Sometimes blood doesn’t wash off so easily. The Obama Administration continues to face criticism for supporting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen last year and refusing to pull that support as clear evidence of Saudi war crimes emerges.
Last year, in what appears to be a concession to the Saudis in hopes of blunting anger over the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama ordered the Department of Defense to support Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Yemen Civil War. That support includes intelligence, fuel, and advanced weapons.
Now, Yemen is a waking nightmare with thousands of civilians dead from Saudi attacks that use widely banned American weapons. The Saudis have shown no restraint whatsoever in hitting civilian areas including hospitals, schools, and refugee shelters. In fact, the tactics are nearly identical to the ones the Obama Administration simultaneously condemns Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for using. Grizzly hypocrisy.
Not surprisingly, the horrors bestowed upon the people of Yemen by the US-backed Saudi military campaign have led to increased sympathy with anti-American Islamic extremists among Yemenis. The New York Times has now reported that “American spy agencies have concluded that Yemen’s branch of Al Qaeda has only grown more powerful in the chaos.” So much for hearts and minds.
The Times story also notes that, when the Saudis came to the US for support for the war last March, everyone involved understood the Saudi campaign in Yemen had nothing to do with a security threat to Saudi Arabia from a faction in the Yemen Civil War. This was instead about sending a message to Iran. The Saudis worry about spreading Iranian influence in the wake of the Iraq War and considered one faction in the Yemen Civil War, the Houthis, to be aligned with Iran.
It’s by no means clear that the Houthis are Iran’s proxy in Yemen, though I’m sure the thousands of non-Houthis the Saudis have killed or wounded in Yemen can feel better that they are dying to, as former White House official Philip H. Gordon put it, “[G]ive Iran a bloody nose.”
OK, so now we know the facts, time to do the incredulous American pundit class whine on the Middle East again: Why do they hate ussss?