Our peacemaker president has struck again. Barack Obama, a nobel Laureate—lest we forget—is already fighting at least four active ground wars, presiding over several more aerial drone campaigns, and sending American forces back to Iraq. Having allowed himself to become almost wholly assimilated into the Washington do-something foreign policy establishment, he’s now edging into yet another conflict, this one in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a bloody air war against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels for the past year and a half, vaporized a funeral in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, killing at least 140. The United States has been aiding the Saudi campaign and fragments of our bombs were located at the scene of the crime, sparking a furor across the country. The following day, the USS Mason, a destroyer stationed off the Yemeni coast, shot down two cruise missiles believed to have been fired by the Houthis (although the rebels deny this). The Navy retaliated by destroying three Houthi radar sites, and last weekend the Mason was once again targeted for attack.
This snowballing has gone on for over a week now and the risk of continued escalation is very real. American and British officials are trying to run interference, ramping up their calls for an immediate ceasefire, but to the Houthis this no doubt seems like a tardy face-saver, after months of made-in-the-USA bombs whistling down on civilians. In March, the Saudis used an American munition to blow up a market, killing at least 97. In August, they struck a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing at least 11. This is moral madness and the consequence has been utterly predictable: anti-American resentment among the Houthis that at last ballooned into an outright attack. Don’t believe those issuing “Remember the Maine” panegyrics over the Mason—it was the Obama administration, not the Houthis, who initiated hostilities here, by backing the Saudis’ dirty little war.
The Houthis are benefiting from limited Iranian assistance, which has led many in the American media to chatter about how Yemen is the latest front in the Saudi-Iranian proxy war. It is, sort of, but more accurately it’s a local conflict, engendered by years of the government neglecting the Houthi north and propagated by divisions that have been thickly etched since Yemen’s civil war back in 1994. The United States has no dog in this fight—our Houthi “enemy” hates Sunni jihadism just as much as we do. It’s our great and glorious ally Saudi Arabia that’s bolstering al-Qaeda, as their airstrikes drive indigent Yemenis towards the only group that seems equipped enough to help them.
That our role in Yemen has left us fueling al-Qaeda and attacking al-Qaeda’s enemies should tell you everything you need to know. Neoconservatives continue to wave the bloody shirt around, eager to perpetrate a war with Iran. They should be resisted. Our involvement in Yemen is fundamentally immoral and giving tits that provoke further tats will only prolong that country’s awful brutalization.