White House: Houthis to Blame for Continuation of Yemen War

Officials claim Saudis supporting UN initiatives

Seven years into the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, the White House has made an assessment on ceasefire efforts, saying the lack of progress is totally not Saudi Arabia’s fault. Instead, the US is blaming the Houthis.

The White House’s Brett McGurk argues it “takes two to get to a ceasefire,” and that the Saudis have been supporting UN initiatives, saying its up to the Houthis to go along.

Praising the primary belligerent, a US ally who is buying billions of dollars in US arms for this specific war, while blaming the other side, is somewhat a predictable reaction. Doing so with the Biden Administration insisting they want out of the Yemen War, however, raises a few questions about where the US is actually going.

The specific US case is also strongly misleading. The talk of UN initiatives is assumed to imply peace initiatives, but in practice the Saudis embraced pre-war UN statements rejecting the Houthis, and used those as the pretext for invasion. That they’ve stuck to UN pronouncements that President Hadi is still the rightful ruler, despite his term in office ending 8 years ago, does not speak to the Saudis being willing to compromise out of this war.

The Houthis have been open to peace talks too, but as the side under attack, they have less flexibility to make it happen. The main Houthi conditions to get into the process were an end to the Saudi naval blockade, which is preventing food and medical aid from efficiently entering the country. Time and again, the Saudis have refused.

If both sides would take mutual steps toward that end, a deal could be found to end a conflict which is benefiting no one, and which no one can hope to win. Getting there would be easier if the Saudis were more willing to make compromises, and if the US would stop serving as the international apologist for years of failed intervention.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.