February 22, 2021


Hope for Yemen (Regina Munch, February 22, 2021, Commonweal)

The change in American posture and policy is long overdue, and welcome. Yet it's still unclear just what it will amount to. For one thing, though the administration has promised to end "offensive operations," the United States will continue to give Saudi Arabia defensive support. From the outset, Saudi Arabia has claimed that all its interventions in Yemen are defensive in nature; indeed, this was the grounds on which the Obama administration became involved in the first place. Also unclear is what qualifies as "relevant" arms sales. The vagueness of these terms suggests the administration is leaving itself room to maintain U.S. involvement in the war, perhaps in more or less the same manner as its predecessors.

That would be a mistake. Ending the catastrophe in Yemen means ending all military cooperation with the Saudis in Yemen and cutting off arms sales to the pro-government coalition. Now that the Houthis' terrorist designation has been revoked, the United States can and should support humanitarian-relief efforts--not only in the desperately impoverished north, but throughout the country. Biden must also commit to negotiating a ceasefire and, through the new envoy, work to broker a peace deal between the Yemeni government and the Houthis. The suffering in Yemen has gone on for far too long. That the United States has helped cause so much of it should be a source of lasting shame. The Biden administration has the opportunity, and the obligation, to correct course.

Posted by at February 22, 2021 1:35 PM