The Impact of Ukraine on Yemen

The Western economic war on Russia over Ukraine is having a spillover effect on the forgotten war in Yemen, writes Kathy Kelly.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, MbS, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C, in 2018. (DoD, Kathryn E. Holm)

By  Kathy Kelly
Common Dreams

The United Nations’ goal was to raise more than $4.2 billion for the people of war-torn Yemen by March 15. But when that deadline rolled around, just $1.3 billion had come in.

“I am deeply disappointed,” said Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The people of Yemen need the same level of support and solidarity that we’ve seen for the people of Ukraine. The crisis in Europe will dramatically impact Yemenis’ access to food and fuel, making an already dire situation even worse.”

With Yemen importing more than 35 percent  of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, disruption to wheat supplies will cause soaring increases in the price of food. 

“Since the onset of the Ukraine conflict, we have seen the prices of food skyrocket by more than 150 percent,” said Basheer Al Selwi, a spokesperson for the International Commission of the Red Cross in Yemen. “Millions of Yemeni families don’t know how to get their next meal.”

The ghastly blockade and bombardment of Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is now entering its eighth year. The United Nations estimated last fall that the Yemen death toll would top 377,000 people by the end of 2021. 

US War Support  

The United States continues to supply spare parts for Saudi/UAE coalition war planes, along with maintenance and a steady flow of armaments. Without this support, the Saudis couldn’t continue their murderous aerial attacks. 

Yet tragically, instead of condemning atrocities committed by the Saudi/UAE invasion, bombing and blockade of Yemen, the United States is cozying up to the leaders of these countries.

As sanctions against Russia disrupt global oil sales, the United States is entering talks to become increasingly reliant on Saudi and UAE oil production. And Saudi Arabia and the UAE don’t want to increase their oil production without a U.S. agreement to help them increase their attacks against Yemen.

Yemeni man in June 2019, during a cholera outbreak linked to the destruction of clean-water infrastructure by warfare. (Peter Biro, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Human rights groups have decried the Saudi/UAE-led coalition for bombing roadways, fisheries, sewage and sanitation facilities, weddings, funerals and even a children’s school bus. In a recent attack, the Saudis killed 50 African migrants held in a detention center in Saada.  

The Saudi blockade of Yemen has choked off essential imports needed for daily life, forcing the Yemeni people to depend on relief groups for survival.

Congressional Effort

There is another way. U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Peter De Fazio of Oregon, both Democrats, are now seeking cosponsors for the Yemen War Powers Resolution. It demands that Congress cut military support for the Saudi/UAE-led coalition’s war against Yemen. 

On March 12, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people, including seven Yemenis – two of them prisoners of war and five of them accused of criticizing the Saudi war against Yemen. 

Just two days after the mass execution, the Gulf Corporation Council, including many of the coalition partners attacking Yemen, announced Saudi willingness to host peace talks in their own capital city of Riyadh, requiring Yemen’s Ansar Allah leaders (informally known as Houthis) to risk execution by Saudi Arabia in order to discuss the war. 

The Saudis have long insisted on a deeply flawed U.N. resolution which calls on the Houthi fighters to disarm but never even mentions the U.S. backed Saudi/UAE coalition as being among the warring parties. The Houthis say they will come to the negotiating table but cannot rely on the Saudis as mediators. This seems reasonable, given Saudi Arabia’s vengeful treatment of Yemenis.  

The people of the United States have the right to insist that U.S. foreign policy be predicated on respect for human rights, equitable sharing of resources and an earnest commitment to end all wars. We should urge Congress to use the leverage it has for preventing continued aerial bombardment of Yemen and sponsor Jayapal’s and De Fazio’s forthcoming resolution. 

We can also summon the humility and courage to acknowledge U.S. attacks against Yemeni civilians, make reparations and repair the dreadful systems undergirding our unbridled militarism. 

Kathy Kelly is a peace activist and author working to end U.S. military and economic wars. At times, her activism has led her to war zones and prisons.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

10 comments for “The Impact of Ukraine on Yemen

  1. Piotr Berman
    March 24, 2022 at 15:08

    In 2011, in the aftermath of mass demonstrations against Yemeni dictator, the transition to democracy was supervised by GCC, a consortium of absolute rulers. What could go wrong? And how the “collective West” decided to support that idea? Because they could not care less about the actual democracy? IMHO, this is a part of the answer.

  2. rosemerry
    March 24, 2022 at 13:53

    “The people of the United States have the right to insist that U.S. foreign policy be predicated on respect for human rights, equitable sharing of resources and an earnest commitment to end all wars. ”

    I find Kathy Kelly to be one of the most admirable people ever to inhabit this earth, but this sentence shows that the USA would have to jettison every “principle” it has ever held if it turned to this way of governing.

  3. Joe B
    March 23, 2022 at 18:11

    It appears that the UN or even the US could play Iran against KSA and UAE to achieve peace and a free oil supply.
    There appear to be many ways: a North African NATO, a union strike of UN oil consumers, a threat to invade them all if they don’t demilitarize, a union against Israel, etc., etc. It appears that nothing at all was attempted.

    The abject hypocrisy of the US/EU in all foreign policy matters requires that their governments be replaced.

  4. Anonymot
    March 23, 2022 at 12:16

    The American public barely knows about this war that is far more vicious and horrible than the one in the Ukraine. Everyone has forgotten that Richard Nixon created the Saudi power in his speech to Congress about Libya holding the Damocles Sword of oil over the heads of the free world and that could not be allowed. From that time on, the price of a Saudi barrel went from single digit dollars to three digits. Since then these medieval monsters have had the West by the short hairs.

    That is why America has been so fearful that the EU might become dependent on Russian oil and gas – which would put the EU countries in our own position – dependent on a different monster for fuel. Our perverted leaders wanted the EU energy-dependent on America, a sub-dependent of Saudi Arabia!

  5. Tristan Patterson
    March 23, 2022 at 12:04

    It’s a fucking sad state of affairs when the world’s so called moral police who have used “spreading democracy” as a pretext to destroy so many lives turn a cheek to the despicable regime of Saudi Arabia. I’ve opposed every imperial War of the US but if they rode into Riyadh, I could let that one slide.

    • Charles Carroll
      March 23, 2022 at 12:39


  6. Andrew Nichols
    March 23, 2022 at 07:27

    War and other atrocities dont matter in themselves…only who does them. This vile hypocrisy means there is no international law, no rules based order except might makes right..we are screwed as a species.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      March 23, 2022 at 10:04

      Yeah…and ethnicity plays a big role too. The colour of your skin decides your fate.

    • Selina Sweet
      March 23, 2022 at 12:14

      Right on, so then, what is one thing you, Andrew, can do today to lend your puny mortal weight in the direction of justice? Puny, until my puny weight and yours, hers, and his, and theirs come together en masse, and demand justice. Not just by a stroke on the computer keyboard, but with one’s all – meaning en masse in the street and strategic activism (see and google: Jim Britell, activist).

      • Charles Carroll
        March 23, 2022 at 12:46

        No war. Just people in the street, en mass, shutting down the airports. Imagine that. Just one day of peaceful protest. Surely we can afford that. It ran the British out of India

Comments are closed.