Trump’s Gross Hypocrisy on Yemen War

Exclusive: The Trump administration’s hypocrisy was on clear display when it denounced Iran over an ineffectual Yemeni missile that landed in Saudi Arabia while the U.S. aids the Saudi slaughter of Yemeni civilians, says  Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Political charlatans like Donald Trump often employ an essential trick from stage magic: misdirecting the audience. By taking the public’s eye off the real issues and channeling discussion toward made-up controversies, they can keep working their agenda in the shadows.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been quick to learn that technique from her mentor in the Oval Office. Last week, in a performance reminiscent of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s UN speech before the Iraq War, she staged a highly publicized demonstration of alleged Iranian perfidy: bits and pieces of a missile fired on Nov. 4 by Houthi rebels in Yemen toward Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport outside of Riyadh.

“When you look at this missile, this is terrifying, this is absolutely terrifying,” Haley asserted. She said the scraps included “parts made by Iran, some by Iran’s government-run defense industry. All are proof that Iran is defying the international community.” In particular, she claimed that Iran is violating a United Nations Security Council resolution banning it from engaging in transfers of ballistic missiles — an annex to the Security Council’s endorsement of the Iran nuclear deal.

Critics quickly shot holes in her case. For one thing, the Security Council’s resolution actually says “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons . . .” “Called upon” is not the same as a ban. Nor would any serious expert confuse Houthi rockets with nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

In addition, the New York Times noted, “Defense officials said they could not say exactly when the weapons . . . were given to the Houthis, which means that they could have been transferred before the Security Council resolution was enacted.”

Nor could a U.N. panel of experts even confirm that Iran had supplied the missiles; analysts at IHS Jane’s raised the possibility that Houthi rebels modified foreign missiles purchased by Yemen’s military before the outbreak of war. Although Haley put on display an Iranian-made component that was allegedly part of the missile, one reporter noted that the debris also contained an American-made part used to circulate liquid fuel propellant.

“Unless someone can provide a direct smoking gun, such as a shipping manifest or other documents which clearly identify the weapons and how they were sourced, this is simply speculation to further support the administration, Saudi, and Israeli case to militarily confront Iran,” said Rob Richer, former associate deputy director for operations at the CIA.

Diversion from Saudi War Crimes

Haley’s show was pure misdirection. No serious analyst of the region doubts that Iran has given at least some limited material support to the Houthi rebels who control a sizeable portion of Yemen, including its capital, Sanaa.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the United Nations on April 28, 2017.

The question of whether Iran also smuggled a small number of relatively crude missiles to the Houthis should hardly weigh too heavily on anyone’s moral scales when Saudi Arabia and its allies have been pounding Yemen since March 2015 with high-explosive bombs, mostly supplied by the United States and Great Britain.

As former CIA analyst and presidential adviser Bruce Riedel said of Riyadh’s vocal outrage over the ineffectual Houthi missile attack, “They desperately want to change the conversation away from starving children to Iranian bad guys.”

Or as Iran’s foreign minister put it in a tweet, Saudi Arabia “bombs Yemen to smithereens, killing 1000s of innocents including babies, spreads cholera and famine, but of course blames Iran.”

The Houthis fired off their missile — which killed no one — just days after a Saudi-led airstrike at a market in northern Yemen killed at least 25 civilians.

Immediately after the Houthi retaliation, the Saudi coalition bombed Yemen’s international airport and closed all the country’s other air, land, and seaports, putting in dire peril some 7 million people deemed by humanitarian agencies to be immediately at risk of famine.

The Saudi blockade also made it almost impossible for medical workers to contain the spread of cholera, which has sickened nearly a million people. The international aid group Save the Children estimated that 50,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 could die by year’s end.

“It is very clear that if you are using starvation as a weapon you are in breach of international humanitarian law,” said Penny Mordaunt, the British government’s international development secretary.

The U.N.’s human rights office recently accused the Saudi coalition of further killing at least 136 non-combatants from Dec. 6 to 16. Targets of its bombs included a TV station, a hospital, and a wedding party. The hospital was in the Red Sea port of Hodeida, the country’s main point of entry for food. Some close observers predict an imminent attack by the Saudi coalition to oust Houthi rebels from the city — a move that one of Oxfam’s senior executives said would “breach international humanitarian law” and result in “near certain famine.”

President Trump earlier this month called on the Saudi government to permit “food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it.” It’s hard to take his words seriously, however, after Reuters’ report that “Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy about $7 billion worth of precision guided munitions from U.S. defense contractors . . . in a deal that was part of a $110 billion weapons agreement that coincided with President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May.”

Nonetheless, there are serious rumblings of concern in Congress, even among Republicans, over the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently pressed Trump’s nominee to the State Department’s top legal office about the implications of Saudi Arabia’s blockade on international aid to Yemen.

And just last month, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to condemn the killing of civilians in Yemen and to demand that the warring parties “increase efforts to adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent civilian casualties and increase humanitarian access.”

