The American public has ignored the worst example of Obama’s foreign policy adventurism and its failures — Yemen.
The crisis in the gulf state country prompted a Saudi Arabian-led coalition of Gulf Arab states (along with Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan) to conduct military operations in the country for 15 months, backed by the American and British governments.
Fighting on the ground has been among several groups, but coalition forces have supported Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against Zaidi Shia rebels, known as Houthis, who support former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to the BBC. Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula franchise also operate in the fighting.
“What happens in Yemen can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable,” the BBC noted.
To further Western goals of stability, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses. And the president hasn’t shown any indication that policy will change.
“The coalition has been accused of indiscriminately bombing civilian and nonmilitary targets in its battle against Houthi rebels in Yemen for more than a year,” Somini Sengupta wrote for The New York Times, and the UN was forced by the Saudi-led coalition to remove it from “an ignoble list of armies that kill and maim children.”
The United States has remained silent.
“The U.S. has enabled the Saudi-led war from the start, and has aided the coalition in pummeling and starving Yemen as the horrifying consequences of the intervention have steadily increased,” Daniel Larison noted in The American Conservative.
Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the coalition action as self-defense by Saudi Arabia. That’s inaccurate — the intervention was driven by regime change, not a Houthi threat to Saudi territory.
The consequences of Obama’s failed foreign policy in Libya, Iraq, and Syria have been well-covered. Yemen, arguably a bigger disaster than Libya, has been obfuscated by the Obama administration and ignored by the American people and their Congress.
“For a year much of the world has ignored this raging conflict and heard little about its devastating consequences,” Amnesty International noted, calling Yemen “the forgotten war.”
Thus far, the UN has counted 10,000 dead in the fighting, including more than 500 children.
“The conflict has left more than 21 million people in Yemen dependent on foreign aid to survive, more than anywhere else on the planet. The parties to the conflict have all committed horrific violations of the laws of war and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises,” Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, wrote.
Yemen’s population is only 27 million people.
“The U.S. has helped the Saudis to whitewash and obscure their crimes, and the Obama administration has done this despite credible reports from multiple human rights organizations and the U.N. that the Saudi-led coalition is likely guilty of war crimes and possibly even crimes against humanity,” Larison wrote.
Thousands of civilians dead. Arms trafficking. A state only further destabilized by military intervention. A humanitarian crisis. Suppressing information about dead children at the hands of a foreign dictator. Such are the results of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
Yet Obama has avoided criticism.
Aside from a bill introduced in April by Senators Rand Paul and Chris Murphy to limit arms sold to Saudi Arabia, Congress hasn’t attempted to curtail the executive branch’s actions.
None of this could be possible without American and British support. The United States has provided “logistical and intelligence support” while acting as “the largest provider of arms to Saudi Arabia,” selling $1.3 billion to the Saudis last November, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The cowboy foreign policy of George W. Bush was bad enough. Yet, somehow, President Obama managed to surpass the former president’s mistakes without strong public criticism.
Instead, the American people have responded with a shrug.