Counting the Real Costs of the War on Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The fighting in Yemen has killed at least 57,000 people, and the real death toll is likely much higher:

The database gives an indication of the scope of the disaster wreaked in Yemen by nearly four years of civil war. At least 57,538 people – civilians and combatants – have been killed since the beginning of 2016, according to the data assembled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED.

That doesn’t include the first nine months of the war, in 2015, which the group is still analyzing. Those data are likely to raise the figure to 70,000 or 80,000 [bold mine-DL], ACLED’s Yemen researcher Andrea Carboni told The Associated Press. The organization’s count is considered by many international agencies to be one of the most credible, although all caution it is likely an underestimate because of the difficulties in tracking deaths.

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Bolton Uses WWI-Era Rhetoric to Promote a Cruel Iran Policy

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

John Bolton used a vindictive WWI-era slogan while threatening Iran with harsh sanctions enforcement:

The U.S. intends to double down on sanctioning Iran, pressuring the nation until it submits, National Security Adviser John Bolton signaled on Tuesday.

“We think the government is under real pressure and it’s our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. “As the British say, ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

The phrase Bolton quoted was used as a campaign slogan in 1918 to describe the harsh postwar treatment of Germany that the British coalition government wanted to inflict. It was a prelude to the “Carthaginian peace” imposed on the Central Powers. As such, it is usually seen as the start of a disastrous postwar settlement that destabilized Europe for the next twenty years and helped to create the conditions for the next war. Sane policymakers do not aspire to imitate this example, but then this is Bolton we’re talking about here.

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Another Bad Idea on Yemen from the Trump Administration

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Trump administration’s Yemen policy is already indefensible, and they may be about to make it even worse:

The Trump administration is considering designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization, people familiar with the discussions said, as part of a campaign to end that country’s civil war and put pressure on the Houthis’ ally Iran.

The terrorist designation, which would inject an unpredictable new element into fragile diplomatic efforts to initiate peace talks, has been discussed periodically since at least 2016, according to several of the individuals. But the matter has received renewed examination in recent months as the White House seeks to stake out a tough stance on Iranian-linked groups across the Middle East, they said.

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The Midterms and the War on Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

After two years reckless and irresponsible Trump administration foreign policy, the new Democratic House majority is in a position to provide greater oversight and scrutiny of the president’s policies:

A Democrat-led House will likely launch hearings quickly on U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia in Yemen and other secret wars. In late October, Smith and Engel sent Trump a letter warning against an exit from both the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, saying that “[i]t would divide our allies and play directly into President Putin’s hands.” As committee chairmen, they would have the power to hold repeated hearings and force the Trump administration to explain its plans in ways the Republican-led House has not done.

Some of those hearings – which Democratic members have been shouting for since early 2017 – could be acutely embarrassing for the Trump administration. “We will see a lot of demand for information,” said Alexandra Bell, a former senior arms control official.

The change in control of the House may have the greatest impact on U.S. support for the war on Yemen. Dozens of Democratic House members have already co-sponsored H.Con.Res. 138, including members of the party leadership and the ranking members of relevant committees, and those numbers seem certain to grow with the influx of new members in January. Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan, H.Con.Res. 138 will come up for a vote later this month, and if for some reason it doesn’t pass in this Congress there is a much better chance that it will pass in the new Congress next year. Reps. Engel and Smith are both co-sponsors of the measure to end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen, and once they become the chairmen of their respective committees they will be able to challenge the administration on this and other foreign policy issues over the next two years. Together with their colleagues in the Senate, they are well-positioned to cause the Trump administration a lot of headaches, and most important of all they have a real chance to shut down U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war. The House Democrats aren’t going to be able to stop or reverse all of Trump’s destructive foreign policy decisions, but on Yemen they have an opportunity to force real changes in U.S. policy.

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.

Yemen Can’t Wait for a Ceasefire

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Michael Horton is similarly skeptical about Mattis and Pompeo’s calls for a ceasefire in Yemen:

Yet these exhortations are meaningless without real pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are poised to launch yet another offensive on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

The first offensive on the port, dubbed ”Operation Golden Victory,” began five months ago and was meant to be a quick strike that would eject the Houthi rebels and their allied forces. It has been anything but quick. The Houthis have launched successive and largely successful counter-offensives.

Meanwhile, as a tragic result of this horrible war, millions of Yemenis face starvation in what is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. That may be exactly what is desired by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their backers – which so far has included the United States.

Last night in Sanaa, the Saudi coalition launched dozens of airstrikes. Meanwhile, they have been gathering reinforcements to begin a new assault on Hodeidah. The offensive on the port city has already displaced hundreds of thousands and threatened the food supply for millions more in the interior, and a new assault could be all that it takes to kick millions of starving people into the abyss. Four weeks from now, the damage done to Yemen’s civilian population may already be done and no one will be be able to undo it. That is why there must be an immediate ceasefire, and that begins with an immediate end to U.S. support for the war.

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Saudi Coalition Massacre Kills 21 at a Market in Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Saudi coalition bombed a vegetable market near Hodeidah earlier today and killed at least 21 people:

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