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Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Time to End the Forgotten War in Yemen

Posted by M. C. on April 22, 2022

William Hartung


I am a defense analyst, and cover the economics of Pentagon spending.

The scenes of carnage in Ukraine have sparked anger and concerted action against the Russian invasion of that country, now in its eighth week. But there is another conflict, now in its eighth year, that has resulted in the deaths of nearly half a million people and driven millions more to the brink of starvation – the war in Yemen. And unlike the war in Ukraine, where Washington faces daunting obstacles in attempting to end Russian atrocities, the United States has considerable leverage in bringing the Yemen conflict to an end, and soon.

The current war in Yemen began with the March 2015 Saudi/UAE UAE0.0%

-led intervention aimed at defeating the indigenous Houthi movement and restoring the prior regime to power. The Saudi leadership, led by then defense minister and current Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, promised a short war. Instead, the intervention has sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with non-combatants suffering the vast bulk of the casualties due to Saudi air strikes and a smothering air and sea blockade that has reduced imports of fuel and humanitarian aid that are essential to run hospitals and provide essential provisions to Yemenis.

The United States is far from an innocent bystander in the Yemen war. It has supplied tens of billions of dollars-worth of bombs, missiles, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), weapons that have been the backbone of the Saudi/UAE war effort. A cutoff of arms, spare parts, and maintenance would ground the Royal Saudi Air Force in short order and send a powerful message to the Saudi leadership that they must end their attacks on Yemen and negotiate in good faith to end the war. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has so far failed to do so.

Yemenis search for survivors under the rubble of houses in the UNESCO-listed heritage site in the … [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The administration’s record on Yemen has been disappointing, to put it mildly. When he was on the campaign trail, President Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and pledged to stop the flow of U.S. arms to the regime. And in his first foreign policy speech, the president said that he would “end support for offensive operations in Yemen” along with “relevant arms sales.” Instead, his administration sold over $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in its first year in office, and it has refused to use all of the leverage at its disposal to end Saudi attacks on Yemen. In fact, Saudi air strikes have increased during Biden’s tenure, including a an attack on a migrant detention center earlier this year that killed 90 people and wounded over 200.

Despite the Biden administration’s failure to do everything in its power to end the conflict, a two-month truce has been reached that calls for an end to military attacks and the Saudi-led blockade. And while the truce has been imperfectly carried out, it still offers the best hope in years for an end to the war. Now is the time for the United States to make clear that if Saudi Arabia doesn’t adhere to the truce and negotiate for peace, U.S. military support will come to an end. As President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said soon after the truce announcement, “I’d like the U.S. to put on the table that we won’t support in any way a resumption of hostilities from the Saudi side… We have some leverage here… That might be one way to make this stick.”

Given its record thus far, the Biden administration may not be inclined to threaten to end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia to “make this stick.” Congress needs to take the lead in forging a more effective U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and the Yemen war. That’s why Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are going to introduce a War Powers Resolution (WPR) to end all U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia as a way to help end the conflict. The resolution has garnered the support of 70 organizations who have sent a letter to Congress urging members to support the Yemen WPR, including Indivisible, MoveOn, Demand Progress, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. In the letter, the groups urge “all members of Congress to say ‘no’ to Saudi Arabia’s war of aggression by fully ending all U.S. support for a conflict that has caused such immense bloodshed and human suffering.”

As Aisha Jumaan, President of the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, has noted, “The fragile truce between the Saudi led coalition and Ansar Allah [the Houthis] is a golden opportunity for the Biden administration to push for an end to Saudi Arabia’s brutal war and war crimes against the Yemeni people.”

The time to act is now.

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William Hartung

I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.  I am the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed

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Numbers don’t lie: more Saudi attacks on Yemen came after new US support

Posted by M. C. on March 22, 2022

It’s been seven years, but the Biden administration seems less likely than ever to follow through with its pledge to help end the war.

Written by
Annelle Sheline

Friday marks the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention against Yemen, and thanks to Saudi Arabia’s escalation with U.S. assistance, the violence seemingly gets worse everyday.

On the sixth anniversary, Biden’s recent inauguration inspired hope that the U.S. might successfully encourage the warring parties towards a ceasefire. Yet over the course of the past year, it became clear that the Biden administration supported Saudi and Emirati objectives in Yemen almost as actively as the Trump administration, although they veiled their preference for the Saudi-led coalition in a veneer of diplomacy. 

A new brief from the Quincy Institute highlights ongoing U.S. assistance for the Saudi-led military intervention, despite Biden’s declaration that he would “end all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.” The administration paused two arms deals, but later proceeded with over a billion dollars in new sales to the kingdom. It characterized these weapons as defensive, yet as the brief argues, defensive capability converts directly to offensive advantage. By assisting Saudi Arabia and the UAE with defense, the U.S. allows these countries to attack Yemen with greater impunity. Further, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE already possess hundreds of billions of dollars in offensive weapons, mostly purchased from the United States, which they continue to use against Yemen.

Biden administration officials frequently condemn Houthi transborder attacks, yet fail to condemn Saudi air strikes. On February 10, 2021, State Department spokesperson Ned Price described the Houthis as “continually demonstrat[ing] a desire to prolong the war by attacking Saudi Arabia, including endangering civilians.” In August 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that since the beginning of the year, Saudi Arabia “has endured more than 240 attacks by the Houthis.” On January 24, 2022, Tim Lenderking, the special envoy, emphasized “the U.S. government’s condemnation of the recent Houthi attacks against the UAE and Saudi Arabia that killed civilians.” 

The problem with these statements is one of proportion. The administration’s narrative consistently blames the Houthis and stresses their transborder attacks as particularly dangerous, yet transborder attacks on Yemen carried out by the Saudi-led coalition far outnumber them and have been magnitudes more destructive.

Houthi transborder attacks never surpass and rarely even approach the number of coalition air raids conducted on Yemen each month. Crucially, with the help of U.S.–made defense systems, Saudi Arabia successfully deflects 90 percent of the Houthis’ transborder attacks.

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out more than 24,800 air raids since 2015, an average of almost 10 each day. Coalition air raids have killed almost 9,000 civilians and wounded more than 10,000.

In contrast, the Saudi coalition spokesperson reported in December 2021 that the Houthis have launched over 400 missiles and over 800 drones at Saudi Arabia since the start of the war in March 2015, killing 59 civilians. Added together, Houthi missile and drone attacks average approximately one attack every other day. 

