvaged his infamous orb from Mordor’s collapse eons ago and used it to take control of the president’s mind. No other explanation made sense.
Now the New York Times reports that the fault lies with Peter Navarro, the protectionist aide who spends much of his time urging economic and real war with China. He apparently was instrumental in convincing the president to put the profits of munition makers before the lives of Yemenis.
Consider the tragedy that had befallen Yemen, a deeply divided and tragically impoverished nation. During the Arab Spring the Yemeni people ousted the longtime president, leaving a weak and unpopular successor. The former chief executive joined a longtime rebel movement to overthrow the government. All par for the course in a divided land that has never known peace or stability.
By now it’s an article of faith that Yemen’s Houthis are Iranian proxies, but that’s more a convenient fiction to justify the US’s efforts to help Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis. From Joziah Thayer at antiwar.com:
The death toll in Yemen has reached 102,000 according to data released by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project in October of 2019. Since the war started in 2015, the United States government has maintained one steadfast talking point. The Houthis are an Iranian proxy in Yemen. Government officials and those in mainstream media have repeatedly regurgitated this talking point without ever providing evidence to back up this claim.
By repeatedly claiming that the Houthis are an Iranian proxy, it allows the United States government to try and justify what is happening in Yemen daily. All the United States has to do whenever a government official has to answer a question about the war in Yemen, is mention Iran. No matter how undefendable America’s involvement in the war in Yemen has become the excuse to justify the atrocities in Yemen never falter, its Iran’s fault.
Suleimani had laid the groundwork for the extension of Iranian influence into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Now that work is threatened. From Hassan Hassan at theguardian.com:
The killing of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani could prove to be the most consequential US slaying of an enemy operative in recent memory. It will eclipse in its significance the killing of Osama bin Laden almost a decade ago or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October. Not because it might spark another Middle East war, as many have warned, or merely because Suleimani was irreplaceable. Rather, his killing came at a time when the project he had led – to create an Iranian hegemony in the region – is facing unprecedented challenges in Iraq and Lebanon, through cross-sectarian and grassroots protests, while in Syria the project is still in its infancy. One can add to this picture a more aggressive policy adopted by the US.
Indeed, Suleimani was killed while he was trying to deal with these very challenges. His successor is unlikely to be able to complete that mission and contain the spiral of events in countries where, only a year ago, Iran declared major victories – in Syria against the rebels, in Lebanon through a Hezbollah-friendly government and in Iraq and Syria against Isis.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Military, War
Tagged Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Qassam Solemaini assassination, Syria, Yemen
Mohammad bin Salman is young, spoiled, and has made some big mistakes. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:
When the Saudi King Salman promoted his son Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) to Defense Minister and then Crown Prince the expectations were high. But three of the major projects Muhammad launched since then soon ran into trouble. Now initiatives are under way to limit the damage he caused. The end of the five year old Saudi war on Yemen is coming into sight. The public offering of the Saudi state owned ARAMCO oil company is finally happening but with a much lower valuation than originally planned. The thirty month spat with Qatar is under repair.
On August 17 2019 a Yemeni drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations proved that the Saudis had lost the war. Moon of Alabama’s headline empasized the effect that it would have:
Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen
Today’s attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range. […]
The attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.
A month later another large scale attack disabled half of the Saudi oil output.
The Saudis have since procured additional U.S. military units to provide more air defenses around their oil installations. But U.S. air defenses are not effective against the kind of attacks the Yemenis launched. The Saudis had no choice but to sue for peace.
Posted in Energy, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Politics
Tagged Houthis, Mohammad bin Salman, Oil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Are we trying to pull out of the Middle East or get more deeply involved? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
“Jaw-jaw is better than war-war,” is attributed, wrongly, say some historians, to Winston Churchill. Still, the words lately came to mind.
While last week ended with a hopeful U.S.-Iranian prisoner exchange that was hailed by President Donald Trump — “Thank you to Iran for a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together” — a few days earlier, the week produced more ominous news.
In a startling front-page story Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is to send 14,000 troops to the Middle East, in addition to the 14,000 we have sent since May.
The reason for the reinforcements, said the Journal, is Iran.
“The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East to counter Iran, including dozens more ships … and as many as 14,000 additional troops.”
Posted in Economy, Energy, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Houthis, Iran, Middle East wars, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
President Trump may deserve to be impeached, but not for anything having to do with Ukraine or Russia. From Scott Horton at antiwar.com:
Americans should support the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump, but not for Ukrainegate. In fact, they should oppose his impeachment on Ukrainegate grounds completely.
Trump’s real offense is waging an un-authorized, unconstitutional, illegal, treasonous and for-real genocidal war against the human beings of Yemen. His war crimes in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iraq have at least taken place in conflicts supposedly authorized by Congress, making the legal cases against actions there somewhat more complicated.
But in Yemen, no law, only presidential orders, have authorized our military, spies, arms merchants and mercenaries to “lead from behind” in this disastrous war of the so-called “Saudi-led coalition” against the civilian population there.