Yemen: More Damage To World Peace And Security Due To Trump Wrecking Everything As He Exits

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.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    Read somewhere that Trump declaring the Houthis also sticks it to the Saudis. The Saudis are trying to work out how to exit their own version of Vietnam in Yemen which means that they actually have to negotiate with the Houthis to do so. But if Trump goes ahead and declares the Houthis to be terrorists, then it will be impossible for the Saudis to negotiate directly with them without incurring sanctions from the US for dealing with “terrorists.”

    1. fajensen

      Donald Trump and his handlers are probably angry that Pompeo couldn’t make Saudi Arabia and Israel start a war with Iran before Joe Biden takes over.

      The thing is that while Saudi Arabia and Israel might not like Iran very much, they absolutely does not trust the USA to keep any promises – especially when they are made by a goon representing an outgoing president. The timing of the single missile landing on Aramco makes one suspect it was a kind reminder from Iran, that there are a lot of good targets in Saudi Arabia.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I think the only hope for Yemen is that Liberal Democrats think of it the way Trump saw Iran. I strongly suspect that his primary reason for being so distractive on Iran relations is that he wanted to destroy Obama’s legacy. Maybe the people of Yemen might benefit if Dem neocons see going hard on the Saudi’s over Yemen as a similar way of dissing Trumps legacy.

    Its unfortunate that given the look of Bidens nominees so far, this doesn’t look likely.

  3. Alex morfesis

    But no kute khat videos ?? Ignoring the criminal elements in Yemen and the “profits” from a disruptable product “marketed” as a “way of life” to compliant legacy media types told to “respect the ‘culture'”…

    Fentynalistanistas are ignored in our flyover parts and the same seems to be happening to the khatistanis…

    Nothing much changes…lest we talk about the NYTs staffers walking past the “Minnesota strip” all those years in Times Square as the “empathetic” paper of record ignored what was right under it’s nose…

  4. David

    It’s odd, isn’t it, how the world always revolves around Washington and what the US does?
    This action is stupid and counter-productive, but it won’t do much to change the reality on the ground: the US is not a major player in the conflict anyway. The fault lines in the country are essentially between feudal groups and the recent problems date essentially from independence and the subsequent fusion of different countries with different cultures.
    There’s no doubt that the Iranians are quietly helping the Houthis, as part of their strategy of undermining the Saudis. If you look at a map you can see why the Saudis are worried about this: they have a vast territory which is impossible to secure, a corrupt and ineffective political system and a restive Shia minority. Nothing that the US (or any other western power) does is going to change that. All that we can hope for is that the US elites’ forty-year obsession with Iran finally goes away, or at least moderates, because it has been, and still is, a major destabilising factor in the region as a whole, even if it’s a minor strand in this story.

  5. LowellHighlander

    Am I the only one who sees supreme irony in the U.S. government’s designating others as terrorists?

  6. Aamer

    I’m not sure if this is a typo or a mistake but Iran is Twelver Shi’a. In the article, it says 12-iman, which I assume is a typo meant to be “imam”, which also works. Just thought I’d mention that, sorry.

  7. ira

    You haven’t emphasized the most important aspect of all: literally MILLIONS of lives could be lost
    (in the words of the Secretary General of the U.N., António Guterres, speaking two or three days ago.) As is, 80% of Yemenis rely on humanitarian aid to survive, and practically 100% of children do. 60% of Yemen’s 30 million population live under Houthi control, in the northern part of the country. The country is on the brink of famine. ‘Once famine hits, it’s already too late’, said David Beasley, executive director of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the World Food Program. Hundreds of thousands will be condemned to starving to death — mostly babies, young children, and pregnant women — even if aid is restored.

    As usual, the famine is not caused by a natural process, but rather by a medieval-style sea, land, and air blockade undertaken by the Saudis, augmented by help from the U.S, the U.K.,and France (I’m not sure whether the UAE is still involved). The U.N.’s consolidated special appeal this year for Yemen of ~$3 Billion has been pitifully donated to: at last count only about half of that amount had been pledged.

    Ken Griffin of Citadel Capital spent $237 Million on a NYC apartment, that he probably visits a few times a year at most. Stephen Schwartzman, head of Blackstone, pays himself $700 Million a year. Jeff Bezos could sell $2 Billion of Amazon stock while reshuffling his portolio, with no effect on the share price, and without him even noticing the slightest change in his net worth.

    A holocaust is happening in real time before our eyes.

    1. fajensen

      A holocaust is happening in real time before our eyes

      Nope. It is invisible. Not Newsworthy at all. “The Blob” definitely learned their agit-prop lessons first from Vietnam, then the Iraq war and finally their failure to persuade anyone to support their war in Syria. To even hear anything about Yemen at all one has to go off the safe reservation and over to those cray-cray bloggers.

      The recent rocket attack on Aramco didn’t make the news here (SE) either.

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