The War America Ignores
Thousands of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands of additional civilians have been injured by Saudi airstrikes on civilian targets that by law are protected by the Geneva Conventions—the foundational document that governs how a war should be conducted and a treaty that requires warring parties to ensure that civilian casualties are kept to an absolute minimum (and, when civilian casualties are inevitable, the deaths are in proportion with the value of the military objective that will be achieved). Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Campaign against the Arms Trade, the U.N. Commissioner of Human Rights, and the U.N. Security Council’s own Panel of Experts on Yemen have all documented examples of Saudi munitions being dropped on marketplaces, hospitals, medical clinics, mosques, homes, businesses and camps for internally displaced people. Any country that commits these kinds of infractions should be reprimanded, but when the country happens to be a long-time friend, partner, and ally of the United States, Washington has a duty to use its leverage to prevent more civilians from dying at the hands of cluster munitions or two-thousand-pound bombs supplied by the United States.
Why does the civil war in Yemen matter to the United States? For one, the Saudi campaign against the Houthis is providing a great opportunity for AQAP to expand its area of control along the southeastern Yemeni coastline—a presence that has allowed AQAP to make around $2 million a day by taxing imports and exports out of the Mukalla port. Secondly, the more air force assets that Riyadh dedicates to its Yemen campaign, the less the Saudis are able to offer to the international coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. And thirdly, the U.S. receives no benefit in aiding and abetting a military campaign that is killing a disproportionate number of civilians and making post-war reconstruction of an already poor country even more difficult.
The House of Commons is doing its part for the British people. It’s time for the U.S. Congress to do the same for Americans.
Daniel R. DePetris is an associate analyst at the Raddington Group. He has also written for CNN.com, Small Wars Journal and the Diplomat.
Image: A girl in Sanaa waiting for water. Flickr/Julian Harneis, CC BY-SA 2.0.