In the Name of Protecting Civilians, U.S. Certifies Escalating War Crimes in Yemen

Revolution Newspaper | September 17, 2018

yemen 600px“I certified to Congress yesterday that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”

—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, September 12

The Trump/Pence regime’s “certification” that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were reducing “harm to civilians” is worse than a sham. And so was its claim to be working to “allow unimpeded access” for humanitarian relief and taking actions to lessen the war’s catastrophic impact on Yemeni civilians.

As Pompeo was issuing his statement, Saudi and UAE forces were renewing their assault on Yemen’s critical food and aid lifeline—the port city of Hodeidah—threatening even greater genocidal devastation. And this “certification” was America’s seal of approval—and military backing—to do so!

International Outcry Over U.S.-Saudi-UAE War Crimes in Yemen

Saudi-airstrike-Yemen-August2018-600In a world filled with horrors, the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen, backed by the U.S. and other Western powers, has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and sparked international outrage and condemnation.

It is being waged to defeat Yemen’s Houthis to prevent the spread of Iranian influence, and ensure U.S.-Saudi dominance of this country strategically located along the Red and Arabian Seas. In three and a half years of war—carried out with U.S. planes, bombs, intelligence, and political support—the Saudis and UAE have bombed hospitals, clinics, schools, apartment buildings, markets, gas stations, factories, and farms. At least 16,000 civilians—perhaps as many as 50,000—have been wounded or killed, the great majority by the Saudis and UAE. Yemen’s food, health, and water infrastructure has been shattered, causing the largest cholera epidemic in history, and leaving 22 million in need of humanitarian aid, including 8.4 million on the brink of starvation.

Fears and Divisions Among U.S. Rulers

On August 9, Saudi forces massacred a school bus full of children—killing 40 and wounding another 56—with a U.S.-made, 500-pound MK82 laser-guided bomb.

All this has given rise to growing concerns among a section of the U.S. ruling class and sharp divisions over the U.S. role in the Saudi-UAE war. They aren’t shocked that innocents are being slaughtered. They’re concerned that openly and uncritically backing the Saudi slaughter is damaging U.S. imperialist interests. America, the self-proclaimed “bastion of freedom” and “force for good in the world,” is being exposed as complicit in the slaughter of children before the world. U.S. officials could be charged with carrying out war crimes. A recent Washington Post editorial warned the war was fanning anti-U.S. anger in Yemen, and that it was “unwinnable” and thus a risky gamble for Saudi Arabia, a key client, proxy, and pillar of America’s global empire.

These concerns had led the Obama administration to suspend delivery of certain precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia (after having sold them over $115 billion in weapons, more than any other president) in December 2016, as it continued to back their war overall. This was reversed by the Trump/Pence regime, but last month Congress voted to make certification a requirement for continuing the U.S. military’s midair refueling of Saudi warplanes, which enables them to carry out attacks in Yemen.

Like Obama’s suspension, this was partly a symbolic, face-saving measure, but it also was aimed at pressuring the Saudi-led coalition to curtail some of its worst atrocities. This “certification” never challenged overall U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia, but some in the ruling class are calling on the Saudis to negotiate an end to the war.

In response, the Trump/Pence regime “flouted Congress’s restrictions,” as the Washington Post wrote, and simply certified—against all the evidence—that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were reducing the risks to Yemeni civilians. The threat of a major war involving Iran—whether by U.S. design, the moves of one or another of the U.S. proxies in the region, or accident—grows sharper by the day.

The Trump/Pence Response: Doubling Down on War Crimes

The international humanitarian organization Oxfam denounced Pompeo’s September 12 “certification” as having no basis in “facts, moral code or humanitarian law.” Instead, as the group correctly argued, the Trump/Pence administration was “doubling down” and “literally fueling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.” Note: the so-called “adults” in this fascist regime like Defense Secretary James Mattis, who far too many are counting on to save humanity, supported the certification.

This decision concentrates the Trump/Pence strategic approach to the Middle East at a time when America’s domination of the region faces a host of contradictions and challenges, including the vulnerability of some key allies and the growing regional reach and influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran: doubling down on backing for murderous clients like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt—even feigned concern for international law and human rights be damned—and doubling down on U.S.-backed violence.

This regime’s monstrous crimes in the Middle East (and around the world) are rooted in the needs and functioning of U.S. capitalism-imperialism. Its wealth, power, and stability come from its relentless economic, political, and military domination and exploitation of key regions, key resources, and especially the masses of people all over the world.

The Middle East is one of those key regions, and Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, is a key strategic cog in the whole U.S. empire—economically, militarily, and politically. This is why Democrats and Republicans have supported this barbaric theocratic monarchy for some 80 years. Protecting it, maintaining its stability, and today making sure its regional influence and power is not eclipsed by Iran are top priorities for the U.S. rulers.

Certifying Genocidal Escalation

On September 12, the day the U.S. issued its “certification,” Saudi-UAE forces took control of two of the main roads in and out of Hodeidah—“the sole source of food for millions in northern Yemen,” according to aid workers. They report that little aid is now getting out of Hodeidah, and if it falls “aid is likely to stop.”

This would be catastrophic on a genocidal scale. Some 2.9 million women and children are already suffering from acute malnutrition and another 400,000 children are on the edge of starvation. Recently the Associated Press (September 14) documented massive starvation in Yemen’s Aslam district, reporting, “In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away.”

Right now the Saudi-UAE assault is threatening grain mills in Hodeidah with enough food stored to feed 3.5 million people for a month. If Hodeidah falls and aid is cut off, as many as 10 million more Yemenis could face starvation.

What Kind of System Deliberately Starves Millions?

The Saudis claim they want to seize Hodeidah to stop the flow of arms and income to the Houthis, not to block food and humanitarian aid. These are lies. The U.S.-Saudi Arabia-UAE have used mass hunger and disease as weapons of war for the last three plus years, and now their goal is to force the Houthis to surrender by cutting off their last sources of aid and starving millions of Yemenis to death if necessary.

Any system that depends on massacring, starving, and infecting millions isn’t a system fit to exist a moment longer. Any system that’s carried out these crimes decade after decade—no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power—has proven it cannot be reformed, that THIS is how it operates. Any system like this needs to be overthrown through revolution as soon as the conditions come into being that make that possible. People need to confront the real nature of an empire based on starving children (HERE), and get into the real solution to ending it, and all the horrors it inflicts on humanity (HERE).

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