Yemen: US weighs stronger support for Saudi war

April 24, 2017
Children outside a school hit by a Saudi airstrike. Ta'izz, March 16, 2017.

The US is looking to increase support for the Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen, officials said on April 19 — a move some see as another signal that President Donald Trump is itching to take the US to a new war.

Among the options for support are boosting intelligence-sharing and logistical efforts. Officials say increased military pressure on the Houthi rebels is needed to push them into negotiating an end to the conflict — but the rebel group has shown no interest in peace talks since a previous attempt failed last summer.

The US said it would not put boots on the ground, but officials said the support would make clear the administration’s hard-line stance on Iran.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia this week, US Defence Secretary James Mattis accused Iran of being a troublemaker, saying the country was destabilising the region by supplying the Houthis with weapons.

“Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis said on April 19 after meetings with King Salman and other top Saudi officials. “So right now what we’re seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption and instability they can cause.”

The US would “reinforce Saudi Arabia’s resistance to Iran’s mischief,” he continued, adding that “we are not leaving this region”.

The news comes amid tense relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. One of the Obama administration’s parting moves was to halt planned armed sales to the Gulf kingdom over civilian casualties caused by its bombing campaign in Yemen. The Trump administration immediately looked to undo the move.

Since the Saudi-led war began in 2015, about 10,000 people have been killed, including 4000 civilians, according to the United Nations. About 3 million Yemenis have been displaced.

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]

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