US Debating Whether To Expand Military Presence In Yemen

US Debating Whether To Expand Military Presence In Yemen

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As if the US hasn’t already done enough to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis raging in Yemen, the Wall Street Journal  reported Monday that the Trump Administration is considering a request by the United Arab Emirates for “direct US support” as a coalition of Sunni majority nations prepares to seize the country’s biggest port, known as Hodeidah.

According to WSJ, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has requested an evaluation of the Sunni coalition’s plan to retake control of the port. And with good reason: That’s because some 90% of the imported goods including foodstuffs, medicine and other vital supplies flow into Yemen through the port. Already, the country is under an extreme humanitarian crisis, and cutting off the flow of supplies through the port could make it infinitely worse.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked for a quick assessment of the UAE’s plea for assistance such as surveillance drone flights to help a Saudi-led coalition retake Hodeidah, which currently serves as a vital lifeline for the country’s 29 million residents, U.S. officials said.

U.A.E. and Saudi Arabian officials have assured the U.S. that they won’t try to seize the Red Sea port until they get backing from Washington, American officials said. But there is growing concern in the Trump administration that fighting around the city could spiral out of control and force Washington’s hand. Yemeni fighters backed by the coalition are battling Houthis near the city.

“We continue to have a lot of concerns about a Hodeidah operation,” said one senior U.S. official. “We are not 100% comfortable that, even if the coalition did launch an attack, that they would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.”

Of course, the “catastrophic incident” that WSJ is referring to the possibility that a strike against the port would instigate a brutal, armed response as the two sides struggle to maintain access to the outside world. And while US officials have continued to hem and haw about the fighting…there’s been some debate over which groups on the agree to

U.A.E. and Saudi Arabian officials have assured the U.S. that they won’t try to seize the Red Sea port until they get backing from Washington, American officials said. But there is growing concern in the Trump administration that fighting around the city could spiral out of control and force Washington’s hand. Yemeni fighters backed by the coalition are battling Houthis near the city.

“We continue to have a lot of concerns about a Hodeidah operation,” said one senior U.S. official. “We are not 100% comfortable that, even if the coalition did launch an attack, that they would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.”

Still, the debate over increasing US military support to the UAE and KSA and Saudi Arabia is competing for the attention of top administration officials working furiously to prepare for the planned summit with North Korea in Singapore on June 12. But escalating military operations around the Yemeni port have triggered new urgency in Washington.

But even without direct action, US surveillance drone flights have helped the Saudi-led coalition in its battle to retake Hodeidah, which currently serves as a vital lifeline for the country’s 29 million residents,.

Indeed, as RT points out, the stakes are high. If the port is destroyed or damaged beyond operability, hundreds of thousands of people could die.

But regardless of whether the US explicitly condones the battle. Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be able to provide so much support for its Sunni allies in Yemen without the support of the US. Under President Obama, the US sold some $115 billion in arms to KSA until he put his foot down following the bombing of a funeral procession.


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