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Trump to Expand U.S.-Backed Saudi War in Yemen?

As Yemen is pushed closer to the brink of famine, the Trump administration is reportedly considering deepening America’s involvement in the war-torn nation.

According to senior Trump officials, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has asked the White House to lift Obama’s restrictions on U.S. military support for Persian Gulf states “engaged in a protracted civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.”

Even the Washington Post has reported that “Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.” Referring to the Houthi rebels as Iranian-backed, even without any real credible evidence of Iranian involvement in Yemen, indicates the U.S. likely has ulterior motives in the region.

In a memo to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Mattis said “limited support” for Yemen operations being conducted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – including a planned Emirati offensive to retake a key Red Sea port – would help combat a “common threat.” Yemen is home to ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but neither of these groups is the “common threat” Mattis was referring to.

So what is this common threat? As noted by the Washington Post:

“Approval of the request would mark a significant policy shift…It would also be a clear signal of the administration’s intention to move more aggressively against Iran. The Trump White House, in far stronger terms than its predecessor, has echoed Saudi and Emirati charges that Iran is training, arming and directing the Shiite Houthis in a proxy war to increase its regional clout against the Gulf’s Sunni monarchies.”

The U.S. and the U.K. are already deeply involved in this conflict, though the mainstream media attempts to portray their involvement as “limited.” In actuality. the United States and the United Kingdom actively promote this crippling war by sitting in the Saudis’ control center and by providing military assistance to the coalition to carry out strikes. The U.S. and U.K. have also facilitated billions of dollars worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. President Trump has continued this longstanding practice of arming the kingdom, as well as conducting deadly raids of his own in Yemen. The United Kingdom has made ten times more in profit in Yemen than it has given in aid, confirming the fact that war is big business and civilian lives continue to matter very little.

Largely missing from the mainstream narrative is the fact that, as published by various entities including Wikileaks, over the weekend, thousands of Yemenis protested Saudi Arabia’s brutal war of aggression. Despite this, according to Mattis’ memo, the U.S. is considering backing a UAE-led operation that would push the Houthis from Yemen’s port of Hodeida.

While the U.S. pretended to be up in arms over alleged human rights abuses in Syria, and while it bombs Iraq back into the Stone Age, the truth is the U.S.-backed war against Yemen’s civilian population does not have the support of the people who matter the most: the people of Yemen. Therefore, any attempt to drive out the Houthis, a movement that has the support of Yemen’s former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh (who still retains the loyalty of Yemen’s armed forces), amounts to a concoction of foreign powers imposing their will upon a defenseless civilian population.

In that context, the attempted ouster of Yemen’s Saudi-backed leader in 2015 is a far more organic uprising than what has been taking place in Syria over the past decade, yet Western leaders fail to make that distinction. It should be clear that human rights concerns are never at the forefront of current decision-making, and as such, we should remain skeptical of the Trump administration’s intentions.

Darius Shahtahmasebi
Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst, currently specializing in immigration, refugee and humanitarian law. Contact Darius: Support Darius' work on Patreon:

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