September 18, 2019 | 49° F

WASON: US support of horrific tragedies in Yemen is reprehensible


Opinion Column: Disputed Territory


The Saudi-induced, U.S.-backed hell faced by the Yemeni population represents the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — an act perhaps matched only in shame by the lack of attention a free press like our own decides to allocate toward covering it. The Saudi assault has been carried out via military strikes that have resulted in at the deaths of at least 18,000 civilians — this, while increasingly tightening their grip on the economic stranglehold they have Yemen wrapped in, puts just about its entire population at risk of severe famine. 

Approximately 24 million people, or 80 percent of the entire Yemeni population, are in urgent need of “assistance and protection,” according to the United Nations. There are 2 million children under the age of 5 that require treatment for acute malnutrition with a further 5.2 million children at direct risk of falling into famine. 

As of approximately 17 hours prior to this writing, seven of these children have been removed from the aforementioned lists — a Saudi air raid, loaded with American weapons, targeted a warehouse in the Houthi rebel-held Yemeni capital of Sanaa resulting in their deaths in addition to six others. They were removed from the list of starving and added to the list of dead without much notice. 

The complicit attitude held by U.S. foreign policy makers regarding the Yemeni crisis is far from an innocent one — it seemingly has less to do with an ally gone rouge than it does with one being given outright immunity to act as they please as they continue to blitz the international norms of acceptable behavior. After all, these are the same allies who murdered dissident Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just six months ago — a crime which the top levels of Saudi government have vehemently denied having prior knowledge of but have nevertheless been paying blood money to his children as compensation. 

But, it must be noted that throughout the case of the Khashoggi murder as well as the ongoing travesty taking place in Yemen, it has been President Donald J. Trump who has unilaterally sided with the Saudis in both instances, even when faced with the rarest of circumstances these days in Washington — bipartisan condemnation from Congress of the White House. 

When the international outrage sparked by the Khashoggi murder momentarily brought Saudi behavior into mainstream focus, he repeatedly referenced arms deals as being his justification for overlooking these atrocities. In particular, $110 billion in sales to American military contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin in addition to $340 billion in other investments personally promised by the Saudis to Trump upon his election victory in 2016. What cruel irony it is that the cash he so desperately sought is reigning down upon innocent Yemeni civilians in the form of 500-pound bombs

The Republican-led Senate voted last month to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The bipartisan measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as well as Republican Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), passed the Democrat-controlled House this past Thursday. But, Trump is expected to wield his veto power in order to shield Saudi Arabia from attempts by a united Congress and a largely united international community to curtail their egregious assault on civility. 

The complicated, complex sociopolitical environment that currently exists domestically makes our foreign policy almost an afterthought, especially if not mentioned within the context of Afghanistan or Iraq. While this should not be the case, it is to a degree understandable given the previously mentioned lack of media coverage that has been given to the Yemeni crisis. 

Still, the one thing that should make all of our ears perk up is the fact that Republicans and Democrats agree on something. It may not be the answers any of us, regardless of party-affiliation, are looking for regarding hot-button domestic issues such as immigration or healthcare — but it is a matter of life and death to more than 22 million innocent Yemeni civilians and we should have the time to care. 

There is no question that the U.S. remains the hegemonic power globally. Experts are clear that the Saudis quite simply could not carry on with their military operation in Yemen without U.S. backing. If Trump does indeed veto the bipartisan measure ending U.S. support for the Saudi atrocities in Yemen, we will remain complicit as a nation. If we as citizens fail to speak up, fail to cause an adequate amount of uproar within mainstream political discourse, then we are complicit as individuals. Let us make sure this is not the case.

Amar Wason is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. His column, “Disputed Territory,” runs on alternate Tuesdays. 

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Amar Wason

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