The UN and humanitarian aid groups are sounding dire warnings of a man-made famine in Yemen threatening to starve half a million children who are already acutely malnourished. An estimated 7.3 million Yemenis are in need of food relief. Meanwhile, a Saudi Arabian lead blockade of the port of Hodeida is blamed for stopping the movement of food. Northern Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan also face similar issues with civil war, violence and man-made famine according to the UN.
Yemen has been the midst of civil war since forces led by formerly US supported dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh joined Houthi rebels in a bid to reclaim control of the country, seizing the capital of Sana’a in March 2015. Since then a dirty little war has raged, with US-supported Saudi Arabian and Emirati forces supporting the deposed government against the Houthi-Saleh forces supported by Iran. Thousands of innocent Yemenis have been killed in Saudi Arabian airstrikes that have hit hospitals and funerals, using US supplied munitions including cluster bombs. Human rights organizations have roundly condemned the violence and called for an arms embargo.
Last year. Obama administration officials began to express disquiet over possible complicity and culpability in Saudi Arabian war crimes in Yemen. Beyond supplying the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) with weapons, the US has actively provided intelligence and US in flight refueling for KSA aircraft on sorties over Yemen. The Obama administration halted a s Raytheon munitions contract in December of 2016 over concerns, but now the new Trump administration has green lighted the sale.
Under the Trump administration, US military intervention in Yemen has escalated targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP). In January, a joint US Special Forces-Emirati raid on a suspected AQAP compound lost the element of surprise, leading to the a sustained firefight, the death of numerous civilians, the death of a US Navy Seal, and the loss of a $75 million dollars V-22 Osprey special ops aircraft. The success of the operation became a political football with the Trump administration claiming success, while bipartisan detractors claiming otherwise. President Trump faced the most keen criticism from the father of the Navy Seal Ryan Owens killed in the operation. Following the bloody raid, US airstrikes from drones and aircraft purportedly targeting AQAP were stepped up.
Critics in US Congress continue to organize against US involvement in the bloody conflict in Yemen; however, a previous attempt to stop a $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia in September 2016 failed to muster the needed votes. Groups like Just Foreign Policy (and Carolina Peace) continue to monitor the situation and organize, knowing that people power is needed to stop the grim situation in Yemen.
AQAP is considered the most dangerous branch of Al Qaeda, mainly for its attempts to bomb airliners. Undoubtedly, it has been able to operate more freely and grow under the chaos of civil war in Yemen. However, as generals have warned, we cannot bomb our way to defeating terrorism, a misconception the current White House… with little regard for civilian casualties… is hung up on. Yemenis know whose bombs are raining down on them; they know who is fueling the violence and the famine they are facing. If the US continues down this path and causes a famine in Yemen amidst a malingering civil war, the US will spawn more hatred and terrorism against the US than AQAP ever could alone. We can’t say we didn’t know.