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.