On November 28, the Secretary of State told the world that “Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relive suffering in Yemen.” Pretty soon, Saudi Arabia’s spokesman would not have a job anymore.
The Guardian reported that in 2017, the Yemen appeal for $2.5bn was only 73% funded, but that the needs have intensified in a country battered since 2015 by a Saudi-led military offensive aimed at repelling Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital. In April this year, during a UN donor conference for people affected by war in Yemen – labelled as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” – has received pledges of more than $2bn, close to half of which is promised by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two key protagonists in the conflict, according to the same report. Click here for the OCHA page for pledges and paid contributions for Yemen.
On October 24, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller re-issued a disaster declaration for the ongoing complex emergency in Yemen for FY 2018 due to “continued humanitarian needs resulting from the complex emergency and the impact of the country’s political and economic crises on vulnerable populations.” USAID’s November 9, 2018 Factsheet on Yemen Disaster Assistance indicates that the United States humanitarian funding for the Yemen response in FY2018 is $566,273,269 (includes funding through the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP), and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM)). Secretary Pompeo’s tweet on November 28 says that the United States is providing an “additional” $131 million in food assistance to Yemen.
According to the CRS, since March 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance, and shared intelligence in support of military operations in Yemen. Excerpt:
In May 2017, President Trump signaled a continuation and deepening of bilateral defense cooperation, announcing completed and proposed defense sales during his visit to Riyadh with a potential value of more than $110 billion. The sales include cases that the Obama Administration had proposed and notified to Congress, cases developed under the Obama Administration on which Congress had been preliminarily consulted, and new sales that remain under development.
The United States’ role in supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen has evolved over time. 65 At present, it consists of some intelligence sharing, aerial refueling, and the deployment of advisers to Saudi Arabia for border security and anti-ballistic missile purposes.66 In his latest biannual War Powers letters to Congress on the deployment of U.S. forces abroad in combat operations (P.L. 93-148), President Trump informed Congress about ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations in Yemen and stated that U.S. forces in noncombat roles were providing “military advice and limited information, logistics, and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency.”
So, on one hand, we’re supporting the side that’s indiscriminately bombing hospitals, school buses and children, and on the other hand, we’re spending millions of dollars for food and humanitarian assistance to help those who are bombed and starved. Also, our Secretary of Swagger did not just announced the additional millions in food assistance but also cited “our generous example” in “galvanizing humanitarian assistance.” When is this going up on Instagram, people?
By the way, the most recent USAID/OFDA official said “no amount of aid money can prevent this famine” and that absent massive political pressure on the Saudi, this is just “window dressing.”
Related item: Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF) | Updated September 21, 2018 (Congressional Research Service).
Iran’s regime has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians. Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in #Yemen. Iran has invested zero.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 28, 2018
Through our generous example, the U.S. has galvanized humanitarian assistance to ease Yemeni people’s suffering. Today we’re announcing nearly $131 million in additional food assistance in #Yemen, bringing total humanitarian aid to more than $697 million over the past 14 months.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 28, 2018
The idea that Saudi Arabia cares about ordinary Yemenis and is seeking to “relieve suffering” in Yemen is ludicrous. The fact that Pompeo has to use such talking points shows how weak the case for US support of this war is. https://t.co/FsEJ7fS99p
— Amy Hawthorne (@awhawth) November 29, 2018
Mr. Secretary, Iran is not bombing Yemen. Saudi Arabia is, using munitions from US defense contractors, precipitating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. https://t.co/3GTChdmZGv This happened on your watch. What will you do about it? cc @statedeptspox pic.twitter.com/2nJFDkXDWw
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) November 28, 2018
Pompeo today to Senators on Yemen: "I know many of you
think it’s time to pack up and abandon the role we’ve been playing since the previous
administration. I’m here to tell you why that’s a bad call."
Five & change hours later, 63 Senators voted to rebuke him.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) November 28, 2018
As the guy who used to oversee that very aid, let me say explicitly: no amount of aid money can prevent this famine. Without massive political pressure on the Saudis, this is just window dressing. https://t.co/gj01ePZaOn
— Jeremy Konyndyk (@JeremyKonyndyk) November 28, 2018
Every day, 130 children under 5 were dying from extreme hunger & disease in #Yemen at the end of last year.
Nearly 50,000 children during the course of a year.
— UN Humanitarian (@UNOCHA) October 23, 2018
"Desperate. Devastated. Financially, mentally, morally. Completely devastated." pic.twitter.com/0GZYlHa7RX
— VICE News (@vicenews) November 25, 2018
Responding to Sec. of State Pompeo’s op-ed today in the WSJ, Yemen’s Houthi-backed foreign minister launched a scathing appeal to the US to not use Yemen to fight a proxy war with Saudi Arabia.
They “are trying to fight Iran in our territory. Why don’t they go to Iran?" pic.twitter.com/dTDcZ0kcyl
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) November 28, 2018