US President Joe Biden broke international headlines this Thursday, announcing that the United States would end its support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. The announcement was met with much praise, however, the reality is that Biden is not ending the war at all.
The speech delivered by President Biden, outlining the intended direction of his foreign policy, reflected his administration’s intent to continue US militarism and imperialism. Instead of a critical analysis of what he had stated of his administration’s intent to confront superpowers such as China and Russia, praise was heaped onto Biden for stating that he is ending the war in Yemen.
Joe Biden stated that he would no longer support the Saudi led coalition’s war on Yemen and added that he would renew efforts to bring all parties to the table in order to engage in peace talks.
If you were to read the articles published by leading publications such as Reuters and the Associated Press, you would come away with the impression that Biden was making a groundbreaking announcement. However, there’s only one small problem with the announcement, Joe Biden contradicted that narrative in his own speech.
Joe Biden announced on the issue that he would end US support for “offensive” action by Saudi Arabia and would cancel “relevant” arms sales. He went on to state that he would support “defensive” action from Saudi Arabia, not even naming their opposition, Ansarallah (Houthis), but instead referring to them as Iran’s proxy.
The first point that should be noted here, is that Joe Biden debunked the theory that his administration’s freeze on arms sales to Saudi and the UAE were leading to a scrapping of the deals. In fact it seems now that this is nothing more than a routine procedure, as Biden reassured his Saudi ally’s the US will continue to sell weapons to its number one arms purchaser. This was confirmed by him limiting the cancellation of arms sales, to deals “relevant” to the US’s withdrawal from their support for Saudi’s offensive actions. As for the specifics on which arms deals will be cancelled, we are still left in the dark.
As we already know, the Saudi government does not claim, nor will they claim in the future, that their intentions are offensive in nature. It is also true that the line between offensive and defensive action is often very blurred when it comes to the US’ interpretation of events. This can be taken into special consideration if we observe US support for “pre-emptive” action, meaning that they will justify striking first as being defensive in nature. The assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is an example of the US and its so-called “defense” doctrine, when it comes to taking “pre-emptive” measures.
If we are to take Israel’s mass murder of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, during the Great Return March, as an example, we clearly see where offensive actions are accepted as defense by the United States.
The Great Return March, which began on March 30, 2018, was one of the largest non-violent protest movements in history, by percentage of Gaza’s population that attended. The demonstrators did not kill a single Israeli, and the only Israeli’s that were even injured – during the course of the 1 and half years of protests – were a few soldiers who were mildly hurt after being hit by stones. Those Israeli soldiers, who were stationed behind mounds of dirt, behind walls and fences, behind barbed-wire strips, murdered roughly 330 unarmed Palestinian protesters from a distance, injuring roughly 35,000. Much of the protests were caught on tape, clearly demonstrating Israel’s offensive actions. This was even confirmed by a UNHRC report on the issue, despite being dubbed by the US government as “defensive” in nature.
Then we can turn to the reaction of Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, to Biden’s speech. Faisal bin Farhan immediately took to twitter to state the following:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes the United States’ commitment, expressed in President Biden’s speech today, to cooperate with the Kingdom in defending its security and territory.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes the United States’ commitment, expressed in President Biden’s speech today, to cooperate with the Kingdom in defending its security and territory.
— فيصل بن فرحان (@FaisalbinFarhan) February 4, 2021
The words of the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia clearly illustrate that the Saudi regime has not interpreted Biden’s declaration of “ending support for the war” as a negative. Instead the Saudi leadership have effectively received a green light to continue their offensive operations, all in the name of national defense.
If Saudi Arabia is not playing the Israeli style “right to defend itself” card, then it will turn to the excuse that it must act to defend the interests of their puppet President in Yemen, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and his forces. In the name of defending Yemeni democracy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been using the excuse of fighting for Yemen’s “legitimate” government for years, and in the process, utterly destroying Yemen itself.
If Joe Biden is to actually make any progress towards a peace deal and an end to the conflict in Yemen, he must first remove Ansarallah from the designated foreign terrorist organisation list. Without negating the damage that the designation will do to the prospects of transferring aid into Yemen, there cannot be an end to the number one humanitarian crisis on the planet.
What also needs to be understood about Biden’s seemingly anti-Saudi shift in policy positions, is that his administration is seeking to pressure the Kingdom, for the dual purpose of forcing it to normalise ties with Israel and to deter it from getting closer to the emerging superpowers of Russia and China.
Another means of forcing Saudi Arabia’s hand, may be the eventual propping up of the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) militia, which was previously at war with Saudi-backed forces, but now resides in Aden as part of the current “unity government”. If the UAE is given the backing to oust Saudi-backed Hadi forces, this may prove detrimental to the aims of the Saudi’s war.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to install President Hadi in control of Yemen once again, in order to have him operate as their puppet and give them access to key ports and allow for Saudi Arabia to build its own pipelines through the country. Currently the Saudis are working on utilizing the Eastern most Province of Yemen, the al-Mahrah Governorate, in order to create a trade passageway which will circumvent the usage of the Strait of Hormuz – controlled by Iran – which it is currently encountering problems with Oman in the process of this mission to gain access to key ports and invest in facilities there.
The main points in all of this, are to acknowledge that Biden’s words were not placed in their proper context by the majority of western press; and that such unjust praise for a man who helped start the war in Yemen, under the Obama administration, is an example of the level of press deception we are currently witnessing.