By itself, to be sure, that was a toothless measure, but it’s a sign that anti-Iran sentiment on Capitol Hill has not blinded legislators to the crimes being committed by the Saudi coalition in Yemen. So far, at least, Nikki Haley’s tricks have failed to divert the world’s attention.

Jonathan Marshall’s articles on Yemen include “How US Policy Helps Al Qaeda in Yemen,” “The West’s Moral Hypocrisy on Yemen,” “Belated Pushback on Saudis’ War on Yemen,” and “How Washington Adds to Yemen’s Nightmare.”

26 comments for “Trump’s Gross Hypocrisy on Yemen War

  1. John Kauai
    December 27, 2017 at 02:32

    Interesting that no mention is made of the fact that Obama was involved with this war in Yemen. The drones killing people are American.

    I’m not defending Trump or Halley. Just pointing out that this article is just taking a side in a discussion that is orthogonal to Americas real problems.

  2. December 22, 2017 at 14:28

    See Article at link below.
    1,000 days of war: The starvation plan for Yemen
    Presenting themselves as shocked bystanders to the growing famine in Yemen, the US and UK are in fact prime movers in a new strategy that will massively escalate it

    Dan Glazebrook
    Tuesday 19 December 2017 11:48 UTC
    Thursday 21 December 2017 6:39 UTC

  3. Zachary Smith
    December 22, 2017 at 13:23

    Here is a headline I just found at the Moon of Alabama site.

    Washington Post Calls For Outrage About War On Yemen – Hides U.S. Role In It

    YOU SHOULD BE OUTRAGED, says the Washington Post. But outraged at whom? Not one word in the piece mentions that the U.S. is directing the war on Yemen and providing to the Saudis all they need to commit the ongoing war crimes.

    The U.S. provides the bombs, it provides the intelligence and since early this year it doubled its refueling flights for the Saudi bombing attacks. (The military is now intentionally muddling that data.)

    Utterly shameless people at Bezos’ WP.

  4. Piotr Berman
    December 22, 2017 at 12:59

    Perhaps one should also remind what is the ostensible purpose for this misbegotten war: “restoration of the rule of internationally recognized government” or “president”. For some reasons, there is no reference to “democratically elected”, a lesser reason is that single-candidate elections with 98% collected vote are not looking particularly democratic, and additionally, that candidate was selected by a national reconciliation committee that for months could not reach compromise, until a Houthi representative was assassinated and other Houthi representatives abstained in protest, and the same happened with southern delegates. A major reason is that sponsors of that puppet, absolute monarchs of KSA and UAE, detest the word “democratic”.

    So ports, hospitals, food processing factories, funerals and weddings are blown up at the request of Hadi, the legitimate president. Who is probably the most universally hated person in Yemen, including the southern part controlled by KSA+UAE plus local militias that do not want to be ruled together with the rest of Yemen.

    So the cause championed by that war is as misbegotten as the war conduct.

  5. george Archers
    December 22, 2017 at 11:12

    You all haven’t seen yet what Donald Trump is planning to start WWIII. Masquerading as people’s chosen one, Trump hides his real intentions and uses his selected appointments as the bad ones. Head for the hills.

  6. December 21, 2017 at 19:27

    More Info on the treachery being enacted with our tax dollars. See link below.
    May 13, 2017
    The War Gangs and War Criminals of NATO to Meet in Brussels

  7. December 21, 2017 at 15:37

    Perfect Stephen. Thank you.

  8. December 21, 2017 at 15:00

    I believe, Yemen is a War Crime, perpetrated by War Criminals. Here is a Christmas Message for them below.

    December 15, 2017

    A Christmas Message for the War Criminals

    There is no “Peace on Earth” because of what you do
    Millions are dead and their homes destroyed, all “thanks” to you
    Some cities have been reduced to burning, smoking rubble
    And some countries are now in chaos; you started all this trouble

    Millions are in refugee camps, and millions wander the earth
    Many refugees are drowning in the sea, or lying dead in the surf
    Bombing, killing, blood and gore is your legacy to humanity
    All of you posture on the world stage and promote more bloody insanity

    So as you toast each other and drink glasses of blood red wine
    Perhaps in your hypocrisy you don’t realise that you are, the “Gadarene Swine”
    Fiends dressed in expensive suits, with “honourable” titles to your names
    When you all should be in prison gear, and hanging your heads in shame

    Instead you all are free, and spending time with your loved ones
    While those people still alive are victims of your bombings and guns
    Many of their families you destroyed, and killed their children too
    There is no Merry Christmas for them; “whited sepulchres” are you

    Christians are also slaughtered in illegal wars all because of you
    And some of you are supposedly Christians, is that really “true”?
    And the good book says, “Brother will betray brother to death”
    And you financed and supported terrorists. Have you no morals left?

