President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, on March 18, 2018. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The United States government is remaining complicit in fuelling the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Both Congress and President Donald Trump took action to avoid pulling aid to Saudi Arabia amidst rising concerns of their role in the horrific civil war. The current United States foreign policy is much more contingent on the president’s business ties to Saudi Arabian royalty than in working to stop a massive humanitarian crisis.
Yemen has been trapped in a horrific civil war since 2015. The Yemeni government is at war with a rebel group, the Houthis, with both seeking political control. The civilians caught between the two warring groups are facing a huge humanitarian crisis. Those that didn’t flee faced the devastation brought on by the three-year-long ongoing battle. Major cities became war zones, food supplies were cut off, and thousands of civilians were made casualties in the fighting.
The Houthis rebel group is fighting to overthrow the internationally recognized Yemeni government which is backed by a coalition of Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both are battling to seize political and government control. So far, the war has taken more than 10,000 civilian lives and currently threatens another 14,000,000 with starvation. The devastation throughout the country also allowed for the rise and rallying of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL within Yemen, posing yet another threat to the area.
Saudi Arabian led air strikes carried out by fighter jets and forces from countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan are likely responsible for up to two-thirds of the documented civilian deaths within the war. The Saudi government is leading the coalition of Arab states fighting to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government, and are a major factor in the war that threatens the lives of millions of civilians.
The United States is actively aiding Saudi Arabia in their war efforts. While they recently pledged to no longer refuel Saudi warplanes mid-flight, the U.S. government is still providing arms and supplies to Saudi forces.
Trump’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia run too deep for him to risk severing those by pulling out of war efforts. The involvement of Saudi royalty in Trump’s business ventures of yachts and plaza hotels have proven that Saudi royalty is able to essentially buy U.S support in international affairs—regardless of the humanitarian crisis involved. Trump’s financial ties with Saudi Arabia are a massive conflict of interest when millions of civilians’ lives are at stake.
The United Nations security council has spoken out about the humanitarian crisis and called for a “cessation of hostilities in Yemen.” The U.N has become quite vocal about the war and has advocated for peace talks and a ceasefire. The United States government has also called for peace talks, but have yet to completely remove themselves from involvement in the civil war.
The confirmed murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khasoggi on October 2 was a much overdue turning point in getting the U.S government to begin to discuss stopping aid to the Saudi war efforts. Many government officials have been vocal in condemning the actions of the Saudi government. However, Trump continues to voice support for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite overwhelming evidence that he was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khasoggi. While many members of Congress are claiming an intent to stop providing aid to Saudi Arabia, there have yet to be any policy changes instigated beyond a superficial level.
On a vote in the House of Representatives on November 14, Republicans actively blocked a resolution that would mean the winding down of military support for the war in Yemen. The bill, H-Res 138, would essentially give the president 30 days to pull the U.S military out of Yemen. The legislation was tacked onto a resolution about the protection of grey wolves, essentially hiding the one-line rule change. Multiple members of Congress cited casting their votes in error, and as a result of this vote, the government is under no pressure to reduce aid to the war efforts. Republicans are now effectively able to prevent any further pushback on this topic until January.
Trump’s economic concerns are extending into Congress and effectively superseding humanitarian concerns. The recent shot down resolution absolves him of any responsibility to take action in pulling aid in the civil war. Many government officials are remaining vocal on the issue, but as of right now, the government will continue to provide aid to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen, and Trump continues to vocally support Saudi Arabia and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.