The Saudi campaign to seduce Trump has worked by escalating US military involvement without any political settlement hes prolonging Yemens war
Donald Trump is quietly escalating Americas role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, disregarding the huge humanitarian toll and voices in Congress that are trying to rein in the Pentagons involvement. Trump administration officials are considering a request from Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates, for direct US military help to retake Yemens main port from Houthi rebels. The Hodeidah port is a major conduit for humanitarian aid in Yemen, and a prolonged battle could be catastrophic for millions of civilians who depend on already limited aid.
With little public attention or debate, the president has already expanded US military assistance to his Saudi and UAE allies in ways that are prolonging the Yemen war and increasing civilian suffering. Soon after Trump took office in early 2017, his administration reversed a decision by former president Barack Obama to suspend the sale of over $500m in laser-guided bombs and other munitions to the Saudi military, over concerns about civilian deaths in Yemen. The US Senate narrowly approved that sale, in a vote of 53 to 47, almost handing Trump an embarrassing defeat.
In late 2017, after the Houthis fired ballistic missiles at several Saudi cities, the Pentagon secretly sent US special forces to the Saudi-Yemen border, to help the Saudi military locate and destroy Houthi missile sites. While US troops did not cross into Yemen to directly fight Yemens rebels, the clandestine mission escalated US participation in a war that has dragged on since Saudi Arabia and its allies began bombing the Houthis in March 2015.
The war has killed at least 10,000 Yemenis and left more than 22 million people three-quarters of Yemens population in need of humanitarian aid. At least 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and 1 million are infected with cholera.
The increased US military support for Saudi actions in Yemen is part of a larger policy shift by Trump and his top advisers since he took office, in which Trump voices constant support for Saudi Arabia and perpetual criticism of its regional rival, Iran. The transformation was solidified during Trumps visit to the kingdom in May 2017, which he chose as the first stop on his maiden foreign trip as president. Saudi leaders gave Trump a grandiose welcome: they filled the streets of Riyadh with billboards of Trump and the Saudi King Salman; organized extravagant receptions and sword dances; and awarded Trump the kingdoms highest honor, a gold medallion named after the founding monarch.
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