It looks like the United States government is ready to move on from the internal squabble that erupted over an $8.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other client Arab states embroiled in the war on Yemen and continue the policy of arming and funding the Saudi-led coalition of anti-Houthi forces propping up the “internationally-recognized” government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
In a final report issued by the U.S. State Department’s Inspector General on the investigation into the arms deal that Congress requested in May of last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was cleared of any wrongdoing for executing the multi-billion-dollar transaction, which according to the same unreleased report, “heightened the risk of civilian casualties” in a war that has claimed the lives of close to a quarter-million people, nearly half of them civilians.
Pompeo, who yesterday kicked off a five-day tour of Central Europe in the Czech Republic, washed his hands of the whole matter during a press conference in Prague. “We did everything by the book,” Pompeo told reporters and boasted about the “really good outcome” he claims resulted from flooding the war-torn country with more bombs before directly contradicting the Inspector General’s findings by asserting that the weapons deal had, in fact, “prevented the loss of lives.”
The arms deal, which Trump forced via executive privilege, has been at the center of the speculation over the recent firing of Inspector General Steve Linick, who had been conducting the inquiry into the arms sale in addition to other, direct allegations of abuse of power and corruption against Pompeo and his wife. With Linick gone and the IG’s final report admitting the obvious, yet failing to hold officials accountable, the State Department resumes destabilization efforts in the region by selling more war materiel to fuel the conflict in Yemen despite evidence that the guns and ammo aren’t going to the parties stipulated in the contract.
Lip service to peace
The war in Yemen began in the middle of Barack Obama’s second term in office as the administration was in the midst of negotiating the Iran nuclear deal. The price of getting the Saudis to “begrudgingly” go along with the Iran deal was to have the gulf state coalition’s back against the Yemeni insurgents, who had toppled the puppet regime of their country.
Since then, Obama-era aides and appointees like Middle East “point man,” Robert Malley, have lobbed some after-the-fact mea culpas and generally decried the escalating tensions in Yemen. But, like the Inspector General’s report, they are rhetorical tools designed for the extension of political careers and of little use to the suffering hordes of Yemenis who continue to be the victims of war crimes and are undergoing one of the worst refugee crises in history, with 3.6 million internally displaced and hundreds of thousands abroad.
The plight of the regular Yemeni citizen is captured in the sentiments of Labib Nasher, who was granted political asylum in the U.S. back in February. “It’s a horrible thing,” Nasher said of his situation. “You’re not a human being anymore,” he reflected, “Nobody wants you.” He, of course, is one of the lucky ones who had the means to escape. But for a large majority of people in Yemen, the U.S.-backed war has led to the verge of starvation.
The impasse between the Saudi-led coalition and their uncomfortable allies in Yemen – the Southern Transitional Council (STC) – appears to have been smoothed out as well. The pivotal separatist group “rescinded” a declaration of self-rule and allowed for some of the terms of the stalled “Riyadh agreement” to be implemented, such as the appointment of a new governor and police chief in the disputed territory of Aden.
Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman was pleased by the development, tweeting out that the move by the STC “reflects the serious desire for dialogue”; while the UAE also called for a renewed purpose among coalition members. On Monday, the internationally-recognized government of Yemen practically channeled Pompeo by demanding that the UN extend the arms embargo against Iran.
The news, no doubt, will also buoy the mood in the boardrooms of General Dynamics, Boeing, and Raytheon who all have profited to the tune of hundreds of millions from the war and have seen their stock soar since the start of the conflict. “Most of the weapons that we have found and been able to identify in strikes that appear unlawful have been U.S. weapons,” said Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher, Priyanka Motaparthy. “Factories have been hit. Farmlands have been hit with cluster bombs. Not only have they killed civilians, but they have also destroyed livelihoods and contributed to a dire humanitarian situation.”
Despite the ‘positive’ signals for the interests of America and its partners in the region, signs are emerging that the dire humanitarian situation is beginning to trickle up. Just this morning, the Middle East Monitor reported that Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi will be traveling to the U.S. for a week-long medical treatment. Yesterday, the director of Yemeni PM Maeen Abdul Malik’s office, was arrested in Egypt, the country that brokered the rapprochement between the STC and the coalition. The high-ranking Yemeni official was trying to smuggle $1 million dollars through the diplomatic cover.
Feature photo | US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to board a plane at the King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital Riyadh, before his departure on Feb. 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | Pool via AP
Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.