Why Is Trump Lunching With A Saudi War Criminal While Yemenis Starve?

As Trump and Prince Salman sat for a photo op, Trump smiled, pointed to the Saudi delegation, and said, “They are nice people.” No, Mr. Trump, they aren’t.
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    While President Trump sat down for a sumptuous meal at the White House on Tuesday, March 14 with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, millions of Yemenis are going hungry thanks to Trump’s lunch guest.

    Prince Salman is only 31 years old, but as the king’s favorite son, he was put in charge of the nation’s two most critical sectors: the economy and the military. A brash defense minister, the young prince made the disastrous decision to interfere in an internal conflict in neighboring Yemen. Starting in March 2015, Prince Salman started a bombing campaign against the Yemeni Houthis, a group the Saudi rulers consider aligned with Iran. The bombing has gone on, relentlessly, for the past two years. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said that possible war crimes had been documented with “alarming frequency” since the Saudis became engaged.

    In addition to thousands of Yemeni civilians being killed directly by Saudi bombs, the bombing has also been responsible for the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure, from water facilities to sewage treatment plants to hospitals. Particularly devastating has been the bombing of the port of Hodeidah, where most of the humanitarian aid has been entering the country. Two-thirds of the population now requires food assistance and a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from hunger and the lack of medical facilities. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called Yemen the “largest food insecurity emergency in the world.”

    The Saudis are threatening to make matters significantly worse by launching a major military campaign in the area of Hudaidah that will make the port totally inaccessible.

    It’s not just the Saudis and Houthis who are responsible for Yemen’s destruction. As Senator Chris Murphy said, the United States also has blood on its hands. President Obama sold massive amounts of weapons to the Saudis and helped the Yemen intervention with logistical support, including refueling Saudi planes in the air.

    Towards the end of his tenure, President Obama began having second thoughts due to the mounting civilian death toll, including a strike on a Yemeni funeral in October 2016 that killed more than 100 people. That’s why in December 2016, the Obama administration halted a planned sale of $390 million in precision-guided munitions from Raytheon to the Saudi government.

    President Trump is considering moving forward with this sale. Human rights groups worry that the sale could allow the Saudis to modify thousands of air-to-ground munitions that could be used in strikes against civilians. In a letter to Trump released the same day as the luncheon, Amnesty International urged Trump not to sign off on the sale. “There is substantial risk that Saudi Arabia…could use new U.S. arms to further devastate civilian lives in Yemen,” Amnesty wrote. “This could implicate your administration in war crimes or violations of international humanitarian law. Amnesty International researchers have already found both unexploded US bombs and identifiable fragments of exploded US bombs among the ruins of Yemeni homes and other civilian objects.”

    Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly approved the resumption of the sale, but it needs White House approval before it moves forward. “If approved, this deal would essentially have President Trump throwing gasoline on a house fire and locking the door on his way out,” said Amnesty’s US Executive Director Margaret Huang. “President Trump must not approve this arms deal.”

    The Trump administration has signaled a desire to step up the fight against the Houthis in Yemen as part of its plan to get tough on Iran. It cited Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels when putting Iran “on notice” in February. The Saudi leaders are enthusiastic about Trump’s hawkish position on Iran. They also appreciate his support of the oil industry (proven by naming the CEO of Exxon as Secretary of State) and his lack of interest in human rights. And they are delighted that unlike Yemen, Saudi Arabia was not included in Trump’s Muslim travel ban, despite the fact that more Saudis have killed Americans on US soil than any other foreign nationals (remember: 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia).

    It seems that the admiration is mutual. As Trump and Prince Salman sat for a photo op after lunch, Trump smiled, pointed to the Saudi delegation, and said, “They are nice people.” No, Mr. Trump, they aren’t. They behead people for peaceful dissent at home. They export the extreme Wahhabist ideology that fuels terrorist groups. And they are committing war crimes in Yemen. The United States should not be selling them any weapons or helping in their reckless military adventure that has left so many Yemenis dead, displaced and starving.

    Medea Benjamin is the founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange and the author of nine books, including the recently released Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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    • tapatio
    • Saudi Arabia though is finding itself surrounding by proxy wars initiated by Iran. It has a tiny population and virtually no defensible natural barriers. It has to rely heavily on the U.S. for logistics, air power and armaments. It’s principle economic asset can be easily disrupted if not outright destroyed with a few well placed missiles, let alone blocking the single transshipment point through the Straits of Hormuz.. Iran is using the Houthis as proxies, just as they do with Hezbollah and Shiite militias,

    • World Peace Now

      The destruction of Yemen will provide an alternative oil supply route to the Strait of Hormuz. Then the Zionist controlled West will finally have their war with Iran. Trump is obeying his masters.

      • bootin buddin

        a war with iran is right up our alley. i’ll give you 3 guesses on who will win. the first 2 don’t count. iran shivering in their boots about that prospect. a weak kneed country if i ever saw one.

        • allan Massey

          WOW you do not know the people of Iran

          • bootin buddin

            well, since the war will be in iran and we have 1000x the firepower that they have, they may be united and fortified and will fight to the death but the outcome will not end up in their favor. we’ll knock out their paltry 3 or 4 power grids first and then their whopping 6 major urban population centers will surrender or get pulverized. our war with grenada was more challenging than this would be.

            • World Peace Now

              When we include the Russian factor, then it’s near certain that the centers of all human suffering; Washington DC, Wall Street, London and Tel Aviv are on the target list and shall be wiped from the map.
              As you surely know from history, the Russians have a score to settle with the Zionists.

            • tapatio

              You really should go back to your roller derby shows and the Ku Klukker meetings you should be attending. The subjects here are far, far above your limited intellect.

              • bootin buddin

                you’ve trotted out the roller derby thing 3 times and ku klukker at least twice. get some new material. we may have supported a terrorist group or two in order to get assad. maybe it backfired. you can’t trust sand monkeys to do it right. we should just sic israel on iran. they are itching to.

          • tapatio

            This “bootin buddin” seems to be an AmericanWhiteTrash version of hasbarat. I’ve had a few clashes with him and he simply vomits up Trumpisms and Breitbart drivel.