    So this Christmas season as you lounge in luxury, loathsome splendour
    Your Christmas or holiday cards should read, “We are the death senders,” “We make countries unliveable, and commit crimes that are unforgivable”
    That would be a true Christmas message about you the evil War Criminals …

    [more info at link below]

    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 15:25

      Beautiful poem Stephen – one of your best. And totally appropriate to be read as a prayer offering before sitting down to Christmas dinner. I’m sure Jesus would approve of one’s doing so…….

      I am contemplating whether to read it at my clan’s dinner gathering instead of the usual self-congratulatory rant that is intoned. I already have the reputation among my kin of being the “ghost at the banquet” – so what have I got to lose?………..

  9. Mike Morrison
    December 21, 2017 at 14:35

    And the United States assisting in the Donbass, Ukraine.

    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 14:59

      More quibble and misdirection; ironically the same technique used to muddy the waters mentioned in the article.

  10. December 21, 2017 at 14:33

    I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but I believe Satanic evil is loose in America. More info on this at link below.
    December 20, 2017
    “The ‘Great Satan’ and His Satanic Gang of War Criminals”

    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 15:16

      Stephen, your remarks about Satanic Evil are totally accurate and true. However we characterize the awful things being done in the name of goodness, they deserve our utmost censure. I admire you Stephen for your courage and willingness to directly express the horrendous truth about our fallen world. This is a matter of fact and reality that transcends people’s various religious interpretations. One does not require any religious viewpoint whatever to see the ugly truth of our crimes against each other. Those who are unwilling and/or unable to clearly accept and confront the reality of our crimes against humanity are complicit by their silence and averted gaze in the holocaust of evil happening all around us. Please continue Stephen in your poems and undeniable research to confront our complacent world with the truth of it’s unspeakably evil deeds.

      • December 21, 2017 at 16:08

        Thanks mike k.
        Merry Christmas to you and yours and all the posters at Consortium News.
        Cheers Stephen

    • LJ
      December 21, 2017 at 22:03

      I guess those savage Redskins on the frontier weren’t civilized enough to blame Satanic Evil when those nice Christian People like General Custer hunted them down and committed Genocide against their people. I guess IS murdering Christians in Syria and using TOW Missiles against all Syrian People that were given them by USA Presidential Orders vis-a-vis vetted Islamist Mercenaries wasn’t Satanic Evil since that policy was supported by many so called Christians in our nation?. When hasn’t Satan been loose in this nation? White men brought the term Satan with them from Europe by the way he wasn’t here before that but Satan was loose over there and had been for a long while. My point is> it’s like this always, more people more Satanic manifestations get used to it. Nonetheless, forcing the Democratic and Republican Parties out of power would help a lot I grant you.

  11. LJ
    December 21, 2017 at 14:24

    It’s Official US hypocrisy. Trump is the latest cardboard cut out paste on. It’s like the election in Honduras, the destabilization of Libya, having US Forces based in Syria without a UN Security Council Resolution or Congressional Approval of an Act of War, ( 11 bases) when the supposed mission to drive out IS has been accomplished, Like vetoing the UN Resolution regarding the US moving “our” embassy to Jerusalem, like being the only nation besides Ukraine to vote against a UN Resolution condemning Fascism, ……, The President may well be one of only a handful of people who do not realize that The Donald is not in control of our Foreign Policy, our Military posture or anything else when it comes right down to it but he’s taking names at the UN that’s for sure and everybody is real ascared.

  12. Virginia
    December 21, 2017 at 13:26

    Yes, even Putin said that the US acted the same in foreign policy regardless of who was in office as President. Many plots afoot as Elites press towards New World Order. Remember TV show, ” Who’s in Charge?” Americans would be doing themselves a favor to be asking themselves that question.

    • December 21, 2017 at 14:32

      Yes, Virginia,…the invisible hand that moves the puppets makes them do strange things!

    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 14:57


    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 14:57

      More quibble diverting from the issue raised in the article.

    • Annie
      December 21, 2017 at 20:15

      I agree the US government operates under the influence, and pressure of many groups, but they should still be held accountable for their decisions to go along which are based on their own personal interests.

  13. scrabbleddie
    December 21, 2017 at 12:49

    One quibble: The writer focuses too much on Trump– a functionary in the transnational, MSM, neocon, MIC, banking, corporate-state lobbyist-system.
    Trump in the title does get more clicks, however, there should be an over-arching responsibility to fill in these post-truth “lobbyist-system” blanks. There’s foreign-policy continuity, from one regime to another, for a reason.

    • mike k
      December 21, 2017 at 14:56

      That is a quibble.

    • Annie
      December 21, 2017 at 19:45

      No, I don’t think he really focuses too much on Trump, not when Nikki Haley makes threats, and is trying to put the onus on Iran for the bombing of an airport in Riyadh, which provides Saudi Arabia with a greater excuse for a total blockade of Yemen, and we continue to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons. Nor do I think that this administration cares how many people die in Yemen, but what they may care about is that the mounting deaths in Yemen may become a real PR disaster for Trump and his administration. Between famine and the spreading cholera epidemic there could be millions of lives lost.

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