As previously reported, civilians in Yemen are suffering from an intense and widespread humanitarian crisis. Staggering numbers include 7 million civilians in starvation, and 19 million out of the country’s 27 million population “in need of some form of aid,” according to the Guardian and the UN. “The poorest country in the Middle East, Yemen is now the largest food security emergency in the world,” stated a Unicef report that focused on the war’s effect on Yemeni children.
At least 9.6 million children, which amounts to 80% of all Yemeni children, are in need of humanitarian assistance. “Nearly 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished and require urgent care. Close to half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition that has seen a drastic increase of 200 percent since 2014,” the report also stated, adding that health care, education, and social systems have deteriorated during the war.
Alongside this starvation crisis, is the high number of civilian casualties during the continuing conflict in Yemen. At least 4,773 civilians have been killed over the last two years and an additional 8,272 have been injured.
US foreign policy is playing a direct role in the starvation and murder of thousands of innocent civilians.
In an effort to ensure power to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a Saudi-led coalition has been relentlessly attacking Yemen, targeting heavy military action toward Houthi rebels resistant of a Hadi government which has effectively accelerated the country’s humanitarian crisis.
A critical element to this war, which has been ongoing for over two years, is assistance from the United States government. The United States has been a longstanding ally of Saudi Arabia and has been providing weapons deals for the Saudi government for a great number of years.
A 2016 report showed that the Obama administration offered at least $115 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over eight years, “more than any previous US administration,” which included deals that provided weapons sales to “replenish the Saudi arsenal, depleted in the war in Yemen.”
Donald Trump is on the same path.
Historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter recently published an extensive writeup explaining the United States’ involvement in Saudi Arabia’s military interventions. Porter laid out the Saudi coalition’s “war strategy of maximizing pressure on the Houthi resistance by destroying agricultural, health and transportation infrastructure and by choking off access to food and fuel for most of Yemen’s population.”
“Equally important, however, the US has provided the political-diplomatic cover that the Saudis need to carry out this ruthless endeavor without massive international blowback,” Porter noted.
Human Rights Watch researcher Kristine Beckerle recently pointed out that the organization has found evidence of U.S.-supplied weapons at “apparently unlawful coalition attack” sites in Yemen, including weapons made by Raytheon.
“The United States, which became a party to the Yemen conflict during the first months of fighting by providing direct support to the coalition, including refueling planes during bombing raids, has provided substantial assistance to Saudi Arabia, including “intelligence, airborne fuel tankers and thousands of advanced munitions.”
International legal scholars and U.S. lawmakers have warned that continued U.S. support—including through weapons sales—to Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen may not only make the U.S. government complicit in coalition violations of the laws of war, but also expose U.S. officials to legal liability for war crimes,” wrote Beckerle.
While the Obama administration provided plenty of weaponry for the Saudi coalition to engage in military conflict that has devastated the civilian population in Yemen, the Trump administration is broadly continuing assisting Saudis by selling their coalition more weapons.
The U.S. government is “working to push through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others in the pipeline, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to the kingdom this month,” Reuters reported.
Reuters also noted that “The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs, from F-15 fighter jets to command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years.”
In addition, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly doubled down on American-Saudi companionship and pointed to Iran as a factor in assisting Saudi Arabia during the war. As the United States prepares to provide more weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Mattis said that the government would “reinforce Saudi Arabia’s resistance to Iran’s mischief” and declared that “we are not leaving this region.”