Over the weekend, the Houthis launched a series of coordinated attacks on Saudi energy facilities: there were no casualties. In contrast, a Saudi air raid on a detention facility in Yemen in January killed 91 people and injured hundreds.

The Saudi air force relies heavily on U.S. military contractors to provide maintenance, spare parts, and repairs for their planes: without U.S. help, the Saudis could not bomb Yemen. Based on Biden’s post-inauguration declaration that the U.S. was ending support for offensive military action, it is surprising that coalition air raid levels remained relatively consistent from 2020 to 2021.  If the U.S. had genuinely withdrawn support for Saudi offensives, the rate of coalition air raids should have declined from the Trump era to the Biden era, but it has not.

Instead, coalition attacks began to increase dramatically in late 2021. Contrary to the characterizations of the Biden administration, this was not in response to Houthi transborder escalation, as Houthi attacks remained relatively stable. The Houthis may have escalated within Yemen, but they did not increase their attacks on Saudi territory. 

The war is often framed as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia, supporting the ousted government of President Abd Rabo Mansur Hadi, and Iran, backing the Houthi rebels. Yet in practice, the Saudi-led intervention constitutes a campaign of collective punishment against the Yemeni population, 80 percent of whom live in areas controlled by the Houthis. The Saudis justify their aerial bombardment and fuel blockade as necessary to counteract the Houthis and their Iranian allies, but the Houthis’ strength has only grown over the past seven years, while the lives of ordinary Yemenis have been shattered. Saudi actions have only contributed to Houthi strength: the longer the war continues, the more likely the Houthis will consolidate control, an outcome many Yemenis dread.  

There are no “good guys” in this war: All parties to the conflict have been credibly accused of war crimes by U.N. experts. In contrast to the Biden administration’s narrative that it is committed to supporting the resolution of the conflict, the U.S. nonetheless signals its ongoing support to the Saudis and Emiratis for their war on Yemen. By consistently reiterating U.S. support, the Biden administration risks escalating U.S. involvement in the war.

Competition with Russia and China has prompted Biden to prioritize close military ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is this calculation that has caused him to renege on his pledge to end the war. This not only risks dragging Washington deeper into the conflict; it also prolongs the war, compounding the destruction of Yemen. The Saudi and Emirati military aggression that the U.S. supports is little different from Russian actions in Ukraine.

The Biden administration should instead adopt a strategy that takes American national interests as its starting point. This would mean not deferring to Gulf partners on matters that undermine U.S. interests and could plunge it into yet another military confrontation in the Middle East. Deferring to Gulf partners as a means of countering China and Russia is also a questionable strategy, as the Saudis and Emiratis have already demonstrated that they will hedge their bets on U.S. competition with other great powers, as demonstrated by their unwillingness to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Written by
Annelle Sheline

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Deconstructing the Saudi narrative on the war in Yemen – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on January 13, 2022

Recent economic growth in Sana’a raises questions about just who is the main driver of the humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. media continues to echo the Saudi narrative. While AA have committed abuses, the main causes of the humanitarian crisis and instability in Yemen are the Saudi airstrikes, the blockade, and the armed groups competing for power, many of which were established by the Saudis and the UAE.

Written by
Aisha Jumaan

On December 18, Hisham Sharaf, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Ansar-Allah-led government in Sana’a, Yemen, called for U.N.-sponsored negotiations to end the war. Two days later, the Saudi Air Force launched a fresh wave of air raids on Sana’a, targeting the airport and civilian areas. Yet, reports in the U.S. media continue to promote an inaccurate narrative that demonizes Ansar-Allah while portraying the Saudis as seeking peace. 

Most U.S. journalists and government officials refer to the AA-led government in Sana’a as the “Houthi rebels” or the “Iran-backed Houthis,” and portray them as monopolizing control. In fact, the AA-led government reflects a coalition: the Supreme Political Council includes Ansar-Allah and the General People’s Council, which was the political party established by former President Saleh. Although some members of the GPC left the coalition, others remained. The prime minister of the Sana’a government, Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour, is from the south and was appointed by President Hadi to serve as the governor of Aden from late 2014 to 2015. Hisham Sharaf is currently the foreign minister: he served as a minister in multiple governments starting in 2011. Insisting on referring to the government in Sana’a as “Houthi rebels” obscures the role of other groups and conceals the presence of a real government in Sana’a. 

During a recent visit to Yemen in early September, I observed several additional factors that the dominant media narrative on Yemen has overlooked. I spent two months visiting family and overseeing the work of the charity I run, the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. The following trends demonstrate that the areas under the control of the AA-led government in Sana’a are attracting citizens and businesses due to their relative security. If Sana’a manages to win the war, it will likely be due to this kind of progress, rather than a military victory. Likewise, the relative weakness of the internationally recognized government (IRG) based in Riyadh, is due mainly to its inability to establish conditions for Yemenis to begin to rebuild their lives, despite the military backing of the Saudi-led coalition.

Rising population of Sana’a

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With Democrat Back in White House, MSNBC Returns to Ignoring U.S.-Backed War in Yemen – by Adam Johnson – The Column

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2021

Adam Johnson

A review of MSNBC’s coverage from Nov. 3, 2020 to Nov. 22, 2021 shows MSNBC hasn’t run a single segment on the U.S.-backed war still raging in Yemen. 

To the extent MSNBC did cover Yemen’s “civil war” during this time frame it was exclusively to pass along, without skepticism, claims last spring from Democrats that President Biden had “ended U.S. support for the war”—which turned out to not be true in any meaningful sense, a fact evident at the time but not met with any questioning from MSNBC reporters or pundits.  

Since then, it’s become increasingly clear little has changed in the status quo. While the U.S. has halted some forms of assistance, like mid-air refueling of aircraft, other forms of vital participation remain, including: green-lighting of weapons transfers, maintaining spare parts for Saudi war planes, sharing some forms of intelligence, and training the Royal Saudi Navy, which is enforcing a catastrophic blockade on Yemen. 

