The United States is supporting and profiting from a war being waged by the richest Arab country, Saudi Arabia, against the poorest Arab country, its neighbor Yemen. Since March of 2015 a Saudi-led coalition has destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure--ports, factories, warehouses, farms, roads, schools and medical facilities, leading to widespread misery and death.
The Saudi coalition of Sunni governments includes oil-rich absolute monarchies such as the UAE and Bahrain, and the corrupt dictatorship of Egypt's Al Sisi. They are trying unsuccessfully to restore an unpopular Sunni government forced out by Houthi Shiite rebels in 2015. This Yemeni civil war is partly a reflection of the wider civil war within Islam between Sunni and Shia, with Saudi Arabia and Iran as the leading powers on each side.
The Obama and Trump administrations have accepted Saudi claims that Iran is a major arms supplier for the Houthis. However, as award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter points out , the Houthis received Iranian guided missiles only after the Saudis began their bombing campaign, "to allow the Houthis to have some means of retaliation."
As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution explains, from Iran's point of view supplying arms and training to the Houthis is an inexpensive way to bog down its Saudi adversary in a very costly quagmire. And, as Trump made clear on his May 20 visit when he joined Saudi King Salman in a traditional male-only sword dance, the U.S. will continue to help, with more multibillion-dollar weapon sales to the Saudis, intelligence sharing and aerial refueling of coalition aircraft so they can spend more time raining destruction on Yemen.
Given the Trump administration's mounting hostility to Iran, there seems to be no end in sight for the proxy war in Yemen. Gruesome numbers reveal the scale of the disaster overtaking this nation of 25 million. In July the UN special envoy to Yemen told the UN Security Council that seven million--including 2.3 million children under the age of five--are on the "cusp of famine."
Stephen O'Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General For Humanitarian Affairs, reported that between March 2015 and Oct. 31 of 2016, "10,000 children under the age of five have perished from preventable diseases as a result of the sharp decline in the availability of immunizations and remedies for diarrhea and pneumonia." According to Anas Shahari of Save the Children Yemen, there are 344,000 confirmed or suspected cholera cases. There have been "more than 1,700 cases of deaths because of cholera; 42 percent of this number is children."
Here's a picture that captures the obscenity of the U.S. role in Yemen: juxtapose a photo of an American tanker plane hovering over Yemen gracefully copulating by fuel line with a Saudi fighter-bomber, and a photo of one of the millions of young children on the ground starving because food sources have been destroyed by coalition aircraft.
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