THE BLOG
08/17/2015 05:10 pm ET Updated Aug 17, 2016

Yemen: A Tale of Western Hypocrisy With Dire Consequences

Update: Reuters has just reported that the Saudi coalition forces (which receive intelligence for airstrikes from the U.S.) have bombed a civilian port which is the "focal point of efforts" to provide desperately-needed aid to Yemen. A spokesman for Save the Children has called this "the final straw" for Yemini civilians, and especially women and children.
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On July 30, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, famous for decrying genocide as the greatest scourge of humanity, feigned concern over the desperate plight of millions in Yemen who currently risk starvation due to the Saudi-led air strikes and siege upon that country. Thus, Power (@AmbassadorPower) sent out the following tweet:

7/30/15, 8:15 AM
.@UNReliefChief described the critical situation in #Yemen: Of a population of 26m, 21m are in need of aid bit.ly/1Mu1wDm

This message by Ambassador Power is quite revealing in that she goes out of her way to avoid naming who is responsible for the need in which the millions of Yemenis find themselves. Specifically, she fails to name the U.S. itself, though she knows quite well that it is a critical cause of the famine haunting Yemen, and while she is generally not shy to name other countries for causing such humanitarian crises. Instead, she leads the reader to imagine that millions of Yemenis are "in need" due to an Act of God or natural disaster. But this is far from the truth.

As the LA Times reported today, the

Saudi-led military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen has scored major gains this month . . . after the Pentagon more than doubled the number of American advisors to provide enhanced intelligence for airstrikes.

The role of about 45 U.S. advisors, up from 20, at joint military operations centers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has been vastly overshadowed by the far larger U.S.-led air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. So has Yemen's toll of civilian casualties and refugees.

The LA Times further relates that:

The Obama administration is providing intelligence, munitions and midair refueling to coalition aircraft, and U.S. warships have helped enforce a blockade in the Gulf of Aden and southern Arabian Sea intended to prevent weapons shipments from Iran to the Houthis. . . .

Human rights groups say the sea cordon also cuts Yemen off from imports of basic commodities, including food and fuel, adding to the nation's miseries.

Indeed, the Saudi-led war against Yemen for which the U.S. is providing critical support cannot be understated. Thus, as Reuters just reported:

"The humanitarian situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Every family in Yemen has been affected by this conflict," [International Committee of the Red Cross President] Maurer said in a statement.

Some 4,345 people have been killed and 22,110 injured since March 19, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, citing figures from Yemeni health care facilities.

Moreover, the airstrikes and blockade the U.S. is assisting with may actually constitute war crimes, in that they appear to be a means of intentionally starving out the Yemeni population. Again, Reuters relates that

Hilal Elver, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, said 12.9 million people in Yemen lacked basic food supplies and 850,000 children faced acute malnutrition.

Sieges in a number of governorates, including Aden, Al Dhali, Lahj and Taiz, have been preventing staple food items, such as wheat, from reaching the civilian population, while air strikes have reportedly targeted local markets and trucks laden with food items," Elver said in a statement.

She said the "deliberate starvation of civilians" caught in armed conflict might constitute a war crime.

If it were not bad enough that the U.S. is aiding and abetting the Saudis in destroying Yemen's ability to feed its people, the U.S. has also discontinued all development assistance to Yemen, further exacerbating the crisis. As Julian Pecquet explained in AI-Monitor, this "decision has dismayed some US-funded aid organizations. They say their assistance to the Arab world's poorest country is needed now more than ever as the Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Houthi rebellion" continues.

In short, the U.S. is contributing to the deaths of quite possibly millions of civilians in Yemen, including nearly a million children. And yet, one barely hears a peep from the mainstream media over this. And meanwhile, you have the curious figure of Samantha Power -- for me, the symbol of the U.S.'s moral hypocrisy -- who claims to be a warrior for human rights, at least when U.S. enemies are allegedly violating them, but who remains silent in the face of the U.S.'s role in gross human rights abuses.

As a human rights lawyer and instructor, I am deeply concerned about how human rights is increasingly being used by the West, and especially by the U.S., as a bludgeon to justify armed intervention against other nations (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine) while these interventions generally result in a worse humanitarian situation than existed prior to the intervention, and while the human rights violations of countries like the U.S. are generally ignored if not outright tolerated. Yemen is a quintessential example of such a destructive "human rights" doctrine, and Samantha Power is the quintessential apologist and enabler of it.