And then there is the political cover that the Biden administration is giving the Saudi-led coalition, a vital form of support that noted in September by Annelle R. Sheline and Bruce Riedel at The Brookings Institute—hardly a far-left bastion of anti-imperial polemic: 

Biden’s broken promise on Yemen

…Unfortunately, Biden’s approach is fatally flawed. The president stated that he would “end U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen.” Yet the Saudi-led war on Yemen by definition, is an offensive operation. Saudi Arabia is bombing and blockading another country: Between March 2015 and July 2021, the Saudis conducted a minimum of 23,251 air raids, which killed or injured 18,616 civilians. The Houthis, known formally as Ansarallah, launch missiles in retaliation but if Saudi airstrikes ceased, the Houthis would have little reason to provoke their powerful neighbor. As long as the U.S. materially and rhetorically backs the Saudis’ war of choice, Biden’s assertion that the U.S. would end support for offensive operations is a lie. 

The second crucial flaw in Biden’s approach is that he did not call for an immediate end to the Saudi blockade of Yemen. The blockade primarily blocks fuel from entering the Houthi-controlled Hodeida port; the Saudis also prevent the use of Sanaa International Airport. Blockades cannot be defensive: they are offensive operations, and therefore U.S. involvement should have ended following Biden’s declaration in February. The U.S. tacitly cooperated with the blockade by not challenging it, and the U.S. Navy occasionally announces it has intercepted smuggled weapons from Iran, suggesting a more active role than the administration admits. Congress should investigate.

Just this week, the Biden White House and State Department announced the US will be selling another $650 million in weapons to Saudi Arabia, hiding behind the nonsensical talking point that the weapons are “purely defensive.”

There was a time when MSNBC media personalities did act like they cared about what the UN calls the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” which has killed almost a quarter of a million people.  

MSNBC ignored the war almost completely during the Obama years and early Trump years. But after the Saudi coalition bombed a school bus in August 2018, and Saudi dictator Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, they—like much of the U.S. media—finally began reporting on the regime’s human rights abuses. For a while. 

MSNBC ran multiple segments on the war in the second half of 2018 when it was considered very much Trump’s war. 

After this spasm of concern in late 2018, the coverage largely died out. As I noted in FAIR at the time, when activist pressure to pass a resolution compelling an end to U.S. support for the war was at its most urgent in March 2019, MSNBC ignored the effort altogether. There was a brief aside about Trump’s veto of said Yemen war powers act by Rachel Maddow on April 16, 2019, but it amounted to little more than a passing mention. 

The next—and it turns out last—time an actual segment aired on the Yemen war was on Morning Joe in July 2020. This report, by NBC News’ Keir Simmons, did mention the war and the U.S.’s role in it, with a focus on how Covid was killing Yemenis. But since the July 2020 Morning Joe report, there have been no segments aired on MSNBC about the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing of Yemen.

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Abandoning Yemen? – Original

Posted by M. C. on October 15, 2021

United Nations Human Rights Council action silences Yemeni human rights victims.

by Kathy Kelly

Monday, October 11, marked the official closure of the U.N. Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (also known as the Group of Experts or GEE). For nearly four years, this investigative group examined alleged abuses suffered by Yemenis whose basic rights to food, shelter, safety, health care and education were horribly violated, all while they were bludgeoned by Saudi and U.S. air strikes, drone attacks, and constant warfare since 2014.

“This is a major setback for all victims who have suffered serious violations during the armed conflict,” the GEE wrote in a statement the day after the UN Human Rights Council refused to extend a mandate for continuation of the group’s work “The Council appears to be abandoning the people of Yemen,” the statement says, adding that “Victims of this tragic armed conflict should not be silenced by the decision of a few States.”

Prior to the vote, there were indications that Saudi Arabia and its allies, such as Bahrain (which sits on the UN Human Rights Council), had increased lobbying efforts worldwide in a bid to do away with the Group of Experts. Actions of the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen had been examined and reported on by the Group of Experts. Last year, the Saudi bid for a seat on the Human Rights Council was rejected, but Bahrain serves as its proxy.

Bahrain is a notorious human rights violator and a staunch member of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-led coalition which buys billions of dollars worth of weaponry from the United States and other countries to bomb Yemen’s infrastructure, kill civilians, and displace millions of people.

The Group of Experts was mandated to investigate violations committed by all warring parties. So it’s possible that the Ansar Allah leadership, often known as the Houthis, also wished to avoid the group’s scrutiny. The Group of Experts’ mission has come to an end, but the fear and intimidation faced by Yemeni victims and witnesses continues.

Mwatana for Human Rights, an independent Yemeni organization established in 2007, advocates for human rights by reporting on issues such as the torture of detainees, grossly unfair trials, patterns of injustice, and starvation by warfare through the destruction of farms and water sources. Mwatana had hoped the UN Human Rights Council would grant the Group of Experts a multi-year extension. Members of Mwatana fear their voice will be silenced within the United Nations if the Human Rights Council’s decision is an indicator of how much the council cares about Yemenis.

“The GEE is the only independent and impartial mechanism working to deter war crimes and other violations by all parties to the conflict,” said Radhya Almutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights. She believes that doing away with this body will give a green light to continue violations that condemn millions in Yemen to “‘unremitting violence, death and constant fear.’”

The Yemen Data Project, founded in 2016, is an independent entity aiming to collect data on the conduct of the war in Yemen. Their most recent monthly report tallied the number of air raids in September, which had risen to the highest monthly rate since March.

Sirwah, a district in the Marib province, was – for the ninth consecutive month – the most heavily targeted district in Yemen, with twenty-nine air raids recorded throughout September. To get a sense of scale, imagine a district the size of three city neighborhoods being bombed twenty-nine times in one month.

Intensified fighting has led to large waves of displacement within the governorate, and sites populated by soaring numbers of refugees are routinely impacted by shelling and airstrikes. Pressing humanitarian needs include shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene, and medical care. Without reports from the Yemen Data Project, the causes of the dire conditions in Sirwah could be shrouded in secrecy. This is a time to increase, not abandon, attention to Yemenis trapped in war zones.

In early 1995, I was among a group of activists who formed a campaign called Voices in the Wilderness to publicly defy economic sanctions against Iraq. Some of us had been in Iraq during the 1991 U.S.-led Operation Desert Storm invasion. The United Nations reported that hundreds of thousands of children under age five had already died and that the economic sanctions contributed to these deaths. We felt compelled to at least try to break the economic sanctions against Iraq by declaring our intent to bring medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi hospitals and families.

But to whom would we deliver these supplies?

Voices in the Wilderness founders agreed that we would start by contacting Iraqis in our neighborhoods and also try to connect with groups concerned with peace and justice in the Middle East. So I began asking Iraqi shopkeepers in my Chicago neighborhood for advice; they were understandably quite wary.

