Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Crisis in Yemen - How Washington is Fighting Both Sides of the Same War

Given this recent certification to Congress from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which allows continued sales of U.S.-built arms to Saudi Arabia: would think that all is well in Yemen and that the Saudi's are doing their very best to ensure that Yemenis are not suffering at their hands.  Unfortunately, as you will see in this posting, according to the United Nations World Food Program and other reputable sources, Yemen continues to suffer at the hands of the Saudi Royal family particularly given that King Salman is the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Saudi Arabian Armed Forces and his son, Mohammad Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who is affectionately referred to as MBS is the nation's Defense Minister as shown on this diagram:

One of the biggest problems facing Yemen is the nation's overall lack of food.  The latest statistics from the World Food Program (WFP) shows the following:

1.) 18 million people are food insecure (i.e. they do not have enough food)

2.) more than 8 million are severely food insecure and must rely on external sources of food

3.) 3 million pregnant and nursing women and children under the age of 5 need nutritional supports with the rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world

4.) more than half of Yemeni families are purchasing food on credit because salaries have not been paid to public sector employees since September 2016

The World Food Program has the goal of providing 9.5 million people with 100 percent of their daily nutritional requirements.  WFP requires total funding of $91.4 million to sustain their Yemeni food program until February 2019.

Here is a fact sheet from the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, a taxpayer funded U.S. government agency providing additional background on Yemen's food emergency:

As you can see, USAID has made significant contributions through its Food for Peace program with the vision of "reducing hunger and malnutrition, ensuring that all individuals have adequate, safe and nutritious food to support a healthy and productive lifestyle".  In total, American taxpayers have generously funded food for Yemen, spending a total of $872.2 million since fiscal 2016 on food aid for Yemenis

As well, according to the Famine Early Warming Systems Network or FEWS NET, Yemen's food situation likely to grow significantly worse over the next few months as shown here:

FEWS NET notes that Saudi-led conflict near the main Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah has resulted in concerns that the meagre amount of food that is getting into Yemen may be further disrupted.  As well, the main road between Al Hudaydah and Sana'a City, the nation's capital and largest city, has worsened Yemen's food crisis.

Now, let's look at the other side of the equation, the link between Washington - Saudi Arabia and arms.  Between 1950 and 2009, Washington enacted 418 arms sales with Saudi Arabia with a total value of $106.8 billion.  According to SIPRI, between 2013 and 2017, the United States is the world's largest exporter of arms with Saudi Arabia being its biggest client by a wide margin as shown here:

Here is a summary of the most recent major proposed sale of $110 billion worth of U.S. armaments to the Saudi Royal family:

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service entitled "Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations" makes this observation about the Saudi - Yemeni situation:

"Since March 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance, and shared intelligence in support of military operations in Yemen. Legislation has been proposed in the 115th Congress to condition or disapprove of some U.S. weapons sales and condition or direct the President to end U.S. support to Saudi operations without specific authorization....

Saudi Arabia’s armed forces have relied on U.S. arms sales, training, and service support for decades. Congress has broadly supported U.S. arms sales to the kingdom, while seeking to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) over potential Arab adversaries and expressing concern about the merits or terms of individual sales cases in some instances. Some Members of Congress have at times expressed concern about the potential for U.S. arms sales to contribute to or help drive arms races in the Gulf region and broader Middle East and about Saudi use of U.S. origin weaponry in Yemen." (my bolds)

Let's summarize.  The Saudi Royal family and the military coalition that it controls is obviously to blame for the food insecurity in Yemen which now impacts 18 million Yemenis including young children and pregnant/nursing women largely using materiel supplied by the United States military-industrial-Congressional complex.  As a result of the conflict which has left Yemen in tatters, U.S. taxpayers have now spent nearly $900 million on supplying much needed food aid for Yemenis.  Nonetheless, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently certified that sales of U.S.-built military equipment should continue because "...the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments."

How bad does the situation in Yemen have to become before Washington realizes that its second-best friend in the Middle East is guilty of what can best be described as a crime against humanity?  How long will it be before U.S. taxpayers realize that they are fighting both sides in the same war?

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