US President Joe Biden declared in February that the United States was seeking to end the Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen, which was promised to come with stopping offensive weapons to the Saudi Kingdom. yet now it seems that this was all a facade.
Last week the New York Times reported that US officials had stated their intention to approve a 23 Billion dollar weapons deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), finalized under the Trump administration. The weapons deal includes the sale of armed reaper drones and F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, which has played a large role in the war on Yemen, and for this reason the weapons sale was supposedly under review.
Whilst the ‘under review’ weapons deal with Saudi Arabia – worth almost 500 Billion primarily in armaments – is yet to be commented on by the Biden administration, an indication of any US government intention to stop the deal is absent.
In early February President Biden signaled that under his administration the US-Saudi relationship was heading towards a massive shift. Joe Biden stated that he sought to end the war in Yemen, responsible for the number one humanitarian crisis on the planet, asserting that US support for “offensive actions” would stop immediately.
We also heard from Biden that he was going to cancel “relevant arms sales” to the offensive actions they are now supposed to be opposed to. Yet unfortunately, as is the case with most career politicians, the language the US President used was extremely misleading.
Since Biden’s announcement of stopping US government support for Saudi offensive action against Yemen, the war has only escalated, and as Saudi Arabia’s fighter jets/drones carry out strikes near the cities of Ma’rib and Sanaa, the US has remained completely silent. This is because the US has an endless capacity for describing offensive actions as defensive in essence.
If the US government truly wished to end the offensive war in Yemen, then the immediate decision should have been to cancel all weapons sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Yet, the UAE can now look forward to being rewarded with high tech killer drones and the latest US fighter jet technology, clearly not to be used for defensive purposes.
The US has in practice removed Yemen’s Ansarallah, which controls the country’s capital Sanaa, from the designated terrorist list, yet this is just not good enough. The terrorist designation, as an 11th hour decision from the Trump administration, would have made it more difficult for international aid to find its way to the some 12 million impoverished children of Yemen, however the biggest obstacle still remains the illegal blockade.
The Saudi imposed blockade of Yemen’s Hodeidah Port and Sanaa Airport, with the complicity of the US, EU and UK, has destroyed the breadline to Yemen. The blockade is perhaps the single worst killer of Yemeni civilians and has driven the country’s population to the depths of extreme poverty by depriving them of the basic necessities needed for survival.
The single biggest smoking gun confirming Biden’s backpedaling on opposing Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations and offensive war in Yemen, came late this February with the US’s inaction against KSA Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. This came despite a CIA report having confirmed the role of the Crown Prince in the murder of US based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. During the President’s campaign run he had promised to crack down on leading Saudi figures and punish those responsible for the Khashoggi killing.
As the war in Yemen only intensifies, Joe Biden is nowhere to be seen on the issue. There has been no condemnation or attempt to publicly prevent Saudi Arabia from bombarding Yemen, no indication that weapons sales will actually stop, and no push to end the blockade. If we are to consider what the US government sees as a “defensive weapon” by its recent sale of fighter jets to the UAE or by the airstrikes committed by Saudi Arabia that they fail to address, then it isn’t looking good as to whether the US will be stopping its arms sales to the Kingdom. Another display of how meaningless the words of US elitists are when it comes to meaningful action.
There is no reason to keep the people of Yemen living in starvation and abject poverty, other than out of a malicious and self-serving intent. The Saudi-led coalition have failed to defeat their Ansarallah/Houthi opponents, and failing to solve the issue soon will cost potentially hundreds of thousands of more lives – completely unnecessarily.