Bruce Riedel calls for the U.S. to pressure the Saudi coalition to end their blockade of Yemen:
For the war to end, the Biden administration will need to lay out a political process that entices the Houthis to a ceasefire. A good place to start is the Saudi blockade, which is the cause of the humanitarian catastrophe. Washington should call for the immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and allow civilian traffic to Yemen’s ports and airports. The United Nations says that 16 million Yemenis are malnourished, and the situation is getting worse at an alarming rate.
The blockade is an offensive military operation that kills civilians. Opening the blockade would be an act of goodwill and expose the war to more outside observers. Linking lifting the blockade to a ceasefire is a recipe for prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people. The two issues need to be decoupled.
The need to lift the blockade is greater than ever. The recent international donor conference raised less than half of the money that aid agencies desperately need to continue assisting the millions of Yemenis suffering from malnutrition and disease. The conference’s goal was $3.8 billion, and the conference donors offered up only $1.7 billion. Yemen has suffered from international neglect and inadequate humanitarian relief for the last six years, and things have only become worse over time. Six years of economic warfare, blockade, and international indifference have taken a staggering toll on the civilian population. Tens of thousands of Yemenis already live in famine-like conditions, and many more will fall into the same state in the near future if there is not a major, sustained relief effort. An estimated five million people are on the edge of starvation.
ISIS is back, we are told. Suddenly after a prolonged silence the ISIS threat is now being used to justify expanding the US presence in the Middle East. Last Thursday, however, President Biden ordered an airstrike on one of the Iraqi militias formed in 2014 to fight against ISIS. So…are we helping or hurting ISIS? Does anyone know? On today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Thirty-five days after he was sworn into office as President of the United States, Joe Biden ordered airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria, in response to rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq. Congress has not declared war against Syria or Iran.
However, Congress never revoked the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which authorized the war in Iraq, despite numerous attempts in multiple legislative sessions to do so.
“There’s no general authority for a president to launch airstrikes, and President Biden hasn’t claimed they were necessary to stop an imminent attack,” commented Michigan’s former Rep. Justin Amash. “Our Constitution demands he get approval from the representatives of the people.”
Some within the Biden administration used to know the constitutional limits of presidential power. Comments from Press Secretary Jen Psaki from April 2017 criticizing former President Trump for launching airstrikes against Syria haven’t aged very well.
Psaki asked what “legal authority for strikes” Trump had in Syria. “Assad is a brutal dictator,” she tweeted, “But Syria is a sovereign country.”
Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (Minn.) resurfaced Psaki’s tweet and asked, “Great question,” while Republican Congressman (Mich.) Peter Meijer added that the question “dovetails nicely with a renewed push for AUMF reform!”
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby spun the strike in eastern Syria as “proportionate” and “defensive,” saying they “were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel.”
The USA Today, drawing on the work of the Cost of War Project, Quincy Institute, David Vine, William Hartung, and others, has gone beyond the limits of every other big corporate U.S. media outlet, and beyond what any member of the US Congress has done, in a big new series of articles on wars, bases, and militarism.
There are significant shortcomings, some of them (such as absurdly low estimates of deaths and financial costs) originating with the Cost of War Project. But the overall achievement is — I hope — groundbreaking.
Any doubts as to whether Joe Biden will continue Donald Trump’s opposition to Nord Stream 2 should now be laid to rest. With 18 companies quitting the gas pipeline project this week following threats of US sanctions, there has never been so much pressure on Angela Merkel to ditch the scheme, which would see Russian gas transported to Germany directly.
Merkel has done well to stand her ground to date. For even her European partners aren’t backing her. The Director General of the European Commission’s energy department, Ditte Juul Jorgensen said on Tuesday that "For the European Union as a whole, Nord Stream does not contribute to security of supply’, emphasizing that it was a decision for the German state, not the EU as to whether the project should be completed. Given the fact that European demand for Russian gas has increased, not decreased of late, however, one might think that it is in the EU’s interest to support Nord Stream 2.
Not if the US has anything to do with it. Citing concern at Russia’s increased influence over Europe if the pipeline goes ahead, Joe Biden has proclaimed Nord Stream 2 a "bad deal" for Europe, which America will continue to oppose. The US claims that Russia would have more leverage over the EU politically as a result. What it really means, though, is that the US would have less leverage over Europe, and a reduced demand for its fracked gas. EU countries imported as much as 36% of American natural gas in 2019 – an increase of around 5 billion cubic meters from the previous year – a considerable amount given Russia is just on its doorstep, and also bearing in mind the EU’s environmental pledges (fracking produces heavy amounts of methane gas, responsible for global warming).
For Palestinians, exile is not simply the physical act of being removed from their homes and their inability to return. It is not a casual topic pertaining to politics and international law, either. Nor is it an ethereal notion, a sentiment, a poetic verse. It is all of this, combined.
The death in Amman of Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti, an intellectual whose work has intrinsically been linked to exile, brought back to the surface many existential questions: are Palestinians destined to be exiled? Can there be a remedy for this perpetual torment? Is justice a tangible, achievable goal?
Barghouti was born in 1944 in Deir Ghassana, near Ramallah. His journey in exile began in 1967, and ended, however temporarily, 30 years later. His memoir "I Saw Ramallah" – published in 1997 – was an exiled man’s attempt to make sense of his identity, one that has been formulated within many different physical spaces, conflicts and airports. While, in some way, the Palestinian in Barghouti remained intact, his was a unique identity that can only be fathomed by those who have experienced, to some degree, the pressing feelings of Ghurba – estrangement and alienation – or Shataat – dislocation and diaspora.