On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to “defend” Saudi Arabia.
The two discussed the war in Yemen, where the US is still supporting Riyadh’s vicious siege despite President Biden’s promise to end support for “offensive” operations. Biden made the vow in February, and at the end of April, it was revealed that the US is still servicing Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen.
In a readout of the call, the Pentagon said that Austin spoke with MbS to “emphasize the US commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory and people.”
“They discussed regional security, particularly efforts to end the war in Yemen. Secretary Austin thanked the Crown Prince for working closely and constructively with US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking to end the war in Yemen,” the Pentagon said.
The US is blaming the Houthis for the lack of progress in the Yemen peace process. But the Biden administration refuses to pressure Saudi Arabia into lifting the blockade on Yemen, which is a key Houthi condition for a ceasefire.
The embargo is still being enforced even as the UN is warning that 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five will starve to death this year if conditions don’t change. The Houthis, as well as activists and international aid groups, are calling on Riyadh to separate the blockade from the negotiations and not use the suffering of ordinary Yemenis as a bargaining chip.
The US frames its support for Saudi Arabia as “defensive” in nature due to Houthi missile and drone attacks inside Saudi territory. But these attacks wouldn’t be happening if Riyadh didn’t intervene in Yemen in 2015 and hadn’t been bombing the country for over six years. Houthi attacks have stepped up in recent years and have become more sophisticated, which shows the blockade is doing nothing but starving civilians.