One day, as I walked away from a shopkeeper who had actually given me an extremely helpful phone number for a parish priest in Baghdad, I overheard another customer ask what that was all about. The shopkeeper replied: “Oh, they’re just a group of people trying to make a name for themselves.”

I felt crestfallen. Now, twenty-six years later, it’s easy for me to understand his reaction. Why should anyone trust people as strange as we must have seemed?

No wonder I’ve felt high regard for the UN Group of Experts who went to bat for human rights groups struggling for “street cred” regarding Yemen.

When Yemeni human rights advocates try to sound the alarm about terrible abuses, they don’t just face hurt feelings when met with antagonism. Yemeni human rights activists have been jailed, tortured, and disappeared. Yemen’s civil society activists do need to make a name for themselves.

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Why is CNN doing PR for a Middle Eastern dictatorship? – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on October 4, 2021

The cable news giant is an ‘official broadcaster’ of an upcoming UAE state-run, six-month ‘expo’ that is seemingly meant to burnish its global image.

Written by
Eli Clifton

The Dubai Expo, launching on Friday, promises “the world’s greatest show” according to spokesperson Chris Hemsworth in a commercial featuring a flying subway train, “opportunity, mobility, sustainability, the finest examples of human ability,” ballroom dancing androids, and flying whales. 

The CGI-infused-circus might not reflect the reality of the United Arab Emirates’ problematic human rights record, backing of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, or its alleged efforts to infiltrate the upper echelons of the Republican Party, according to an indictment against Trump fundraiser Thomas J. Barrack. But it is a concise example of the full-court-press branding campaign surrounding the Expo, a six month extravaganza reportedly costing the United Arab Emirates $7 billion.

And what’s the Expo’s special weapon in selling its whitewashed version of Dubai and the UAE? CNN. The cable news giant is, according to a CNN press release, the Expo’s “official broadcaster.”

“As the eyes of the world turn towards the UAE from October-March for Expo 2020 Dubai, CNN will be an Official Broadcaster for the event, bringing unrivalled coverage to global audiences and staging a prominent presence at Expo itself,” said CNN.

CNN doesn’t specify whether the Expo is paying for the extensive coverage. But the press release boasts the network is planning live coverage on its “flagship shows Connect the World with Becky Anderson, Quest Means Business, and CNN Talk.”

Ambiguity about CNN’s role in covering the Expo, a track record of producing sponsored content for Dubai and publication of a slew of articles profiling Dubai and promoting tourism in the emirate raise ethical and legal questions.

“CNN’s relationship with the dictatorship that rules the United Arab Emirates lacks transparency,” said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a group leading a boycott effort against the Expo. “The UAE’s rulers have long used propaganda campaigns to hide their horrible human rights crimes, and CNN appears to be playing a role in supporting this dictatorship’s PR agenda.”

The news network appears to have a longstanding financial relationship with Dubai to promote the emirate. Responsible Statecraft asked CNN for clarification about its role as the “official broadcaster” of the Dubai expo, whether the network continues to produce sponsored content for Dubai, and what controls clients in Dubai hold or held over the network’s production of sponsored content.

RS also asked whether CNN’s production and distribution of sponsored content for clients in Dubai falls under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a statute requiring registration for entities within the United States serving as “as a foreign principal’s public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee, or political consultant,” according to the Department of Justice.

Neither CNN nor its parent company, Turner Broadcasting, are registered.

CNN did not respond to the questions.

“These ‘news articles’ read like propaganda or, at best, tourism brochures,” said Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. “Many foreign governments’ tourism promotion boards are registered under FARA, and their work doesn’t seem to be much different from what CNN is doing for the UAE.”

CNN promotes its paid work for Dubai in a case-study on the reach and impact of its commercial work for clients. “Dubai sought to expand on their reputation as a leading destination for business, commerce and events, specifically targeting those who had never been to Dubai and those who had only ever used Dubai as a stopover,” says the study.

“Utilising the reach of the CNN platforms, a series of 10 videos were put together, highlighting Dubai’s broad culture using their trademark cinematic storytelling to inspire,” said CNN.

CNN’s labeling of sponsored content for Dubai appears inconsistent and, in some cases, downright confusing.

A February article titled, “Dubai gives a glimpse inside its Expo Sustainability Pavilion,” featured a video about the Expo and promoted the sustainable energy initiatives providing a portion of the Expo’s electricity needs.

“CNN’s series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile,” said an “editor’s note” at the top of the article. “However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports.”

CNN did not specify whether the article or video promoting the Expo were, in fact, sponsored content.

On Facebook, a series of videos were prominently labeled “sponsored by Visit Dubai” but at least one of those video segments was published on CNN’s website with no disclosure that it was sponsored by Visit Dubai.

Earlier this month, journalists Gabe Levine-Drizin and Adam Johnson flagged that “CNN has a travel vertical called ‘Dubai Now’ that focuses exclusively on how wonderful, fun, progressive, tolerant, and innovative the Gulf dictatorship of the United Arab Emirates is, and the outlet won’t say if the articles are paid PR for the Emirati regime.”

They cataloged 105 articles appearing to promote Dubai tourism since the beginning of November 2020 containing no disclosure of CNN’s creation of sponsored content to promote travel to Dubai or CNN’s role as the “official broadcaster” of the Expo.

The six-month-long Expo begins on Friday and, according to CNN, its coverage of the event is only ramping up. If the network’s opacity about its relationship with the Expo and Dubai tourism continue, it may pose an ongoing challenge for efforts to distinguish its independently produced journalism from state-sponsored content promoting a sanitized image of an undemocratic nation with a problematic human rights record and a history of seeking illicit influence over U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

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Politicians Concerned about Violence Should Start by Ending Their Wars and Their Police State | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2021

David R. Iglesias

On April 8, 2021, President Biden addressed the public concerning new executive orders he is planning on putting through. This will be on top of the forty-eight other executive orders that have already come from the man who just last October was saying, “I have this strange notion—we are a democracy … [there are] things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. We’re a democracy, we need consensus.” He’s already surpassed both Trump and Obama in executive orders issued during the first four months of their respective presidencies.

