Yves here. The headline is a bit heated, particularly in light of Biden naming uber-hawk Tony Blinken as Secretary of State in waiting. Nevertheless, Barkley Rosser is correct to call out Trump’s bizarrely punitive departing act of designating a Yemen operation controlling a big chunk of the country as terrorists.
And a reason for featuring this post, including its mention of Rachel Maddow, is to demonstrate that Goodthinking Liberals who are actually paying attention to the Middle East expect Biden to dial down support for the war in Yemen, if nothing else to send a message to the rancid Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. To put it more cynically, it would be a pretty low-cost way differentiate the Biden Administration from Trump’s, by getting it out of one human rights horror and applying pressure to MbS. So pay attention to this litmus test.
By Barkley Rosser, Professor of Economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Originally published at EconoSpeak
Michigan certified its vote results for Biden, and now crucially Emily Murphey at the GSA has agreed and now recognized officially that at least Joe Biden should be allowed to transition properly as has always happened in the past normally.
But in his lame duckery, still denying his obvious loss, Donald Trump is trashing everything in sight. Very serious matters of foreign policy are part of this. One of these has been discussed in comments here previously, the removal from the Open Skies Treaty, which right now I am watching Rachel Maddow report that DOD is destroying the planes US used for this. Ack!!!
But for this post I am noting another awful thing they are doing along a bunch of others. This involves Yemen, long one of the worst humanitarian disasters on the planet, horrible, but so in place for so long that most people pay no attention anymore because, bore, been there done that snore. But it continues to be a place of ongoing civilian deaths from bombs and economic deprivation.
So, just to make things “better,” the Trump admin has decided to declare that the Houthi group who rule not only most of northern Yemen, but also its capitol, Sana’a, to be officially a “terrorist group.” The immediate result of this ruling is that all kinds of humanitarian aid that has been going to people in the parts of Yemen they live in will no longer receive it. This is morally awful and just plain stupid.
So this is part of Trump frustrated in his anti-Iran policy. He exited the Iran nuclear treaty, leading to a massive increase in enriched uranium there. Ooops! He killed a top general from there to stop attacks on US forces in Iraq by Iranian militias. But those continue, with more political support in Iraq. Duh.
The argument for this move on the Houthis is that they are backed by Iran, which they are. But that is a far secondary matter. The Houthis are Zaydi Shia in contrast with the 12-Iman Shia of Iran, not close at all. While Trump admin has long claimed Iran has armed them, most evidence has suggested not much. Most of the Houthi arms are leftover US arms.
The other part of this is the Saudis, who have been waging war against the Houthis, with Trump deeply tied to the murderous Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has been behind this awful war against the Houthis in Yemen, support that dates back to the Obama admin. This makes this a serious issue for the incoming Biden admin. I note that Congress has in recent years moved away from supporting this horrendous war in Yemen that has led to massive deaths among innocent civilians. Those votes that had support from many GOPs in Congress were turned down by Trump vetoes. So, I think it will not be that hard for Biden to finally end this corrupt relation between Trump and MbS to end US support for this war.