Monday, April 8, 2019

Democrats and the Yemen War


Obama lives. The Obama administration continues. Congressional Democrats have just passed a resolution affirming the Obama approach to the Middle East. Given that Obama sided with Iran against Saudi Arabia and Israel, and that the Trump administration has sided with Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran and its terrorist proxies, it makes sense that Congressional Democrats would pass a resolution telling the administration to stop supporting the Saudi offensive against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

As sometimes happens in foreign policy, the question is: whose side are they on? When it comes to the Middle East, the Democratic Party is on the side of Iran and Hezbollah and Hamas. It is against Saudi Arabia and Israel. Even though the Obama administration did make some constructive gestures toward both. Unfortunately, the Iran nuclear deal is such a grave threat to regional security that the gestures toward other countries are lip service.

Why, just yesterday Democratic Wunderkind Beto O’Rourke declared Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to be a racist for wanting to annex disputed lands in the West Bank. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this means that Beto is happy to reward Palestinian terrorism. Do you really think that Palestinians, who have nothing else to offer the world, will cease their terrorism unless they have to pay a price for it.

Anyway, Eli Lake has a good column about a Congressional resolution, passed by Democrats, against Saudi Arabia and for Iran in the Yemen conflict:

Does it matter to America which side wins the civil war in Yemen? It most certainly does — although congressional Democrats seem to need a reminder why.

The question arises after the House passed a resolution Thursday to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in that conflict by a vote of 247 to 175. While some Republicans in both chambers supported the resolution, it enjoyed near unanimous support from Democrats in Congress.

As Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., put it last month during the debate over the resolution in the Senate, where it passed by a vote of 54 to 46: "We should not be associated with a bombing campaign that the U.N. tells us is likely a gross violation of human rights."

OMG… the Saudis have violated the human rights of Houthi rebels. When was the last time that Sen. Murphy or any other Democrat stood up to denounce the persistent and daily human rights abuses perpetrated by Iran? Do you hear the silence of the lambs?

OK, the Saudis are fighting a war, and will continue to fight it. We can easily list some of the bad things they have done. Lake writes:

Murphy is not wrong that Saudi Arabia has caused famine and misery in Yemen. It has destroyed not just schools but school buses, and prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Add to this the Saudis’ murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and their lies and half truths about it, and it’s easy to see why members of Congress would want to end U.S. support for the Saudis’ war in Yemen.

But, as the Democrats take sides with the Houthis, they neglect certain facts on the ground:

To focus solely on Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen conflict is to give Iran a pass for making it worse — by, for example, giving its Houthi clients missiles capable of reaching Riyadh.

If the Houthis prevail, then Iran will have access to a port in the Red Sea, from which it can make more mischief in the Mideast. This is what the Saudis are concerned about — and they will fight the war in Yemen with or without U.S. support.

The Congressional resolution, sure to be vetoed by Pres. Trump, and thus counting only as an empty gesture, will have little effect:

It will not end U.S. intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia, for example, which allows Saudi bombers to target sites in Yemen. It also allows for U.S. operations against al Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen to continue.

Finally, there is the matter of the Pentagon’s termination late last year of its mid-air refueling for Saudi aircraft engaged in the war. In this respect, the resolution would make law a policy already adopted by the administration.

This maneuver is more a matter of messaging: In effect, Democrats are signaling what their policy toward the Saudis will be if they win the White House in 2020. And here, the resolution matters a great deal.

Did the James Mattis-led Pentagon cut off Saudi refueling last year? If so, perhaps that’s a reason why we should not regret his departure.

What is the American interest? Lake sums it up well:

It’s not only possible but necessary to criticize the Saudis and their depravities, while still recognizing that it’s better for the U.S. if they prevail in Yemen and help to contain Iran.

Only one of those countries cooperates with the U.S. on counterterrorism and is slowly thawing its relationship with Israel.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Iran is dangerous to us; the Saudis aren't.