It looks like the next EOs Biden aims at mandating are related to the topic of gun control: “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic. Let me say it again. Gun violence in this country is an epidemic.” This is ironic coming from the former vice president of the Obama administration, which started regime change wars in countries like Yemen, Libya, and Syria which in large part included supplying certain “moderate” rebel groups like al-Nusra and ISIS with weapons, cash, and intelligence support that was ultimately used to slaughter innocent men, women, and children.

Weapons to Libya

In his most recent book, Enough Already, Scott Horton (2021) fully displays just how devastating the foreign policies of all the US presidents going back to Jimmy Carter have been for people living in the Middle East. For example, in Libya, the Obama administration had been secretly allowing weapons to arrive from Qatar during the attempted overthrow of then dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The story was that the US was helping “moderate” Libyan rebels overthrow their brutal dictator in order to bring liberty and democracy to the turmoiled country. However, as Scott makes abundantly clear: this was completely false and the Obama administration was really “taking the terrorists’ side against Gaddafi in Libya … they were Libyans who had just come home from fighting America in Afghanistan and Iraq War II” (2021, pp. 163, 165). It is especially worth pointing out that some of these terrorist groups receiving support from Obama were “a bunch of horrible anti-black racists” who had “cleansed the predominantly black town of Tawergha … many of whom were tortured and killed, their property put to the torch” (2021, p. 166). Apart from the murder and rape of innocents in Libya, the US government’s actions under Obama and Biden left the country in a state of devastating civil war and also opened the doors for modern-day chattel slave auctions. Even Obama admits that Libya was a “shit show.”

Weapons to Syria

Libya became a weapons pipeline for rebels in Syria—who were also being backed by the United States government—and it was headed by the CIA’s own director, David Petraeus. Again, Scott Horton, quoting journalist Seymour Hersh, points out that these weapons were being delivered to “jihadists, some of them affiliated with al Qaeda” (2021, p. 172). In Syria, a similar regime change was occurring just as had happened to Gaddafi. This time the target was President Bashar al-Assad. The hope was that if the US could overthrow Assad, they’d “further isolate Iran” by removing “Iran’s only Arab ally,” Syria (Horton 2021, p. 182). It should come as no surprise, however, that in the US’s endeavor to conduct another regime change, they would again be caught up in giving weapons and support to terrorists who also wanted to overthrow Assad. During this time (2012), Libya’s insurgency was basically controlled by terrorist organization al-Nusra. When the US worked to get weapons into the hands of these “moderate” rebels, they were really just ending back up in the hands of Islamist extremists whom the US had been going to war against just years before. Once again, the Obama administration made the US responsible for aiding the some of the most horrific insurgency groups, who

murdered children, used suicide car and truck bombs against civilian and military targets, blindly shelled civilian neighborhoods, used torture, carried out mass-executions of captured army soldiers, executed people with crucifixions and beheadings. (Horton 2021, p. 196)

In 2014, then vice president Biden even admitted to the absurdity of trying to find and support “moderate” rebel groups in Syria, although he tried to frame it as if it were all the United States’s alies’ fault. Thanks in large part to the US’s involvement in Syria, the country has been devastated and

the terrorists ha[ve] carved a new Islamist Caliphate the size of Great Britain out of the sands of western Iraq and Eastern Syria. [Bin Laden] could never have done it without the assistance of the United States of America in the hands of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. (Horton 2021, p. 202)

Weapons to Yemen

In 2015, Obama started yet another unauthorized war alongside the Saudis against the Houthis in Yemen—this being shortly after the Houthis had ousted their “democratically”1 elected president Hadi in 2014. The reason? The never-ending desire to gain more leverage against Iran, as well as to “placate the Saudis“ while the US was in the middle of the Iran Nuclear Deal (Horton 2021, p. 241). The US government was directly supplying the Saudis with bombs, parts for the aircraft dropping those bombs, fuel for tankers, and satellite intelligence over targets (Horton 2021, p. 241); more recently it has been shown that they are still sending shipments of US weapons and armored vehicles into Yemen—as reported by CNN. The US-Saudi coalition against the relatively small country has created what many have called the worst humanitarian crisis.

The destruction that the American politicians and their allies left with the Yemenis is unimaginable. After deliberately targeting nonmilitary infrastructure such as hospitals, water treatment plants, schools (including a school bus full of children), and food production systems, and then placing blockades on the country to further cripple its people, Yemen has been turned into a complete disaster. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, an estimated one hundred thousand people have been killed since 2015. Countless children are suffering and dying from cholera and other diseases. Scott Horton predicts that the number will really turn out to be something like “half a million or more civilians who have been killed by this war, beyond the tens of thousands killed in direct violence.” (2021, p. 252)

Violence at Home

Biden’s newest executive orders come just shortly after the Colorado shooting on March 22. The significance of this event is that the shooter, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was born in Syria and moved to the US when he was still a child. Less than a month before the Colorado tragedy, Biden ordered his first strike on Syria as president in retaliation to an Iranian missile attack on a military base in Iraq. While there hasn’t been any clear evidence that Alissa was motivated by the Syrian bombing, one outlet reported that a Facebook post by Alissa from 2019 addressed in part the “genocide in Syria.” Considering the long list of retaliatory terrorist attacks in the US over the years—e.g., the 2009 Ft. Hood massacre, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Florida, the 2017 Ariana Grande concert bombing (Horton 2021, pp. 271–76)—it isn’t a stretch to believe that Colorado is another tragedy following the trend. The longer the US continues its intervention overseas, the more likely we are going to see the violence come home.

Additionally, violence in the US has been exacerbated by policies like those supported and put forward by people like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Biden has a very lengthy and controversial history in his time as a “public servant.” He is notorious for contributing to the tough-on-crime attitude in the US as well as the war on drugs. Harris worked as a prosecutor for California and was rightfully called out by Tulsi Gabbard during the presidential debates for the 2020 elections for locking people up over marijuana charges. Such rhetoric and policies have devastated millions of lives. It was reported that in 2019 alone over 1.5 million arrests were made for drug violations—over 85 percent of those being for mere possession—and a significant portion of those arrests were in relation to marijuana. A 2014 American Civil Liberties Union report showed that between 2011 and 2012, 62 percent of SWAT raids were drug searches. One such raid was conducted on a family who was growing tea leaves. More recently we saw the murder of Breonna Taylor when the Louisville Metro Police Department also conducted a no-knock home invasion over drug charges. Duncan Lemp was murdered just twenty-four hours before Breonna Taylor in the same fashion.

