The Pentagon has issued a statement Thursday denying any direct involvement in the Saudi-led attack on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. The port is the source of food for 8.4 million Yemenis, and the attack threatens to start a major famine across northern Yemen.
According to the statement, they say the US is not commanding, accompanying, or participating in any anti-Houthi operations in Hodeidah. The specificity is important, because officials had previously affirmed US involvement in the attack.
On Tuesday, Pentagon officials confirmed they were going to provide growing military intelligence, and targeting lists for the city. They defended this by claiming it would reduce civilian casualties over just leaving the Saudis and UAE to their own devices.
The claim that the Pentagon isn’t involvement, however, is incredibly misleading given the initial opposition to the attack, and subsequent announcement that they are helping facilitate it. The Pentagon has in the past been caught lying to Congress about the scope of its war in Yemen, falsely claiming no ground troops were involved despite sending special forces into northern Yemen. This latest statement suggests they’re continuing to be less than transparent about it.
The US has long struggled with consistent narrative on Yemen. Throughout the Saudi invasion, the US has offered in-air refueling to Saudi warplanes that have killed thousands of civilians. They have also publicly criticized the naval blockade of Yemen, despite US warships having directly participated at times in that blockade.
It should be unsurprising then that the US spent the last week feigning opposition to an attack on Hodeidah, only to join it. It’s a little more surprising that they’re going to the trouble to issue statements claiming they’re not participating after making it clear just days before that they would be.