I. The “Forgotten War”
“Where is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis?”
Ask the average American that question and you’ll most likely be met with the response “Syria” or perhaps a blank stare.
That answer makes sense considering 13 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid. But while the Syrian conflict has rightfully received a great deal of the western media’s Middle East coverage, according to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, a different country is currently home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis: Yemen.
To put the crisis into perspective, here are just a few numbers showing how Yemen, which was already one of the world’s poorest countries before its civil war began, is spiraling out of control:
- More than 22 million Yemenis or three-quarters of the entire population is in need of “humanitarian aid and protection”.
- 18 million people are food insecure and of those, 8.4 million people do not know how they will obtain their next meal.
- More than two million people are internally displaced.
- More than 279,000 Yemenis are refugees and asylum seekers.
You would be forgiven if you didn’t know an international conflict and humanitarian catastrophe is currently taking place in this Gulf country of 27 million people. Yemen is frequently called the “forgotten war”, and with the exception of a slight uptick in coverage following the bombing of a school bus full of children, and passing mentions of the crisis after the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, cable news has barely covered Yemen.
Consider just one eye-opening study published earlier this year by the media criticism organization, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). According to FAIR’s analysis, between July 3, 2017, and July 3, 2018, cable network MSNBC covered the war in Yemen a grand total of zero times. FAIR found that the network covered the Stormy Daniels affair 455 times in the same time period.
The lack of coverage is not merely due to viewer apathy and network executives deeming the war a “ratings killer”, but also because it is prohibitively difficult for international journalists to get into the country to report on the ground. Saudi Arabia, which is conducting and overseeing military operations in Yemen, has put in place severe media restrictions.
The international airport in the country’s capital, Sana’a, which is currently held by a rebel group called the Houthis, has been closed to commercial air traffic since August 2016.
Furthermore, only 22 percent of Yemenis are estimated to have internet access, making it difficult to even get reports from citizen journalists within the country.
For the few international journalists that are allowed into Yemen, the hoops to jump through border on ridiculous.
Dina El Mamoun, the Head of Policy and Advocacy in Yemen for Oxfam International, who has been conducting research missions in Yemen since 2003 told Rogue Rocket News:
“Access to the country for us as [non-governmental organizations] is not easy, let alone for journalists. So the restrictions — really from the moment you apply for a visa, right up to getting into the country and once you’re in the country to move around between different cities [mean] you need approvals at every point of the way, so that has obviously meant that the Yemen crisis doesn’t get adequate attention.”
As the war has dragged on, media access has become even more restrictive. Last year, three BBC journalists carrying all the right paperwork had their plane grounded when they tried to board a flight to Sana’a and had to sneak into the country via boat.
More recently, one of the few western reporters to actually enter the country, Jane Ferguson, a special correspondent for PBS NewsHour, had to smuggle herself in disguised as a Yemeni woman dressed in a full veil.
Even when the crisis is covered by major media networks, necessary context and vital information about the conflict are left out.
For example, in November 2017, 60 Minutes broadcast a 13-minute piece about the war that criticized Saudi Arabia’s involvement in creating the country’s humanitarian crisis, but never mentioned that the United States is a major ally of Saudi Arabia and has played a significant role in the Yemen campaign as well.
With that said, here is a comprehensive explanation of how Yemen reached the crisis it’s in today and why Americans should care about a war taking place thousands of miles from their own shores.
II. Modern History
20th Century Yemen
Yemen is located south of Saudi Arabia with a southwest corner that juts out into a narrow strait of water called Bab-el-Mandeb, which separates the strategic waterways of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Every day, 4.8 million barrels of oil pass through this strait. That’s nearly half the amount of oil the U.S. imports in a day, making this commercial passageway vitally important to the world economy, as UCLA Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, James Gelvin, told Rogue Rocket News:
“You have two failed states bordering on one of the world’s most important oil chokepoints and those states are Somalia on the one hand and Yemen on the other hand and everybody wants to be able to call the shots in the future as to what’s going to happen in that particular choke point.”
Yemen has had a long history of being used as a pawn in conflicts between major powers and in the early 1900’s, the country was split between two empires, with the Ottomans in control of the north and the British in control of the south.
