Originally appeared on The American Conservative.
The Washington Post reminds us how the Saudi coalition war on Yemen helps Al Qaeda:
Last year, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a powerful Yemeni Islamist warlord, accusing him of being a “prominent military instructor” and fundraiser for al-Qaeda who had also at one point “served with” the Islamic State and financed its forces.
But Abu al-Abbas is not on the run. He is not even in hiding.
By his own admission, Abbas continues to receive millions of dollars in weapons and financial support for his fighters from one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, the United Arab Emirates, undermining U.S. counterterrorism goals in Yemen.
The Saudi coalition’s cooperation with and support for members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been an open secret for many years. Back in August, the Associated Press published one of the most detailed reports on the coalition’s practice of buying off and recruiting AQAP members as part of their war against the Houthis. Members of the coalition have been working with and supporting known terrorists for years, and they continue to do so even now. Meanwhile, US officials keep justifying US support for the coalition’s war on Yemen by claiming that Saudi and Emirati cooperation on counterterrorism is so very important. The war on Yemen has strengthened jihadist groups both directly and indirectly, and this is just one more example of that. The US continues to support a war that not only benefits jihadists by sowing chaos, but it also backs the governments that directly finance and arm those same terrorists.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the Saudi coalition also includes the war criminals of Sudan. This is also not news, but it is good that it is getting more attention. Mark Perry previously reported on the coalition’s use of Sudanese Janjaweed militia in Yemen in a story for TAC earlier this year. Here is a New York Times report saying much the same thing over the weekend:
Almost all the Sudanese fighters appear to come from the battle-scarred and impoverished region of Darfur, where some 300,000 people were killed and 1.2 million displaced during a dozen years of conflict over diminishing arable land and other scarce resources.
Most belong to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, a tribal militia previously known as the Janjaweed. They were blamed for the systematic rape of women and girls, indiscriminate killing and other war crimes during Darfur’s conflict, and veterans involved in those horrors are now leading their deployment to Yemen – albeit in a more formal and structured campaign.
The Saudi coalition uses the foot soldiers of Sudanese genocide to aid in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen, and they have been doing so for years. The US continues to assist a coalition of governments that includes one that has already committed genocide and also includes several more that are in the process of committing the crime of mass starvation against the people of Yemen. There are many ugly chapters in the history of US foreign policy, but our government’s ongoing support for this war is one of the most reprehensible and despicable.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.