President Joe Biden has announced an end to U.S. “offensive support” for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen.
Since 2015 the U.S. has been supporting Saudi Arabia’s cross-border air campaign targeting the Houthis who now control vast swathes of Yemeni territory, including the capital Sanaa.
At the time the U.S. said assistance to Saudi Arabia’s “command and control” was supposed to minimise civilian casualties in the Saudi-led airstrikes. But bombing since then has killed numerous Yemeni civilians, including schoolboys on a bus and fishermen in their boats. Survivors have displayed fragments showing the bombs to be American-made.
And the U.S. now says the Saudi-led campaign has entrenched Iran’s role in the conflict on the side of the Houthis.
Meanwhile, the administration is moving to revoke the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group, citing the need to mitigate one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
President Trump’s administration had branded the Iranian-backed Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation – a move that limited the provision of aid to the beleaguered Yemeni people who have suffered under a yearslong civil war and famine.
A senior State Department official said the removal changed nothing about the Biden administration’s views of the Houthis, who they say have targeted civilians and kidnapped Americans.
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“Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organisations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the official said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, welcomed President Biden’s announcement.
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “CAIR welcomes President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s disastrous military campaign in Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s military campaign – supported by the UAE – has long been plagued with war crimes committed by those two countries, resulting in the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, leaving Yemen impoverished and facing a humanitarian disaster.
“The Biden-Harris administration should take the next logical step and cancel the corrupt and dangerous sale of advanced U.S. fighter jets to the UAE, as approved by the prior administration. Our government should not be in the business of providing military support or selling billions in advanced weaponry to any country that violates human rights.”