The Ottoman Empire collapsed following the end of World War I in 1918, and an independent monarchy known as the Mutawakkilite Kingdom took its place. The Kingdom was led by followers of Zaidism, a sect of Shiite Islam that believes Muslims have an ethical and legal obligation to rise up and depose unjust leaders who take power in their territories.
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom remained in place until 1962, when a separate Zaidi military faction known as the Republicans overthrew the monarchy and established an Arab nationalist government in today’s capital city of Sana’a.
Meanwhile, in the south, British control of southern Yemen was slipping away. A five-year violent insurgency led by forces upset with imperial rule forced the British out of the country in 1967, and by 1970, Marxists, backed by the Soviet Union took control of southern Yemen.
The Rise of Saleh
In 1978, a military leader, named Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had participated in the campaign to overthrow the monarchy in the north became President of northern Yemen.
Through a combination of ruthlessness and savvy, Saleh stayed in power for decades and in 1990, he unified northern and southern Yemen into one country, with the south eventually accepting Saleh as its ruler.
However, because of the long years of division between north and south, and what southerners viewed as a corrupt government in the north that marginalized its needs, the bad blood continued between the two sides.
1994 Civil War
With tensions rising, in 1994 a civil war ignited between north and south Yemen. The southern side was backed by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country which felt threatened by a united Shiite nation on its border.
The war was short-lived, lasting just over two months as Saleh’s troops easily crushed the southern rebellion. Saleh’s victory allowed him to consolidate his power even further, and get away with unchecked, mind-boggling corruption.
Saleh is believed to have amassed between $32 billion and $60 billion during his 33 years in power, according to a U.N. report. For perspective, during Saleh’s rule, Yemen’s average annual GDP was $35 billion.
The Rise of the Houthis, Al Qaeda & The Southern Movement
This corruption only worsened poverty levels and the poor state of government services for Yemenis, leading to the rise of several opposition movements in the country:
- The Houthis: A Shiite Islam, Zaidi sect that emerged in opposition to Saleh’s corruption.
- The Southern Movement: a movement started in 2007 that called for an independent southern Yemen.
- Al Qaeda: A Sunni Islamist terrorist group that eventually became known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, after the Saudi and Yemeni branches of the group merged in 2009.
While these active insurgencies were terrible for average Yemenis and the stability of the country, Al Qaeda’s presence was beneficial for Saleh in the short term. The U.S., which had previously been lukewarm about his leadership, was much more willing to provide Yemen with weapons and support in order to fight the terrorist group.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the political interests of the Houthis broadened. The group had previously focused on internal politics, but the U.S. presence in Iraq made the Houthis wary of U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia interfering in their country.
As Saleh began to recognize the Houthi’s growing threat to his power, he launched a series of military campaigns to destroy the rebellion, even killing the founder of the movement in 2004.
Despite launching six different campaigns against the Houthis between 2004 and 2010, Saleh was unable to quash the group, leaving an active rebellion simmering below the surface.
The Arab Spring
In 2011, a series of protest movements swept across the Middle East known as the Arab Spring and Yemen was no exception.
On January 27, more than 16,000 protesters, including Houthis, demonstrated in Sana’a, demanding that Saleh step down after more than three decades in power. By 2012, Saleh resigned, handing over power to his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
III. The War
Saleh vs. Hadi
Hadi is Sunni and had previously been named as Saleh’s Vice President at the request of Saudi Arabia. Even though the Houthis had achieved their goal of getting Saleh to step down, they were unhappy that his successor was someone who was not an ally to their cause.
With help from international and regional actors, a two-year transition period was implemented with the goal of bringing peace to Yemen and allowing for some sort of power-sharing agreement between the many competing factions. In 2014, a presidential panel agreed to divide the country into six regions, each one with relative autonomy.
While this seemed like a good deal on the surface, the Houthis were unhappy that the Zaidi dominated areas were split into two landlocked entities that divided their power.
So in a twist worthy of a Star Wars movie, who did the Houthis turn to in order take back power and overthrow Hadi? Their mortal enemy, Saleh.
