The war in Yemen is in its fourth year of unabating violence. What began as a power struggle within the government has now ensnared a population of nearly 30 million. With tens of thousands killed, millions displaced, and many more dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival, the state is on the brink of collapse
Yemen now constitutes one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, in a large and impoverished country. Nonetheless, little discussion is devoted to how U.S. policy affects this disaster and what might be done to ease the dire conditions on the ground. The United States supports the war effort of the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in the war, fighting against Iranian-backed Houthis. The war will also have major implications for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its stability. Riyadh is America’s oldest ally in the region and Washington has important geopolitical interests at stake. In September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certified that the U.S. allies were working to reduce civilian casualties, reportedly overriding staff recommendations on this.
On October 25, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion on these issues. Daniel Byman and Bruce Riedel, senior fellows in the Center for Middle East Policy, were joined by Dafna Rand, vice president for policy and research at Mercy Corps and a former White House and State Department official, and Fatima Abo Alasrar, senior analyst at the Arabia Foundation.
Following the conversation, the panelists took questions from the audience.
Senior Analyst - Arabia Foundation
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For the past year, you've seen that perhaps no leverage that the US and the West thought it had — aid, sanctions, the freezing of Afghanistan's reserves — has really had an effect on Taliban behavior. The Taliban has essentially done what they had always done. The Afghan people have been in a humanitarian crisis because the Taliban hasn't budged.