The greatest irony about the claims against United States citizens having “weapons of war” is that while these claims refer to semiautomatic rifles, law enforcement inside the US actually receives equipment from the military thanks to the 1033 program. This program gets military equipment like mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP)2 vehicles, M-16 rifles, helicopters, and even grenade launchers into the hands of local police agencies. During his presidency, Obama used an EO to put an end to the pipeline between police and military, but Trump, in 2017, revived the program. It seems that in all of his work via EOs to reverse certain policies by Trump, Biden has yet to undo the resurrection of the 1033 program. In fact, one statistic shows that in Q1 of Biden’s first year as president there’s been an increase in “flow of military gear.”

Reason to Doubt

While they might claim to be on the “right” side of certain issues now, it is hard to take seriously the words of politicians who claim to care about the people and their safety while they are supporting policies—or at least not making as much a fuss about them as they do about “domestic gun violence” or “Asian hate”—that put weapons and money into the hands of terrorists who help the US government slaughter innocent people overseas or starve children to death while causing others to die of disease because their country’s infrastructure has been blown to bits and blockades prevent the necessary medical aid to save them, tragedy that then inspires people of those countries to retaliate and bring more death upon the rest of us. The absurdity becomes even more apparent when these same “public servants” cry about “weapons of war” being placed into the hands of the people while actual military equipment is being funneled into law enforcement. They might cry and appear outraged about the deaths of victims like Breonna Taylor, but her death comes from the legacy of tough-on-crime and drug war policies that these politicians at one point supported and helped enforce.

  • 1. Democratic in this context meaning that his name was the only one on the ballot.
  • 2. In 2014 it was reported that thirteen thousand of these tanklike vehicles were given to police departments. Dan Parsons, “Repurposed MRAPs Find New Life in Police Agencies,” National Defense, April 2014.


David R. Iglesias

David Iglesias is a writer and undergraduate student majoring in Economics in Utah.

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The anti-war wing of both parties is dead

Posted by M. C. on August 21, 2020

Each candidate has duly recited his lines about ending endless wars and can truthfully point to his opponent’s failure to do likewise. And whoever takes office in January can continue exactly that failure, probably without much political consequence. He can deplore his bombs and drop them too. Americans will remain preoccupied with more immediate domestic concerns; Washington will stay stuck in its interventionist consensus; and those endless wars will live up to their name.

Bonnie Kristian

Elect Joe Biden, former (Republican) Secretary of State Colin Powell said in his Democratic National Convention appearance Tuesday night, and he’ll “restore America’s leadership in the world.”

Powell’s comments were followed by a video touting Biden’s friendship with the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), another heavyweight GOP hawk. Meanwhile, there’s a pro-Biden super PAC of George W. Bush administration alumni, and Biden has racked up support from a who’s who of neoconservatives (Bill Kristol, Max Boot, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin), as commentators left and right have observed.

These alignments highlight an increasingly undeniable fact of American politics in 2020: The anti-war wing of both major parties is dead. Your presidential choice is between war and war. There’s no faction of Republicans or Democrats which combines real power with a durable, principled interest in turning American foreign policy away from global empire.

That’s not to say no one in major-party politics diverges from Washington’s standard-issue military interventionism. There’s Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) challenging Trump administration officials in Senate hearings and seeking to counter Trump’s more hawkish influences on the links. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has pushed for the U.S. to exit Yemen’s civil war and has slammed the administration’s January dalliance with executive warfare against Iran. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tries every year to rein in abuses of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has spent decades in lonely opposition to military adventurism. As a Democratic presidential candidate this past year, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was more interested in peace than the party establishment which has now twice rejected him as their standard-bearer.

I don’t mean to discount the good work of these and other comparatively anti-war legislators. It is not without effect. There’s some evidence, for example, that Paul steered Trump toward decreasing the U.S. military footprint in Syria. But neither should their ability to retain office confuse us into thinking they have more control over American foreign policy than they do.

The reality is these officials and anyone who agrees with them have little meaningful power on this issue — occasional influence, perhaps, but certainly not power than can be reliably wielded. Paul’s golf course chats with Trump may eke a win from time to time, but this is a lucky backchannel that can be dammed at any moment. It has no formal, institutional authority. This week’s handwringing at Foreign Policy about the supposed ascendancy of “isolationism” on left and right alike is absurd, the foreign policy version of Tucker Carlson’s bizarre claim of libertarian dominance of Washington. The main voices advocating greater restraint in American foreign affairs are not isolationist, and though they kick up quite a ruckus, they have little to no say over actual policy direction. How can anyone look at half a dozen wars and think we have an isolationism problem?

The Trump vs. Biden race only underlines this state of affairs. Neither will give us a foreign policy that can even plausibly be caricatured as isolationism, Trump’s inane protectionism notwithstanding.

The president pays occasional lip service to ending “endless wars” and prioritizing diplomacy (“the greatest deals,” in his parlance), but his better impulses are constantly overcome by his selfishness, short attention span, stupid militarism, and choice of counsel like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump has brought us closer to open conflict with China, squandered his chance for productive negotiations with North Korea, exacerbated tensions with Iran, and repeatedly recommitted to enabling Saudi war crimes. What few good foreign policy ideas he hits upon are almost always happenstance byproducts of service to his own political fortunes. He has yet to end a single war.

Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, are more conventional liberal interventionists than Trump, but the crucial assumption of intervention is same. There are a few points for war critics to like here, including Biden’s vehement opposition to the Obama-era surge in Afghanistan, Harris’s objection to U.S. involvement in Yemen, and their plan to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Biden pledges he’ll “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East,” but, like Trump, lacks a specific plan to do so. Biden has no apparent interest in Pentagon cuts, has hired some markedly hawkish advisers (are all those neocons going to stick around, too?), and is trying to out-hawk Trump on China. Certainly with Biden we can expect more multilateral diplomacy and fewer reckless tweets, but there’s little reason to think he’ll break the broader foreign policy patterns of the past 20 years.

From a purely political perspective, what’s curious about all this is the mutual foregoing of potential electoral gain. Restraint rhetoric is consistently popular — our last three presidents all campaigned on it to some degree — and public opinion is on a years-long trend toward wanting a smaller U.S. military role abroad, one more tailored to defending U.S. interests, narrowly conceived. You’d think one party or the other would espy an opportunity here.

