Yemen

America's Proxy War in Yemen

Still being largely ignored.

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YAHYA ARHAB/EPA/Newscom

The Senate blocked an effort by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) to nix a $1.5 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which is engaged in a war of choice in Yemen, where the U.S.- and Saudi-backed government was overthrown by Iranian-backed rebels in 2014. Al-Monitor described the vote (71-27 to dismiss the measure) as the Senate "in effect casting the first vote on US participation after 18 months of war in Yemen."

Even if Paul's measure had passed both houses of Congress, it's unlikely there would be enough support to override the president's veto. And the Obama administration has completed more than $100 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia so far.

In The Atlantic, Samuel Oakford and Peter Salisbury call Yemen the "graveyard of the Obama doctrine," noting U.S. involvement in the proxy war contradicted rhetoric the president deployed at the United Nations this month, where he bemoaned proxy wars as one of the factors preventing conflict resolution in the Middle East. "No external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long," the president told a gathering of world leaders at the U.N. this month.

Yemen used to be one of Obama's vaunted success stories. Two short years ago the White House was pointing to it as a model of success in the war on terror. Who knew launching drone strikes based on information fed to the U.S. by a long-time dictator would help destabilize the country and encourage a rebellion that would ultimately be successful?

As Trevor Thrall and John Glaser argued here at Reason earlier this year, U.S. support of Saudi Arabia has enabled Saudi ruthlessness in Yemen. The proxy war, they argued, "compromises both U.S. interests and its moral standing" by expanding a power vacuum that benefits Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the initial impetus for U.S. bombing campaigns in Yemen and which opposes the Houthi rebels. A Dutch attempt to get a United Nations inquiry into human rights violations and other war crimes in Yemen was blocked at the European Union last week by the United Kingdom.

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  1. I look at our foreign policy, and it’s just so directionless. There’s zero passing for a coherent strategy the last 8 years. The 8 years before that, we just had a fucking stupid strategy. The government is just hell bent on sticking its fingers anywhere and everywhere it can in the most half-assed way possible.

    1. What do you mean? Obama is fixing the problems with Iran, it was a Historic Deal if you hadn’t heard, we just gave them a shit ton of money. And he’s selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to fight a proxy war in Yemen against Iran. And he’s against the Iranian backed Assad regime who is fighting ISIS. ISIS is our enemy after all. Does that sound directionless?

      1. To be fair, it’s a complex region with lots of competing interests. But most people might look at that as a reason to GTFO. Alas, our government isn’t staffed by Most People.

    2. The kindest interpretation is that the Obama Administration is seeking some kind of balancing between Iran and the Saudis, but yes, I don’t know if there really is that kind of deep strategy.

  2. Obama is proof that you can have the shittiest foreign policy ever and still remain relatively popular. Democrats will respond to these incentives.

    1. “Obama is proof that you can have the shittiest foreign policy ever and still remain relatively popular”

      That Ben Rhodes piece showed how all you need is a ‘press coordinator’ to tell the hacks what to write and what to ignore, and you can spin *anything* as favorable to your CinC.

      they’ve only started to deviate from the playbook in the last few weeks. In the last 2 months the NYT wrote a editorial saying, “BY THE WAY: AFGHANISTAN COMPLETE FAILURE”… without so much as mentioning Obama’s name – and just saying, “the next president is going to need a ‘better plan'” (never noting their failure to ever question the current one)

      …. and others – once given permission by the admin – have recently acknowledged that *maybe* the backpatting over the “Iran Deal” was a bit premature…

      but otherwise, everything the admin has done/not done has mostly been politely ignored. You will see some pieces suggesting “america’s allies concerned” – because all of asia pacific is worried about China, all of Easten Europe is worried about Russia, Israel has completely stopped answering the phone, etc., Egypt is another papered-over problem.. – but no one will ever connect the dots to anything over the past 8 years.

      1. all of Easten Europe is worried about Russia, Israel has completely stopped answering the phone, etc., Egypt is another papered-over problem.. – but no one will ever connect the dots to anything over the past 8 years.

        What’s the media go-to quote I kept hearing the first four years of the Obama administration?

        “The problems Obama was left with were worse than previously thought.”

        Richard Epstein was half right about Obama’s skill in ‘staying out of controversies’ and remaining aloof while scandals within his own administration burn like white phosphorous.

        He’s able to stay disconnected and aloof because he’s allowed to remain disconnected and aloof.

  3. A Dutch attempt to get a United Nations inquiry into human rights violations and other war crimes in Yemen was blocked at the European Union last week by the United Kingdom.

    Well, you know, the crusades ‘n stuff.

  4. I have had a long running challenge on facederp to Obama and Clinton supporters.

    “What is the difference between the drone signature strikes in Yemen and the right wing para-military death squads in El Salvador?”

    For some reason that is a thread killer. The moment I ask that question, people stop commenting on the thread. I know Peter Beinart, formerly of the New Republic, and I have some facebook friends in common. I should try to get him to provide that explanation.

    1. intentions!

    2. I get chirping crickets when I mention on FB the number of civilians and children killed by the drone strikes.

      It was a good lesson on how lefties and righties TEAM HARDER whenever necessary.

    3. Your facebook friends gargle balls if they can’t answer that.

      right-wing paramilitary death squads were the tools of capitalism.

      signature drone strikes are based on the careful deliberations by the most analytical president in history.

    4. “The moment I ask that question, people stop commenting on the thread.”

      So like a game of whack-a-mole, except with progressive armchair politicos??

    5. Duh, right wing paramilitary death squads use guns, not drone strikes. Also, one is in Yemen and the other is in El Salvador.

  5. Odds this will come up during the debate tonight?

    1. ha haha haha hahahahaha ha… ah, no.

      1. Yeah, it would take too long to vet them with the Clinton campaign first.

    2. “My men? What do you mean, my men?”

  6. “”America’s Proxy War in Yemen
    Still being largely ignored.””

    I think this is the first time its been mentioned @Reason since … spring 2015, or so?

    (*that’s my memory – a scan of the tag shows an article in Feb of this year….but the only other time it was specifically addressed was- yep – last April. and it was ‘sheldon’, which is still a way of saying, ‘ignored by everyone else’)

    1. It’s because the Progressive Left and their media lapdogs don’t give a shit about brown people being blown to bits.

      They will if Trump won the White house but only because they want to make him look bad.

  7. Good for Rand Paul for standing up to this. And this is why I’m voting for Hillary – Tim Kaine has also been principled on the declaration issue.

    Jill Stein is beside herself.

    1. I’m voting for Hillary because I look forward to Sugarfree’s Beltway Lesbian Porn serials.

    2. While Hillary’s health might be in question, she’s not guaranteed to be incapacitated immediately upon taking office. She’ll continue to be Hillary Warmongering Clinton for as long as she’s alive and mentally competent.

    3. You’re voting for someone because of their vice president’s opinions? Oh, man.

      1. To be fair, at this point in time a vote for Clinton is just a vote for Kaine.

    4. OTOH, Tim Kaine did just say that it was absolutely insulting to say that the US bears partial responsibility for civilian casualties.

  8. “in effect casting the first vote on US participation after 18 months of war in Yemen.

    Only 18 months? Seems a lot longer than that.

  9. News Poll – URINE 71% – YEMEN 9%
    An NBC news poll shows that almost eight times as many Americans know that if you put a sleeping person’s hand in lukewarm water he will wet his bed as know which side we’re on in the North Yemen-South Yemen conflict.

    1. Wait, I thought it was U of Yemen vs Yemen State??!!

      1. Hillary: Don, I know exactly what you’re going to say: “Hillary, you ignorant slut! Saudi Arabia is our friend. Sure they kept oil from us during the 70’s embargo, but they’re a fighter against Communism. Maybe so, Don, but what happened to the human rights you scream about every time a Saranski gets sentenced to some Russian jail? Why is it wrong to torture a dissident in a freezing Siberian Gulag, but okay to wire a leftist student’s genitals in a baking Yemeni dungeon? I only hope that someday someone wires your genitals, Don. Then you’ll be signing a different tune!
        The Donald: Hillary, you poor, misguided scrag! Sure, the Saudi king is a jerk, but he’s all we’ve got! Just look at the map. To the north, Aleppo. To the east, Iran. To the west, Egypt. All leftist radical states. Any idiot can see that Saudi Arabia would be a prized stepping stone in an eventual Russia takeover of the world. And when that happens, Hillary, those Cossacks will be coming over her with their broom handles, and we’ll see how you’ll feel then! Of course, you’d probably love it, your ignorant slut!

    2. “North Yemen-South Yemen conflict”

      Why is it called this?? Every tune I look at a map it looks like it is divided east-west, not north-south. With Houthis in the west and Hadis in the east.

  10. “Iranian-backed rebels”

    Is there any actual evidence for this claim yet other than “Both are Shia”??

    1. No, in fact evidence to the contrary.. http://www.washingtonsblog.com…..proxy.html it is repeated constantly because being aligned with Iran makes the slaughter more palatable

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