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The Role Of The U.S. In Yemen

Aug 22, 2018

With Meghna Chakrabarti

After a reportedly American-made bomb killed dozens of children in Yemen, we’ll take a hard look at U.S. interests, actions and responsibilities in Yemen.

Guests

Jane Ferguson, recently snuck into northern Yemen to report on the conflict and humanitarian crisis for PBS NewHour, where she is a special correspondent. She’s also a contributor to The New Yorker on issues related to the Middle East. (@JaneFerguson5)

Kristine Beckerle, Yemen and United Arab Emirates researcher for Human Rights Watch. (@K_Beckerle)

Ambassador Gerald Feierstein, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, 2010-2013. Director for government relations, policy and programs, Middle East Institute. (@j_feierstein)

From The Reading List

PBS NewsHour: “How we got the images you weren’t meant to see in Yemen” — “As I arrived in Sana’a city late at night on June 6, the few working street lights cast a glow over the closed doors of shops, trash on the streets, and the earthen color of the buildings. All so familiar. Driving past the enormous Saleh Mosque — a major landmark in the capital — the sign now read ‘the people’s mosque’ in Arabic. Yemen’s former, long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, had turned against the Houthi rebels occupying this city in December and paid with his life. All visible reminders of him have been removed.

“It had been three years since I was last in Yemen, my longest absence in the 10 years I’ve been coming to this remarkable country. Visas had arrived and expired several times as journalists were banned from flights into Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition controls the air space, and the passengers allowed on the United Nations flights in and out of the capital. The roads from the south of the country, which it also controls, are peppered with military checkpoints blocking reporters from Houthi-rebel held areas. Yemenis travelling between both sides of this conflict are quizzed about who they are and why they are travelling.”

The Hill: “Only the US can reach a peaceful political settlement in Yemen” — “Headlines from Yemen splash death tolls from airstrikes, warnings of a man-made widespread famine, and the collapse of a country caught up in the Iranian-Saudi Arabian regional war. Updates are interspersed: U.S. airstrikes target al Qaeda in Yemen, the Saudi-led blockade is partially lifted for humanitarian reasons, or worsening statistics reduce the suffering of Yemenis to numbers.

“Yemen is so complex that addressing its problems seems impossible. It’s easy to decide that the world should just write it off and perhaps throw some humanitarian assistance its way to salve our consciences. Yet such a decision would also write off key U.S. interests: defeating al Qaeda, rolling back Iran, securing a critical maritime (and commercial) choke point, and preventing Yemen from destabilizing the region.”

New Yorker: “Is Intentional Starvation the Future of War?” — “The malnutrition ward of the Al-Sabaeen hospital, in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, is a quiet place even when it is busy. Parents speak in murmurs and children are too weak to cry. In a room off a pink-painted hallway, a mother named Salami Ahmed sat cross-legged on a bed, resting her ten-month-old daughter Mateea on her knee. Each of the baby girl’s ribs pushed out from underneath a fine layer of skin. The child’s eyes stared wide from her gaunt face. Ahmed told me that her husband was a cobbler, and business was bad. ‘Some days he comes home with four hundred rials, another day five hundred or a thousand rials,’ she said, amounts of local currency worth one and a half to four dollars. ‘Some days nothing if he has no work. We only buy sugar and tea. Before the war, we could buy other things but now no more. We were already poor and when the war broke out we became even poorer.’

“In the room down the hallway, Mohammed Hatem stood over his baby, Shahab Adil, who is also ten months old. Shahab also suffered from malnutrition. Her body appeared much too small for her age. ‘It’s happening everywhere in Yemen,’ Hatem told me. ‘Food prices were already high before the war, and since it started they went sky high.’ Back in his village, several hours’ drive away, there were many more cases of malnutrition, he said. Few villagers can afford to take a taxi to the capital for treatment. For many, the cost of fuel puts even short bus rides beyond reach.

“The U.S.- and Saudi-backed war here has increased the price of food, cooking gas, and other fuel, but it is the disappearance of millions of jobs that has brought more than eight million people to the brink of starvation and turned Yemen into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. There is sufficient food arriving in ports here, but endemic unemployment means that almost two-thirds of the population struggle to buy the food their families need. In this way, hunger here is entirely man-made: no drought or blight has caused it.”

Two men associated with President Trump, both now felons. Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are facing jail time. What impact will that have on the president, the Mueller investigation and the midterms? Also, taking a hard look at Yemen. The Yemeni civil war may be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now. A reportedly American-made bomb killed 40 children this month. More than 22 million people are in need of aid. A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition is bombing infrastructure to dust. It’s seen as a proxy war against Iran.

This hour, On Point: America’s role and responsibilities in Yemen.

— Meghna Chakrabarti

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.