Or perhaps both already have. Each candidate has duly recited his lines about ending endless wars and can truthfully point to his opponent’s failure to do likewise. And whoever takes office in January can continue exactly that failure, probably without much political consequence. He can deplore his bombs and drop them too. Americans will remain preoccupied with more immediate domestic concerns; Washington will stay stuck in its interventionist consensus; and those endless wars will live up to their name.

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Time To Pull the Troops From NATO: What Good Is an Alliance Full of Cheap-Riders? – Original

Posted by M. C. on June 8, 2020

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S troops from Germany by September. He also set a firm cap of 25,000, instead of allowing the number to swell to 52,000 as units rotate through or deploy for training.

It is a good start. But why did it take him more than three years to act on his criticism of allied cheap-riding on America? And what about the other 25,000 American military personnel in Germany?

Even after the US economy shut down and federal finances cratered, Washington’s foreign policy elite were seeking to add new international duties for Uncle Sam. America and China are teetering on a new cold war, which could turn hot in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is said, Washington must bolster its military alliances, security guarantees, and naval deployments.

Members of the Blob, as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been called, continue to ferociously oppose the slightest withdrawal from the Middle East. America must fix Syria by confronting the Assad government, ISIS, other Islamist radicals, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The US certainly cannot leave Iraq, irrespective of the wish of Iraqis. And America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, in the heart of Central Asia surrounded by Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, should be accepted as the start of a beautiful permanent commitment. As the Eagles declared in their famous song Hotel California, Washington can never leave-from anywhere.

Finally, the US must increase troop deployments, naval dispositions, and financial assistance not only to NATO members, but alliance wannabe joiners Georgia and Ukraine. Forget the supposedly frontline states of the Baltics and Poland. America must bolster the southern front lest Russia solidify its dominance in the Black Sea and add a base in Syria and another in Libya, analysts warned at a recent forum organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis. Just another step or two and the Mediterranean Sea could become Moscow’s Mare Nostrum, like for the old Roman Empire. Russia then might seek control the Atlantic and perhaps even invade Washington, D.C., following in Britain’s footsteps a couple centuries ago. Or something like that.

The attempt to constantly ensnare America in other nations’ conflicts is foolish, even reckless. First, the US has never been more secure. Its geographic position remains unassailable: large oceans east and west, pacific neighbors north and south. No power threatens to breach that perimeter. America’s navy deploys 11 carrier groups, compared to two carriers by China and one by Russia. The US air force easily secures American airspace, or at least would do so if much of it wasn’t deployed overseas. Only nuclear-tipped missiles pose a serious threat, but America’s arsenal vastly outranges that of every country other than Russia, and the latter would be annihilated in return if it struck the US

Terrorism remains an ugly threat, but mostly against Americans overseas. And it is largely self-inflicted, the consequence of Washington’s promiscuous foreign intervention: bombing, invading, and occupying other states, such as Iraq; taking sides in bitter conflicts of no concern to the US, such as Lebanon’s civil war; supporting brutal dictatorships as in Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; and backing nations which occupy and oppress minority populations, most notably Israel. Alas, Washington continues to unnecessarily create additional enemies every day.

Americans should not be surprised if some day angry Yemenis use terrorist methods to strike back against the US, which sold and serviced aircraft used by Saudi Arabia to wreck Yemeni cities, provided munitions dropped by Saudi warplanes on Yemeni weddings, funerals, apartments, and hospitals, refueled planes on their missions to slaughter Yemeni civilians, and offered intelligence to aid Riyadh’s air force in selecting targets. Put bluntly, the Obama and Trump administrations invited retaliation against the American people by aiding true terrorists against the Yemeni people.

Second, Washington has turned a means, alliances, into an end. Instead of using such relationships as a mechanism to improve US security, policymakers routinely sacrifice Americans’ safety and prosperity to continually expand security guarantees, leaving tripwires for war around the globe.

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

Third, Washington engages in never-ending social engineering that rarely succeeds and would be of little value to Americans even if it did work. Three successive administration have spent almost 18 years trying to turn Afghanistan into a liberal Western-style democracy. Worse was blowing up Iraq in expectation that contending ethnic, religious, and political groups would join together singing Kumbaya as they helped America battle Iran. President Barack Obama, a paladin of modern liberalism, ensured Libya’s destruction in the belief that something good would happen. He also imagined that Washington’s ivory tower warriors could fix Syria-simultaneously oust Bashar al-Assad, vanquish the Islamic State, empower “moderate” insurgents, pacify Turkey, oust Iran and Russia, protect Syrian Kurds, and foster democracy. Trump added the theft of Syrian oil as an American objective. Rarely have international plans been more chimerical, complicated, and costly.

The US is constantly expanding its defense obligations even as its financial health worsens. The federal government currently is borrowing record amounts-likely more than $4 trillion this year and $2 trillion next year-yet continues to subsidize the defense of populous, prosperous industrialized nation, rebuild failed states, bind together fake countries, hunt down other nations’ enemies, and sacrifice American lives and wealth to play international social engineer. The waste and hubris are bipartisan. Despite marginal differences among liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans, the vast majority of Blob members work assiduously to ensure that the US spends as much as possible, devotes as many resources as possible, deploys as many soldiers as possible, and fights as many wars as possible, all in the name of protecting America despite almost always having the opposite effect.

Washington needs to start scaling back its outlandish ambitions, rediscovering humility and prudence. A good starting point, as the president apparently believes, is Europe.

Foreign policy determines military requirements and force structure. All should change along with circumstances. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization made sense as a temporary shield behind which Europe could revive economically and reconstruct politically. While it doesn’t appear that the Soviet Union ever seriously contemplated launching the Red Army on a march to the Atlantic Ocean, it would have been foolish to take the risk.

However, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the alliance’s supreme commander before becoming president, warned against permanent US deployments lest the continent become dependent on America. And he was right. Europe soon rebuilt and sped past the Soviet Empire, as even East German cities still sported evidence of World War II decades after the bombs stopped falling. Nevertheless, at the height of the Cold War the rising West Europeans continued to pass the bill for their defense to Washington. Their governments routinely promised to spend more and then reneged on their commitments. But the US still paid. The lesson was well-learned by Europe…

And so on

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America’s Saudi Partnership Is Now Killing Americans | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 29, 2020

…the FBI announced that they had recovered evidence from the phone of Ahmed Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi military officer responsible for the Pensacola Naval Station shooting. The evidence showed that he had been in contact with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the jihadist group affiliate based in Yemen. AQAP later claimed responsibility for the attack. Even if the Pensacola attack was not specifically directed by AQAP, it was certainly carried out by someone who had been communicating with them for years.

