Reports

Our Yemen war: The U.S. plays a quiet role in a heinous conflict

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Written by NY Staff

Post Gazette — Yemen peace talks have dead-ended for the moment. U.S.-supported Saudi Arabian and other bombing of Yemeni sites, including the capital, Sana, resumed Tuesday, with lethal results.

The multiparty Yemen civil war, with substantial international involvement, has continued for 15 months now, with thousands of casualties from the fighting and particularly the bombing, but also taking a high toll among the civilians of this poorest of Middle Eastern states.

It pits Houthi Shiite Muslim rebels, backed to a degree by predominantly Shiite Iran, supported by Sunni Muslim supporters of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against the Sunni Muslim government of Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf.

Yemen peace talks have dead-ended for the moment. U.S.-supported Saudi Arabian and other bombing of Yemeni sites, including the capital, Sana, resumed Tuesday, with lethal results.

The multiparty Yemen civil war, with substantial international involvement, has continued for 15 months now, with thousands of casualties from the fighting and particularly the bombing, but also taking a high toll among the civilians of this poorest of Middle Eastern states.

It pits Houthi Shiite Muslim rebels, backed to a degree by predominantly Shiite Iran, supported by Sunni Muslim supporters of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against the Sunni Muslim government of Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf.

These are led by Saudi Arabia and include Bahrain, Egypt, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

What the list leaves out is that the United States provides technical and intelligence support to the Sunni side, based in part on the fact that the air forces of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states were largely sold to them by American companies, including McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. It is unlikely that Saudi Arabia could put these warplanes in the air to bomb Yemen without substantial U.S. assistance. Washington declines to say whether there are ever U.S. co-pilots in the aircraft.

There were peace talks involving the parties to the conflict under the auspices of the United Nations underway in Kuwait for the past nine weeks, but these have now collapsed, without success, at least for the moment. The United States has not promoted the talks, reflecting Saudi lack of enthusiasm for an end to the conflict without victory for its side.

This approach to a brutal intra-Islamic war is an unacceptable policy position for the United States to take. President Barack Obama should weigh in with a strong initiative to resume the Yemen peace talks on an urgent basis and to pursue them to a successful close, for humanitarian as well as political reasons. If the Saudis are perceived to be dragging their feet, Washington should threaten to cut off U.S. support of their bombing in Yemen.

Commercial commitments do not provide a sufficient argument for the perpetuation of the war and the continued killing of Yemenis through U.S.-supported bombing.