Saleh happily obliged, as this was his chance to enact revenge against the people who had removed him from power. Much of the national army was still loyal to Saleh and the coalition between the two sides was a force to be reckoned with.
With their alliance intact, Houthi military forces gradually moved closer and closer to Sana’a, storming the capital in September 2014.
In order to maintain some semblance of control, Hadi’s government eventually signed a U.N. backed power-sharing agreement in the hopes that a new unity government would quell the violence.
But peace was not meant to be.
As both sides jockeyed for power, Hadi was forced to resign in January 2015 under threat from the Houthis. He was placed under house arrest for a month before escaping to the strategic port city of Aden, retracting his resignation and declaring himself the legitimate leader of the country.
Encouraged by their progress, Saleh-Houthi forces moved further south to try and take Aden and on March 25, 2015, the Houthis took control of the city’s international airport, forcing Hadi to flee by boat to Saudi Arabia to lead his government in exile.
Saudi Arabia Gets Involved
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia was watching all of this take place on its southern border and was not pleased with what it was seeing. In particular, the Saudis believed that the Houthis were aligning themselves with Iran, a Shiite country that is constantly competing with Saudi Arabia for regional control in the Middle East. According to Professor James Gelvin:
“Undoubtedly the most important reason why Saudi Arabia is concerned about Yemen is [the] Saudis increasing paranoia about what they perceive to be an Iranian threat and they think that…the so-called Houthi rebellion is a part of an Iranian master plan to expand its influence throughout the Middle East.”
There is a debate over just how closely Iran is aligned with the Houthis, but what is clear is that Iran has contributed to the conflict, as Gelvin explains:
“The Iranians undoubtedly are giving weapons right now to the Houthis, they’re selling weapons to the Houthis and the Houthis are gladly taking those weapons as well. The point at which this began is under dispute, the nature of the ties between the Houthis and the Iranians are also under dispute.”
From Saudi Arabia’s perspective, in order to ensure that Iran did not establish a proxy state in Yemen, the Saudis entered the Yemeni civil war at Hadi’s request.
On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm. The Saudis along with a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Bahrain began striking Houthi targets from the air.
A domestic civil war turned into an international crisis.
As the campaign continued, Saleh and the Houthis announced a formal alliance to fight the Saudi coalition, forming a government in Sana’a run by five members of Saleh’s political party and five Houthi leaders.
Along with Saudi aerial strikes, a partial naval blockade was imposed, severely restricting the supply of vital resources into the country. This blockade was further tightened in November 2017, after the Houthis launched a ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia’s international airport outside the capital of Riyadh that was intercepted by the country’s missile defense system.
Saudi Arabia claimed that Iran had smuggled the missile into the country and that a total blockade was necessary to prevent the Iranians from sending in more weapons. The Saudis only lifted the total blockade after international outcry over its impact on the country’s food and medical supplies.
Meanwhile, the alliance between Saleh and the Houthis began to crumble, as the Houthis discovered that Saleh had been secretly talking with the UAE, a primary coalition member. In December 2017, Saleh announced on live television that he was officially abandoning his alliance with the Houthis and called on his supporters to take back the country.
That speech may as well have been a death wish.
Two days later he was killed in a roadside attack by Houthi rebels as he tried to flee Sana’a.
Where Things Stand Today
Despite the Saudi coalition spending billions of dollars, using much more advanced weaponry than the Houthis, conducting more than 145,000 missions and launching more than 18,000 airstrikes, the coalition has little to show other than taking back control of Aden from the Houthis.
Amidst the ongoing war of attrition, AQAP has been able to expand its territory and influence and friends have become foes. Southern movement fighters, who have been reluctantly allied with Hadi and his Arab coalition partners, fought his forces earlier this year, briefly seizing control of Aden.
A new front has opened up in the war in the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah. The battle for Hodeidah is particularly horrific for Yemen’s civilians because Hodeidah and another nearby port account for 80 percent of the country’s food imports.
While the port itself has not yet been attacked, the Saudi-led offensive on the surrounding city has already had a devastating impact on the local population as Oxfam International’s Dina El Mamoun explained to Rogue Rocket News:
“People are fleeing in hundreds of thousands now, it’s more than 150,000 since the start of the offensive and worse than that, we know that some people are also trying to flee, but are not able to, either because it is too expensive to do so…or because they have physically been not allowed to move forward to flee.”
