Historically, the United States has refused to call a spade a spade when it comes to its oil-rich ally Saudi Arabia; and it seems likely that this trend will continue, given recent developments.
Namely, the conflict in Yemen. It is undoubtedly a difficult situation, and it seems that there can be no winner, nor is there any clear solution. Martin Reardon writes:
It would be an understatement to say that the internal power politics at play in Yemen are among the oldest, most complex and most dynamic in the Middle East.
However, a clear way to mitigate the conflict, to the extent possible, is to stop participating in it: which means to stop making it worse. This criticism can and should be applied to Iran as well, although it is important to remember that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions, and our actions include the implicit backing of Saudi airstrikes in the already disaster-stricken region.
Iran has called for a ceasefire in Yemen, but this call was rejected by Saudi Arabia.
Whether or not the call was genuine we cannot know, now that it has been dismissed. Further, the Saudi ambassador announced that “Saudi-led airstrikes will continue…until rebel Houthi militants disarm and agree to restore exiled [Saudi-backed] President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi,” LA Times reports.
The airstrikes have been devastating, and they have been labeled “reckless” by human rights workers. Perhaps a slight understatement.
Human Rights Watch reports that on March 30, a “Saudi-Led, US-Backed Attack Killed at Least 29 Civilians.”
The airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that hit a displaced persons’ camp in northern Yemen on March 30, 2015, raised grave concerns about violations of the laws of war. The airstrikes killed at least 29 civilians and wounded 41, including 14 children and 11 women. They hit a medical facility at the camp, a local market, and a bridge, according to initial reports from the World Health Organization.
And the US deserves a share of the blame:
The United States, by providing intelligence to the Saudi-led air campaign, shares the obligation to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property in the fighting.
The report continues, calling for all involved to “impartially” conduct an investigation into “whether there were violations of the laws of war and take appropriate action.”
This is, of course, unthinkable. Now, if Iran or some official enemy had been leading the airstrikes, the tables would quickly turn. But, per usual, the US and its allies conduct acts of war, wantonly killing civilians, with complete impunity.
The New York Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has, unlike the US, decided to call a spade a spade when it comes to Saudi Arabia and their “reckless” airstrikes, much to the dismay of Washington and the Saudi government.
Here is the Prime Minister:
There is no logic to the operation at all in the first place. Mainly, the problem of Yemen is within Yemen…They [the US government] want to stop this conflict as soon as possible. What I understand from the administration, the Saudis are not helpful on this. They don’t want a cease-fire now.
Loyally, “The administration swiftly denied that President Obama had expressed concern about the Saudi air campaign during a meeting with Mr. Abadi on Tuesday at the White House.”
Saudi Arabia insists that its airstrikes are productive, and, predictably, they claim that they are not targeting civilians. What reality shows us is quite different, but that is irrelevant. Our ally says they are not targeting civilians, so they must be telling the truth. But when an official enemy makes this claim, we immediately denounce the self-righteous claim as nonsensical.
Washington is displaying pure cowardice in these affairs, sacrificing innocent lives to maintain serene and cheery relations with a faithful ally, regardless of their internal repression and external aggression.
Conservatively, Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch said,
The US needs to make sure that the coalition it is supporting is taking the necessary precautions to avoid civilian loss of life and property.
Not only is the US not “making sure” that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians and worsening the brutal conflict, it is directly and shamelessly participating, both by providing useful intelligence and ideological support.
This situation reveals a deeply embedded truism within the US government and its foreign policy: Scream relentlessly about the crimes of official enemies, and faithfully downplay or dismiss the crimes of allies, even when the latter are far worse.