President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
“This is ridiculous. There is no indication that the coalition has been really trying to improve things. Citizens continue to be taking the brunt of the attacks, civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, continue to be hit,” United Nations Director of Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, told NBC News of the U.S. certification.
No one who has been following the war on Yemen closely accepts what the Trump administration is saying. Sen. Warren and Reps. Pocan and Khanna have all stated bluntly that the administration is making a mockery of the requirements contained in the legislation that Congress just passed. Sen. Murphy denounced Pompeo’s certification as a “farce.” Sen. Sanders condemned the decision as outrageous and once again called for halting all support for the war.
Secretary Mattis predictably endorsed Pompeo’s decision, and in so doing he completely discredited his own claim that U.S. support wasn’t unconditional. That claim was extremely difficult to take seriously when he made it, and it is impossible to take seriously now. If the Trump administration is going to certify that the Saudis and Emiratis are meeting certain conditions even when they clearly aren’t, there are no conditions on U.S. support and there never will be without Congressional intervention. Reflexive, uncritical backing of any government is never advisable, and to offer that kind of backing to despotic regimes guilty of countless war crimes is both profoundly wrong and reckless. Unconditional support for an atrocious war not only implicates the U.S. in the many crimes of our clients, but it also ensures that our government fails to use the considerable leverage that it has with these governments to rein them in and end the war.
The biggest lie that Secretary Pompeo told in his memo was when he claimed that “ending the conflict in Yemen is a national security priority” for this administration. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the administration had been the least bit interested in ending the conflict, it would not have fought so desperately to block every measure that would have put pressure on the Saudi coalition to stop its campaign. If ending the conflict were a priority, it would not be covering for Saudi coalition war crimes and backing their war effort to the hilt. On the contrary, everything that the administration has done since Trump became president has contributed to the escalation of the conflict with an attendant rise in civilian casualties. Trump and his officials have demonstrated beyond any doubt that their priority is in giving the Saudis and Emiratis virtually everything they want while asking for nothing in return.