Yemeni Civil War

Martin Cowen for Congress

A war is raging in the Middle East of which most Americans are unaware. The war is co-sponsored by America with Saudi Arabia taking point in the killing. Yemen is the theater of this war. According to a story by the Associated Press in November 2017, over 50,000 Yemeni children died of starvation or disease in 2017 as a result of this war, to say nothing of those blown up in airstrikes. Martin Cowen, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, GA District 13, opposes America’s undeclared war in Yemen (and all undeclared wars on principle).

Here is Yemen’s story.

Most Americans have never heard of Yemen. Most Americans do not know where Yemen is. Yemen is on the Arabian Peninsula south of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman. Yemen is bounded in the west by the Red Sea and on the south by the Gulf of Aden. There is a 20-mile-wide strait on the southwest corner of Yemen separating Yemen from Africa. The nearby African countries include Somalia and Ethiopia.

Some older Americans might remember the U.S.S. Cole incident in which the American ship was suicide bombed while dockside in the Port of Aden, Yemen, on October 12, 2000, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39 others.

The Cole Incident provides insight into why Yemen is strategically important. The west coast and the south coast of Yemen are bounded respectively by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The north end of the Red Sea is the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal providing shipping access between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. All shipping must pass by Yemen’s west coast at the southern end of the Red Sea and pass through the Bab el Mandeb, the Gate of Tears, which is the 20-mile-wide strait at the southern end of the Red Sea. Also, at the north end of the Red Sea is the Gulf of Aqaba that borders Israel at the port of Eilat. The Gulf of Aqaba is also a border of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba is the Sinai Peninsula, captured by Israel during the Six-Day War, June 5-10, 1967, and returned to Egypt by 1982 following the Camp David Accords in 1978.

Yemen has always been an important trade route between Africa and the rest of the world.

Yemen is number 171 (very poor) on the 2017 CIA list (of 198 countries from wealthiest to poorest) of the poorest countries in the world. Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia (Yemen’s northern neighbor) is, by contrast, 14 on the list (i.e. very rich) and Oman (Yemen’s eastern border) is 27. Qatar, another Middle Eastern country is 2, the next to the wealthiest country.

Yemen is poor because it does not have a tradition of property rights and the rule of law. The Yemeni regimes have been referred to as kleptocracies. The area is one of the oldest civilizations because of its strategic importance for trade. Many groups have battled for dominance over the centuries. The Queen of Sheba, of Biblical fame, who visited King Solomon (970-931 BCE), once ruled Yemen. (See 1 Kings 10:2).

Let us skip forward three millennia of warring to the near present.

In late 2014 to early 2015, a rebel group called the Houthis captured the capital of Yemen, Sana’a. President Hadi escaped to his home town of Aden on February 21, 2015. On March 19, 2015, major fighting broke out in Aden. With Houthis moving in on Aden on March 25, President Hadi left Yemen and escaped to the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, on March 26, 2015.

Saudi Arabia began launching airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, 2018. America is providing aircraft refueling, intelligence and logistical support.

The extent of America’s involvement is difficult to determine because America wants no attention paid to this killing. The New York Times reported on May 3, 2018, in a piece entitled “Army Special Forces Secretly Help Saudis Combat Threat From Yemen Rebels”, that in 2017, the United States launched more than 130 airstrikes in Yemen, compared with 38 in 2016. The 2015 “Rice Memo” (named after National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice) declared that United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Egypt support the Saudis in their war in Yemen.

The extent of the dead in the Yemeni War is likewise difficult to determine. An Associated Press story dated November 16, 2017, reports that 50,000 Yemeni children died of starvation and disease in 2017. The story goes on to report that 10,000 people have been killed and 3 million displaced. Quoting from the story: “The U.N. officials said more than 20 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of urgent assistance, with 7 million totally dependent on food assistance. The U.N. has called it the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world.’”

The rationales for the war (not true in my estimate) include these: (1) a part of the War on Terror; (2) a proxy war between Israel/US and Iran; and (3) a religious war between Sunnis (Saudi Arabia) and Shias (Iran). The reason for the war (true in my estimate) is the strategic importance of Yemen, including the Port of Aden, for world commerce. A lot of shipping transits the strait every day. If the Suez Canal is a measure, about 50 ships per day transit the Red Sea and the Bab el Mandeb.

In my opinion, in the absence of a Declaration of War by Congress pursuant to Article I, Section 8, America ought not to be killing 50,000 children per year in Yemen, even if the killing is by proxy. Were Martin Cowen in Congress, Martin Cowen would not declare war on Yemen.

Please note the important fact that your present Congressman has not shared this information with you.