'I'm afraid Trump may continue Obama legacy of supporting Saudi war against Yemen'
US House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi lashed out at the Trump administration's handling of the conflict in Yemen on CNN, after a Yemeni refugee in one of the programs told the tragic story of her family.
Pelosi said that girl’s family is suffering because the US president “is reckless and his administration is incompetent.”
However, Pelosi failed to acknowledge the Obama administration's own contribution to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen due to arms contracts and other forms of cooperation with Riyadh.
RT: Why did US Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi focus on Trump's travel ban and not the real reasons for the suffering of the girl's family?
Gareth Porter: Well, Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic leader in the House, the minority leader in the House of Representatives. She is going to support the partisan position on this question of policy toward Yemen, which means that she’s going to be unwilling to acknowledge the responsibility of the Obama administration for the war that has afflicted the population of Yemen, and is now a humanitarian catastrophe, as far as I know, the worst in the world, or at least in that part of the Middle East.
It seems to be much more serious than the crisis in Syria in terms of the actual danger to millions of people; in terms of their access to food. Therefore, we have a situation where there is a great deal of famine already or, at least close to famine-like conditions in Yemen, because of the bombing carried out by the US ally, Saudi Arabia.
RT: In December, just a month before Obama left office, his administration decided to limit military support to Saudi Arabia on concern over civilian casualties. What do you make of the timing of that decision?
GP: Well, I think the point about that decision by the Obama administration is that it was far too little, far too late. It was merely a reduction in US support for the war that is direct support by the US personnel taking part in the assistance to the Saudis in Riyadh. It did not end the really crucial aspects of the Obama administration’s assistance to the Saudis and their allies, which was primarily to provide the refueling for the planes that have carried out the air attacks, which have so completely destroyed the society in large parts of Yemen – in more than half of Yemen. This is the crucial issue, which the Obama administration has never been willing to deal with in terms of its complicity with the war crimes of the Saudi government and its allies.
In addition to that, after months of this bombing which Amnesty International regards as filled with war crimes, because of the deliberate targeting of cities that were regarded as supportive of the Houthis, the US then renewed the agreement to provide bombs to the Saudi government for carrying out this war. So it was in effect a sort of public support for the Saudi war. The US still remains completely complicit in this war…
RT: Critics are branding the US approach to Yemen, one of ‘cautious approval,’ on the one hand, keep supplying the Saudis with arms, on the other staying silent on the country’s growing humanitarian catastrophe. What's your take on that approach?
GP: Well, my take is that what is happening here – the Obama administration has been essentially tied to the Saudi interests in Yemen, as they have been in Syria to a great extent of the past by the degree to which the permanent government in the US - the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA – all have very, very close relations with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia. Arrangements which have provided big payoffs to the Pentagon and these other agencies in the form of the ability to sell arms to the Saudis – at least to $200 billion estimated over two decades - to American arms makers, and the contracts with the Saudis to provide intelligence services by the CIA and NSA, which are very lucrative for those agencies.
So these war powers in the US are very unwilling to have any US policy that would criticize, much less take away, support for the Saudi war so that these arrangements can continue. I am very much afraid that the Trump administration will be subject to the same logic, the same political forces that have kept the Obama administration from taking any responsibility for what is going on in Yemen.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.