While overall casualty numbers are all over the place and difficult to verify, according to the most recent report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, there have been more than 6,500 civilians killed in the violence. This is likely a severe underestimate, as other U.N. figures have put the death toll at more than 16,000.
There have been a few U.N. sponsored talks that took place between the Houthis and coalition forces in 2015 and 2016, but all of them ended in failure, and the most recent effort in September, collapsed after Houthi representatives failed to show up.
Throughout the war, both the Houthis and Saudi coalition forces have been accused of committing war crimes that have contributed to the humanitarian catastrophe, as Kristine Beckerle, Yemen Researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), explained to Rogue Rocket News:
“This is the world’s worst and largest humanitarian crisis that is man-made, it didn’t just come out of nowhere, it’s not a natural disaster, there are clear individuals and states who are responsible and individuals and states who if they were to change their behavior could save literally millions, without exaggeration, of people.”
According to HRW since the war began the Houthis have placed widely banned antipersonnel mines in areas populated by civilians, killing and maiming hundreds of people.
There have also been allegations that the Houthis have committed arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, and torture against some of its prisoners with at least 117 documented cases of deaths in custody caused by torture or neglect.
One prisoner who was later released after his family paid ransom money told Al Jazeera:
“I spent 50 days in an underground prison with barely any oxygen. I was hung by my wrists from the ceiling and left in my own [feces] and urine to rot. I wasn’t allowed to wash once. They extracted my fingernails and used a cable to press onto the flesh underneath. I lost consciousness from the sheer amount of pain. They burned me with fire and dipped me in water that they’d run an electric current through. They beat me with all sorts of electric cables and iron rods.”
A 2017 U.N. report, also found that the Houthis have recruited over 1,100 child soldiers.
Despite the horror of these accounts, most of the casualties in the conflict are a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi coalition. According to an August 2017 U.N. draft report, 60 percent of child casualties have been the responsibility of the Saudis and their partners.
Furthermore, an estimated 31 percent of the strikes have not hit military targets.
Among these alternate targets are marketplaces, funeral homes, refugee camps, hospitals, rehab centers, and water treatment facilities. Many targets are bombed repeatedly, such as a single marketplace in the district of Sirwah that has been bombed at least 24 times.
A single strike on a wedding party in April of this year killed at least 20 people. Another strike two months later hit a Doctors Without Borders healthcare facility, killing 19 people and forcing the organization to pull its staff out of Yemen. In August, an airstrike hit a school bus filled with students attending a summer camp, killing dozens of civilians, including 40 children.
Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have also been known to use a widely internationally banned bomb known as a cluster munition. These are bombs that release smaller munitions that often don’t explode and act as de facto landmines for years to come.
Perhaps most significantly, Saudi Arabia’s on-again, off-again blockade has had a dire impact on the Yemeni people. Only limited shipments are allowed into rebel-held ports, leading food prices to increase by more than 150 percent since before the war.
Even when shipments of supplies are allowed to enter the country, getting them to those in need can be a nightmare for humanitarian organizations, as El Mamoun explains:
“Last year, Oxfam had flown in supplies to deal with cholera…basically, it took us two months in order to get that to the people that need it. There are restrictions along the way, some of it [is] bureaucratic, some of it [is] sort of procedural, but overall that is really compounding an already dire situation.”
Fuel tankers have been delayed or diverted, meaning there is a severe shortage of fuel to power generators in hospitals and pump water to civilians.
IV. The Humanitarian Crisis
“A Living Hell” for 11 Million Children
Children have been particularly vulnerable during the crisis. According to U.N. Secretary Guterres, every ten minutes a child under the age of five dies from preventable causes and two million children are unable to attend school in Yemen.
Dr. Meritxell Relaño, the Resident Representative in Yemen for UNICEF, who is on the ground in Sana’a, told Rogue Rocket News:
“The conflict has made Yemen actually a living hell for almost 11 million children…We have 1.5 million children acutely malnourished, including almost 400,000 severe acutely malnourished children that are fighting for their lives actually, those are those children that we see on the TV that are just skin and bones.”
