Pompeo worsens war on Yemen’s masses

January 31, 2021

From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters

“Yemenis aren’t falling into starvation. They are being pushed into the abyss by men with guns and power.”

—A former top UN humanitarian relief official

In huge swaths of Yemen—particularly in areas controlled by Houthi rebels—famine and mass starvation are rampant. Of Yemen’s nearly 30 million people, more than two-thirds are in food scarcity, with millions on the brink of actually perishing from starvation.


A military coalition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in seeking to defeat the Iran-backed Houthis who control much of the North of Yemen, has waged a bombing campaign to destroy Yemen’s infrastructure and ruin its economy. After six years of war on the people of Yemen, the country is now the scene of one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world.

The Saudi coalition airstrikes—thousands of them—often target hospitals and schools. The bombing has forced farmers off their land. Fields have been abandoned and food production has been decimated. The Houthis have frequently blocked food shipments and other aid from reaching areas they control. 

To add to this tragedy, U.S. President Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s parting shot before leaving office was to declare the Houthis a terrorist organization, thus creating draconian difficulties for food aid to reach famine-suffering masses. David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the UN which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, said such a terrorist designation amounted to “a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people in Yemen.”


For three-plus years the Trump administration supplied the Saudi coalition with the military weapons to carry on its war crimes against Yemen. Besides enabling Saudi’s proxy war against Iran, it meant “America First” support for the arms industry. Raytheon Corporation has sold arms worth some $5 billion to the Saudi-led coalition in the last five years. Nor should it be forgotten that arms sales to the Saudis for this campaign began under the Obama administration.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Does this now mean that millions of its people are under a death sentence? And how many countries and groups bear responsibility?

—Eugene Walker

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