Trump's mantra of business before humanity is wrecking Yemeni lives

Trump's mantra of business before humanity is wrecking Yemeni lives
Comment: For Trump, business deals come first and humanity little more than an afterthought, writes a Yemeni journalist.
4 min read
29 Apr, 2019
The wreckage of a bus destroyed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike [AFP]
Yemen has been at war over the past four years and its people continue to wait in vain for peace.

World powers maintain their support for the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen, and a lasting solution seems further from reach than ever.

Earlier this month, US president Donald Trump vetoed a congressional resolution aimed at terminating US support for the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been waging bloody war in Yemen since 2015.

Congress is apparently eager to disengage the US from a conflict that has caused Yemeni civilians to suffer violence, poverty and epidemics for the last four years.

But President Trump's veto has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the alarming humanitarian realities in the country. He is apparently unmoved by the plight of civilians and children who die daily in clashes, or because of famine or cholera.

Greenlighting the continuity of war in Yemen, he apparently feels no remorse when he sees US-made missiles char human bodies, or turn hospitals and schools into little more than piles of debris.

Thinking and acting with his usual self-righteous abandon, Trump said that "This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future."

According to this baseless rationale, Trump reasons that stopping the war in Yemen would pose a danger to the US in the short and long-term.

According to this baseless rationale, Trump reasons that stopping the war in Yemen would pose a danger to the US

In reality, ending the war in Yemen would affect the revenues of US companies selling arms to Saudis and Emiratis; likely the real concern for Trump. In the view of such a leader, deals come first and humanity is peripheral.  

According to Layla Picard, founder and executive director of the Yemen Peace Project, "it is very likely that personal financial interests also shape the decisions of the president, his advisors, and some members of his cabinet".

Many who argue in favour of US support for the Saudi-led coalition cite what they see as the 'expansionist' policy of Iran in the Middle East, believing that ending the US involvement in Yemen would result in increased Iranian influence in the region, which they say poses real geopolitical dangers to Saudi Arabia. 

But when a Saudi jet levels a public facility in Yemen, civilians remain unconvinced the war is aimed solely at countering Iran in the region.

Read more: Yemeni officials say 'Saudi bombing' kills seven family members

Rather, it is the coalition that has been undermining the legitimate government in Yemen, keeping the president in exile, and obstructing the performance of the government which has emboldened the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen.

If the US still believes in the legitimacy of the internationally recognised government, it should support it and pressure the coalition - particularly UAE - to stop undermining this government.

If however, the US does not see this government as the legitimate representative of Yemen, it should stop supporting its military operations and push for other alternatives for a peaceful end to the political stalemate. This is the sort of support which Yemen needs; support that leads to building a solid state.

For many Yemenis,Trump's veto of Congress' bill is synonymous with giving the Saudis the green light to continue their war in Yemen. According to some reports, 700,000 have been killed in Yemen since January 2016. But the US-backed Arab coalition countries are quick to justify these atrocities, shamelessly stating that "mistakes happen".

What we are seeing today is the intentional destruction of Yemen, and the wholesale suffering of all Yemenis. The country is at risk of fragmenting thanks in part to the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been backing diverse militant factions since its military intervention, with dire consequences.

What we are seeing today is the intentional destruction of Yemen

Trump's veto means that as the war strides into its fifth year, Yemenis can anticipate more American-made weapons being dropped on their cities, villages, valleys and mountains.

If the US is to be a real global peacemaker, it must stop fanning the flames of war in Yemen and elsewhere. Failure to do so means that while its military will flourish, wars will ravage people in foreign lands. Unfortunately for Yemenis, the US - a country with such money-hungry leadership - looks set to prioritise profits over humanity.

The writer is a Yemeni journalist, reporting from Yemen, whose identity we are protecting for their security.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.