Beyond the physical toll, is the war’s psychological impact on Yemen’s children, as Dr. Relaño explains:
“For a long time…the children [have heard] the sounds of war, and it’s terrifying, even for us that are adults here. It’s not so easy to hear the shooting, the shelling, the bombing, etc. This is really terrifying for the children. They don’t know if they will be able to go out to the streets and play, they don’t know if they will be able to go to school tomorrow. If they go to school they don’t know if there’s going to be an attack and they will have to leave the school, so it’s a very uncertain situation for them psychologically.”
Another side effect of the war in Yemen has been skyrocketing child marriage rates. In order to cope with severe poverty, children are getting married at younger and younger ages, with nearly two-thirds of girls in the country married before the age of 18.
The World’s Worst Cholera Outbreak
One of the most significant problems to emerge from the ongoing military conflict has been a horrific cholera outbreak, a bacterial disease that leads to severe watery diarrhea and vomiting contracted by drinking or eating infected water or food.
The disease is easily treatable, but without access to clean water to flush the system, it can be fatal, and without fuel to make the water pumps work people have no choice but to drink filthy water.
Yemen’s outbreak began in October 2016 with just a few cases recorded in Sana’a, but spread like wildfire and in December 2017, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that Yemen had just recorded its one-millionth case of cholera.
That makes the cholera outbreak in Yemen the largest and fastest growing outbreak in modern history. Dr. Relaño said there are a number of reasons for the high infection rate:
“Half of the health centers are not working, so if you can imagine, a child that gets diarrhea because of the water being not clean or because the food is not properly treated, doesn’t have access to a health center. This diarrhea gets worse and then other members of the family get contaminated, so it’s a combination of factors. The water and sanitation factor, the lack of a strong health system and of course poverty.”
The good news is that efforts by community health workers in Yemen appear to have kept the fatality rate low. Only .22 percent of cases have resulted in deaths.
Health experts were initially hopeful that the cholera epidemic in Yemen reached its peak last year, but due to a sustained bombing campaign in Hodeidah, the outbreak appears to be returning, with more than 15,000 new cases reported in just one week in September.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE donated $930 million to the U.N.’s Yemen Humanitarian Fund to tackle issues like the cholera epidemic, but many media outlets found the donation ironic, given these countries’ roles in creating the crisis in the first place.
V. U.S. Involvement
“100 Percent Complicit”
While several western countries are involved directly or indirectly in Yemen’s war, the U.S. has supported the Saudi coalition with logistics, intelligence, and weapons sales since the beginning.
According to Gelvin, this involvement begs for the American public to pay attention to Yemen’s unfolding crisis:
“This is something that should be on the front burner on the American public psyche at the present time. All we have to do is Google the pictures of the children in Yemen, children who are now susceptible to everything from direct combat deaths from being bombed…to mass starvation…so this is something very important for Americans to focus on because we are absolutely 100 percent complicit in the crimes that are being committed in Yemen.”
Gelvin also said the primary reason the U.S. decided to become involved in Yemen was to appease Saudi Arabia, given the Saudis concern with the Iranian nuclear deal at the start of the war:
“What the Obama Administration wanted to do was sort of temper the Saudis fears about the Iran deal, and so to demonstrate the fact that the United States had Saudi Arabia’s back, we began to participate in this awful war.”
The Obama Administration
In 2015, White House officials drafted a document called the Rice memo, named after then national security advisor, Susan Rice. The memo made clear that the U.S. would only help the Saudis secure their border, but not assist with offensive actions against the Houthis. But for all practical purposes, this has not been the case.
The Obama Administration approved more than $115 billion worth of arms sales to the Saudis, the most by any U.S. administration, according to a report by the Center for International Policy.
Many of these arms, including cluster munitions, have been used by the Saudis in Yemen. Although it should be noted that the U.S. suspended the sale of these munitions in May 2016.
