Thursday, August 09, 2018

If Not Now, When?

Two months ago, Representative Ro Khanna of California, who had introduced a resolution to end this country's involvement in the war Saudi Arabia is conducting against the Houthis in Yemen, explained

President Obama never obtained congressional authorization for active US involvement in this war. His administration made a unilateral decision in 2015 to engage in these hostilities to reassure the Gulf monarchies of the US strategic alliance in light of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed that year, though administration officials did not anticipate the scale of the Saudi atrocities. Now, under President Trump—whose shadowy campaign ties with the Saudis and Emiratis are only now emerging—these countries have felt emboldened to intensify the conflict. American military participation has even expanded to include secretive on-the-ground operations by Army Green Berets.

The war began in 2014, but The New York Times now has reported

An airstrike from the Saudi-led coalition struck a school bus in northern Yemen on Thursday and killed dozens of people, many of them children, local medical officials and international aid groups said.

The attack sent a flood of victims to overwhelmed hospitals struggling to cope in what the United Nations considers one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The coalition said it had hit missile launchers and called the attack a “legitimate military operation,” but the attack and the justification for it were condemned and drew new attention to the tremendous human toll of the war in Yemen, especially on children.

The Times adds "much of Yemen, which was already the Arab world’s poorest country, has been plunged into crisis, with poverty, malnutrition and diseases like cholera spreading."

In the year since he took over as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman has both taken steps to modify the Kingdom and to increase repression of dissidents.  Additionally, according to CNN, he "has also taken a hard line abroad, instigating a bruising blockade of its tiny neighbor Qatar, picking fights with regional rival Iran, and prosecuting a costly war to oust rebels from Yemen."

This week, after mild criticism by Canada of Riyahd's human rights record

the Saudi government has responded with a steady string of retaliatory measures, expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh and recalling the Saudi envoy to Ottawa, suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto, and ending thousands of Saudi scholarship programs in Canada.

Then on Tuesday, Saudi authorities announced they would halt all medical treatment programs in Canada and transfer Saudi patients to hospitals outside the country.

The Saudi foreign minister said "Canada has made a mistake and needs to fix it."

The kingdom also said it plans to freeze future trade relations between the two countries.

This "mistake" could be easily fixed.  The United States should immediately withdraw support from the coalition murdering civilians in Yemen.

It could, but it won't. The Saudis believe the Houthis are fighting a proxy war for Iran, and the Trump Administration has an obsession with Iran rivaling that of the federal government with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

Noting that some Middle Eastern countries have supported Saudi Arabia while Europe has said little on behalf of Canada, a fellow at a London-based think tank lamented "it's a little bit disappointing that no one feels they're in a position to come out and support the Canadians on issues that just a few years ago they probably would have a lot more vocal on."

This dispute calls for leadership from the West. That leadership once was supplied by the USA, but the era of this nation as the leader of the free world has been erased by President Trump. 

For a long time, even after Riyadh-financed charities probably were involved in the attacks of 9/11/01 (in which 18 of the hijackers, plus Osama bin Laden, were Saudi nationals; video below from 4/16), there was an understanding that we should not mess with Saudi Arabia because of the need for Mideast oil. But the economics of energy have changed drastically since that time, and it's time for the USA, on behalf of Houthis, Canadians, and others, finally to say "no" to Riyadh.

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