Also on Wednesday, President Trump announced that he has ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to "substantially" increase its sanctions against Iran. But existing U.S. sanctions already place such huge obstacles in the way of Iranian oil exports and imports of food, medicine and other consumer products that it is hard to imagine what further pain these new sanctions can possibly inflict on the besieged people of Iran.
U.S. allies have been slow to accept the U.S. claims that Iran launched the attack. Japan's Defense Minister told reporters"we believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility." The United Arab Emirates(UAE) expressed frustration that the U.S. was so quick to point its finger at Iran.
Tragically, this is how U.S. administrations of both parties have responded to such incidents in recent years, seizing any pretext to demonize and threaten their enemies and keep the American public psychologically prepared for war.
If Iran provided the Houthis with weapons or logistical support for this attack, this would represent but a tiny fraction of the bottomless supply of weapons and logistical support that the U.S. and its European allies have provided to Saudi Arabia. In 2018 alone, the Saudi military budget was $67.6 billion, making it the world's third-highest spender on weapons and military forces after the U.S. and China.
Under the laws of war, the Yemenis are perfectly entitled to defend themselves. That would include striking back at the oil facilities that produce the fuel for Saudi warplanes that have conducted over 17,000 air raids, dropping at least 50,000 mostly U.S.-made bombs and missiles, throughout more than four long years of war on Yemen. The resulting humanitarian crisis also kills a Yemeni child every 10 minutes from preventable diseases, starvation and malnutrition.
The Yemen Data Project has classified nearly a third of the Saudi air strikes as attacks on non-military sites, which ensure that a large proportion of at least 90,000 Yemenis reported killed in the war have been civilians. This makes the Saudi-led air campaign a flagrant and systematic war crime for which Saudi leaders and senior officials of every country in their "coalition" should be held criminally accountable.
That would include President Obama, who led the U.S. into the war in 2015, and President Trump, who has kept the U.S. in this coalition even as its systematic atrocities have been exposed and shocked the whole world.
The Houthis' newfound ability to strike back at the heart of Saudi Arabia could be a catalyst for peace, if the world can seize this opportunity to convince the Saudis and the Trump administration that their horrific, failed war is not worth the price they will have to pay to keep fighting it. But if we fail to seize this moment, it could instead be the prelude to a much wider war.
So, for the sake of the starving and dying people of Yemen and the people of Iran suffering under the "maximum pressure" of U.S. economic sanctions, as well as the future of our own country and the world, this is a pivotal moment.
If the U.S. military, or Israel or Saudi Arabia, had a viable plan to attack Iran without triggering a wider war, they would have done so long ago. We must tell Trump, Congressional leaders and all our elected representatives that we reject another war and that we understand how easily any U.S. attack on Iran could quickly spiral into an uncontainable and catastrophic regional or world war.