A similar ban was put in place on the sale of laser-guided bombs, after the Saudis dropped a U.S. made bomb on a funeral in Yemen in October 2016, killing at least 155 civilians. According to Beckerle:
“In many of the unlawful attacks that Human Rights Watch has documented, we’ve found U.S. weapons at the site of the unlawful attacks. I think it’s about two dozen attacks at this point where Human Rights Watch did an investigation, determined that it appeared the Saudi led coalition violated the laws of war in airstrikes and also identified the U.S. origin weapons that [were] used in the attack.”
Beyond arms sales, one of the major ways that the U.S. has provided support for Saudi Arabia is by refueling its military planes. Throughout the war, the U.S. Air Force has fueled these planes while in the air, so that they do not have to land before carrying out another attack.
The Trump Administration
Since the Trump Administration has taken power, U.S.-Saudi cooperation in Yemen has become even stronger.
In May 2017, Trump signed multiple letters of intent that would allow Saudi Arabia to purchase $110 billion worth of arms and security technology from the U.S. Although, much of this figure is made up of deals that the Saudis are interested in, not finalized contracts.
According to Beckerle, making these types of deals without demanding that Saudi Arabia stop unlawful air strikes only worsens the situation in Yemen:
“Not just the United States, but also the U.K. and France actually have immense leverage that they could wield to make the war in Yemen a little less horrible…and what’s frustrating is that the United States has arguably the most leverage over various members of the Saudi led coalition…[and] is not yielding that leverage to the maximum effect to ensure that the Saudi led coalition actually stops its violations and credibly holds people accountable who have committed abuses.”
In May of last year, the Trump administration lifted the Obama era hold on the sale of $510 million worth of precision-guided missiles.
At the same time reports of U.S. made weapons being used in civilian attacks have continued. Most recently CNN reported that the bomb used to kill dozens of children in August’s school bus attack was made by American defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
As far as other forms of support, in May The New York Times revealed that the U.S. had secretly deployed ground forces to the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border in late 2017.
According to anonymous U.S. officials and European diplomats, a team of a dozen green berets arrived in December of last year to help the Saudis locate and destroy Houthi ballistic missiles and launch sites that they could use to carry out attacks against Saudi Arabia.
Although there are no confirmed reports that these green berets actually crossed the border, having U.S. troops in the area increases the chances of getting into an armed conflict with the Houthis, reversing the intent of the Rice memo.
Congressional Efforts to Stop Cooperation With Saudi Arabia
Since 2017, there have been multiple pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats and Republicans alike to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi led campaign in Yemen, but none have successfully passed through Congress.
Perhaps the most notable piece of legislation was a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senators Mike Lee, R-Utah, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in March 2018. The resolution called for U.S. forces to be removed from Yemen, except for those engaged in operations against Al Qaeda.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders said:
“The Founding Fathers gave the power to authorize military conflicts to Congress, the branch most accountable to the people…Not to the President but to Congress.”
On the other side, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said:
“Withdrawing U.S. support would increase, not decrease, the risk of civilian casualties. And it would signal that we are not serious about containing Iran or its proxies.”
In a procedural motion that would have advanced the measure, the resolution was shut down by a vote of 55 to 44.
Since then, there has been a renewed effort on the part of some lawmakers to halt weapons sales and cooperation with Saudi Arabia in Yemen following the school bus bombing and Khashoggi murder, but with no tangible action.
President Trump responded to these calls during a 60 Minutes interview in October by saying he is apprehensive about canceling any arms deals with Saudi Arabia because he does not want to “hurt jobs”.
Why is The U.S. in Yemen?
Beyond the importance of Yemen’s proximity to a major commercial waterway, the U.S.’ increasingly active presence in the country seems to be related to its concern over Iran’s growing influence.
U.S. military officials believe that Iran is supplying coastal defense missiles to the Houthis that puts commercial traffic in danger — a not entirely unfounded fear, given that the Houthis have attacked Saudi ships three times this year.
In addition, the U.S. wants to continue its amicable relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, considering these countries are the number one and number four purchasers of U.S. arms.
The U.S. also has an interest in a stable Yemen that can effectively combat the spread of AQAP, a terrorist organization deemed the most dangerous branch of Al-Qaeda.
The question remains, however, are these interests worth the cost of complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis?