Biden Announces End Of US Operations In Yemen War
In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech at the State Department on Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced that the United States is finally ending all offensive operations in Yemen.
The war has been raging for over five years, during which time the Pentagon has been an important leader within the Saudi-UAE coalition. Within the past two years the US role there has come under increased Congressional and public scrutiny as the UN recently dubbed it the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” as over 100,000 people have died, and an untold additional number from famine and disease.
The “end to American support for offensive operations in Yemen” was among Biden’s campaign promises. As the president outlined, US forces are authorized to continue strikes against Al-Qaeda in Yemen, but any involvement in the civil war will now be switched exclusively to diplomatic efforts at ending the conflict. The US rational in supporting the Saudis has long been that Yemen’s rebels, the Shia Houthis, are covertly supported by Iran.
Thus it’s been one of the key Mideast flashpoints alongside Syria to have emerged that’s essentially been seen as a war between Iranian and Saudi proxies. The prior Trump administration specifically invoked Iran as a prime reason for continuing to closely support the Saudis and Emirates. As The Hill recounts, “Former President Trump pushed through an $8.1 billion arms sale to the Saudis in 2019 over congressional opposition by invoking ’emergency’ authorities, citing alleged threats by Iran.”
Earlier in the day Wednesday national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that America’s Gulf partners have bene notified, while further defining the scope of the Pentagon’s change in posture in Yemen, which includes seeking to stop weapons sales that have been part of fueling the war:
“It extends to the types of offensive operations that have perpetuated this civil war in Yemen that has led to a humanitarian crisis,” Sullivan said of Biden’s move, specifically pointing to two sales of precision-guided munitions approved by the Trump administration that the Biden administration has announced it is pausing.
The United States has been providing logistics and military support to a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen’s civil war, as well as billions of dollars in weapons sales. Last week, the State Department announced it was pausing and reviewing arms sales to the Saudis, as well as to the United Arab Emirates.
Last month soon after taking office the Biden administration announced a “pause” on Trump-era arms transfers to the Saudi-UEA coalition, including Lockheed Martin produced F-35 stealth fighters.
US involvement in the war goes all the way back to March 2015, when then President Barack Obama authorized US forces to join the Saudis executing the war, namely through logistical and intelligence support, which also later became major weapons sales.
Thu, 02/04/2021 – 14:22