Saudi Arabia has never been a U.S. ally, and we are getting regular reminders that we shouldn’t want them as a client, either.

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America’s Saudi Partnership Is Now Killing Americans

We never needed them as an ally, and now they’re more of a liability as a client, too

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. (By Matias Lynch/Shutterstock)

The U.S.-Saudi relationship has been badly weakened over the last few years, and it seems as if there are new reasons for ending that relationship every week. Saudi war crimes in Yemen and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi served to turn much of Washington against the kingdom, and their reckless foreign policy has given even some of their regular supporters cause for alarm. The Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has done a remarkable job of burning his bridges with even the most reliable pro-Saudi hawks in Washington.

The Saudis’ ill-advised oil price war this spring alienated many of their few remaining allies on Capitol Hill, and it prompted a rare threat from the Trump administration that the U.S. would cut off military support to the kingdom unless Saudi oil production was reduced. Three years of impunity and constant indulgence of his many other crimes probably made the crown prince believe that he could do whatever he wanted without suffering consequences, but once again he misjudged and overreached.

Other recent revelations have reminded us how dangerous the relationship with the Saudis has been for the U.S. Last week, the FBI announced that they had recovered evidence from the phone of Ahmed Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi military officer responsible for the Pensacola Naval Station shooting. The evidence showed that he had been in contact with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the jihadist group affiliate based in Yemen. AQAP later claimed responsibility for the attack. Even if the Pensacola attack was not specifically directed by AQAP, it was certainly carried out by someone who had been communicating with them for years. According to the FBI, Alshamrani’s connection to AQAP dated back to 2015, the same year that the Saudi coalition bombing of Yemen began with U.S. assistance.

Part of the assistance that the U.S. provided to the Saudi coalition over the last five years has been the training of their pilots. This was done ostensibly to improve the pilots’ targeting, but in practice it has just put our government’s stamp of approval on a bombing campaign that has killed thousands of civilians through indiscriminate attacks on villages and cities across that devastated country. It now turns out that the training program also exposed the U.S. to infiltration by a terrorist who somehow managed to become an officer in the Royal Saudi Air Force. If the Saudis vet their own pilots this badly and allow someone in league with an Al Qaeda affiliate to serve in their military for years, what possible value can they have as a security partner?

For the last five years, the U.S. has aided and abetted Saudi Arabia and its allies in the destruction of Yemen. That has involved providing the Saudi coalition with weapons that it uses to kill civilians, and it has also meant selling them weapons that they hand off to terrorists and other criminals. Saudi coalition forces have not only made tacit alliances with local Al Qaeda members, but have recruited and armed them as well. None of this has been a secret. This was reported in July 2015:

Meanwhile, Saudi-backed militias are spearheading efforts to roll back Houthi gains and reinstate the government that the rebels drove into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia. But they have turned to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, for help, according to local residents and a senior Western diplomat. This puts the U.S.-allied Gulf kingdom on the same side as one of the world’s most notorious extremist groups.

There have been reports about Saudi coalition cooperation with local Al Qaeda members since the earliest months of the war, but it has changed nothing in U.S. policy. Washington simply ignores that the Saudis are in cahoots with an Al Qaeda affiliate because it is taken for granted that opposing so-called Iranian “expansionism” is supposed to be more important.

The Saudi Embassy responded to the news about Alshamrani by calling attention to the war on Yemen in a failed attempt to boost their counter-terrorism credentials:

The Saudi government and its U.S. boosters sometimes defend the relationship by emphasizing its importance for counter-terrorism, but the same government and its allies are responsible for fueling a war that has greatly strengthened AQAP and the Saudi coalition has funneled weapons and money to designated terrorists in Yemen. Far from preventing Yemen from becoming a haven for terrorist groups, the Saudi government has acted as their benefactor and enabler. Not only has their war destabilized Yemen and undermined U.S. counter-terrorism efforts there, but it has directly boosted the very groups that they claim to oppose.

The Saudi Embassy asserts that the kingdom has an “unbreakable commitment” to combat these groups, but they have been breaking that commitment on a daily basis for the last five years at least. They say that the training the U.S. provides has allowed their forces to fight against “our common foes,” but in truth they have been on the same side as some of those foes when it was expedient for waging their war. If the Pensacola shooting shows Saudi incompetence, their conduct of the war in Yemen proves their unreliability.

The embassy statement claims that the kingdom will use all means at their disposal to “counter the men, money and mindset of terrorism that enables AQAP,” but this is contradicted by years of Saudi enabling and arming of Al Qaeda members and likeminded groups in Yemen. CNN reported last year about the transfer of U.S.-weapons to Al Qaeda-linked fighters and other extremist groups:

Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States, a CNN investigation has found.

Saudi professions of solidarity are hollow. The U.S.-Saudi “partnership” is a sham, because their government is violating the agreements it made with ours on the use of U.S.-made weapons. We cannot trust them to have U.S.-made weapons without committing war crimes or handing them over to terrorists, so our government should no longer be selling them any more weapons.

This hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from pulling out all the stops to keep the arms flowing to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Last year, the administration made a bogus emergency declaration to expedite arms sales to both countries over the objections of Congress. The declaration was an obvious abuse of the law governing the exports of weapons, and Congress passed resolutions rejecting and condemning it. A State Department inspector general’s investigation into that emergency declaration appears to be one of the reasons why Secretary of State Pompeo pushed for the inspector general’s removal earlier this month. At the end of last week, the administration cleared the way for new sales to the UAE despite evidence that they violated their previous agreements.

U.S. training of Saudi military officers brought a jihadist into our country. That jihadist then killed three American sailors and wounded eight others at one of our naval bases. That happened because the U.S. was providing training that the Saudis would then use to attack Yemen as part of their indefensible war there, and that bombing campaign is made possible by the U.S. assistance and weapons that our government provides them. This is the noxious U.S.-Saudi relationship in microcosm: we train and supply their military to wage a horrible war that increases the threat to the U.S., and that ends up killing Americans on American soil.

Saudi Arabia has never been a U.S. ally, and we are getting regular reminders that we shouldn’t want them as a client, either.

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