By Quentin Choy
March 22, 2021
The Saudi government has proposed a cease-fire to the Houthi rebels in Yemen amid Yemeni Civil War which began back in 2014. The proposal would allow a reopening of the Sana’a International Airport which according to The Hill, has not seen regular commercial flights since 2015. The civil war is currently the largest humanitarian crisis due to blockades and famines in the region.
The Houthis, who are backed by Iran are fighting in Yemen, and the war is sometimes viewed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran has been demonized by the United States since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution. Iran was one of the three countries that comprised Bush’s “Axis of Evil” along with North Korea and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally, although they do not share the values for which the U.S. advocates. With a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam known as Wahabiism being spread across the world by Saudi Arabia, a limitation of women’s rights and political rights, and following the brutal murder of U.S. citizen Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudis have shown themselves to be an unworthy ally of a democratic society such as the United States.
While Iran is by no means a bastion of liberalism and political freedom, the same standard we use toward Iran should be used for Saudi Arabia if the U.S. is to truly believe in democratic ideals.
In 2019, Congress passed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. military assistance in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen with a 247-175 vote in the House and a 54-46 vote in the Senate. Former President Trump vetoed the bill, continuing American assistance in the war. This veto was in my opinion one of the worst decisions of his presidency.
The Biden administration has begun to stiffen U.S. relations with the Saudis in the halting of support for Saudi bombings in Yemen. The Biden administration also released the records of Khashoggi’s killing, connecting the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to the murder. Unfortunately, the U.S. refused to hold MBS accountable for the murder and bombed Iranian-backed rebels in Syria as Biden’s first military action.
While I am in no way advocating war with the Saudis, I believe that some sort of implications should be directed their way. Sanctions have been applied to high-ranking Saudi officials, but how will future killings by the Saudis, especially of a United States citizen be prevented? If the U.S. government will not protect U.S. citizens, who will?
I hope that the Saudis and the Houthis can come to some sort of diplomatic resolution to the Yemeni Civil War and that the U.S. will reconsider their unconditional alliance with the Saudis.
Image Courtesy of AP News.