15 August 2018   Leave a comment

Micah Zenko has written an essay for Foreign Policy which is the most honest analysis of the US role in the Saudi Arabian war against Yemen I have yet read.  Most Americans are unaware of the war and even less aware of the US role in supporting Saudi Arabia.  Zenko starts out the essay by pointing out that US support for Saudi Arabia goes back to the Obama Administration:

“Washington’s participation began on March 26, 2015, when a White House spokesperson announced, ‘President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations.’ On March 26, toward the end of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) asked U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Lloyd Austin what the ultimate goal of the GCC air campaign in Yemen was, and for the general to estimate its likelihood of success.

“Gen. Austin answered with refreshing honesty: ‘I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I would have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.’ Gillibrand replied, ‘Well, I do hope you get the information sooner than later.’ In other words, the military commander responsible for overseeing the provision of support for a new air war in the Middle East did not know what the goals of the intervention were, or how he could evaluate whether it was successful. The United States had become a willing co-combatant in a war without any direction or clear end state.

Zenko’s concluding paragraph says it all:

“The United States has been directly engaged in the civil war since March 25, 2015, and its support has not prevented the killing of innocents. It is time to phase out and terminate America’s support for the Saudi-led component of this civil war, and, more importantly, never again go to war, or support other’s wars, without purpose or objectives.”

The  Yemeni conflict is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. 


The dispute between Turkey and the US over the fate of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, has quickly escalated and the turmoil has brought the Turkish economy to the brink of disaster.   That the Trump Administration has focused so intently on one US citizen is somewhat inexplicable given that there are 50,000 Turks who have been imprisoned and a large number of foreign nationals, including 12 Americans.  It is clear that the Administration has been willing to compromise its relations with Turkey over the fate of a Christian pastor without mentioning the other prisoners is testimony to the power of the evangelical lobby.  At the White House press briefing today, Sarah Sanders said:

“We feel that Turkey and specifically President Erdogan have treated Pastor Brunson, who we know to be a very good person and a strong Christian, who has done nothing wrong, very unfairly.  And it’s something that we won’t forget in the administration.”

Moreover, there was an interesting exchange in the State Department Briefing today:

QUESTION:  Why is it important, this one American, to put global financial stability at risk, put U.S. base presence in Turkey at risk, put a NATO ally – an alliance with a NATO partner at risk, for one American who’s being put through the Turkish justice system?

MS NAUERT:  So you’re saying this is our fault?

QUESTION:  No, I’m saying why —

MS NAUERT:  This situation is our fault?

QUESTION:  Why escalate it to that level for a single American who has —

MS NAUERT:  I think —

QUESTION:  — not been tortured or treated – he’s being put through the Turkish justice system.

MS NAUERT:  I think that I would take issue with the premise of your question.  In terms of the financial situation in Turkey, we addressed this yesterday, and Turkey’s financial situation has been in the works for quite some time and it dates prior to the imposition of sanctions on August – I believe it was August the 1st.  So this has been in train for quite some time and you cannot blame the U.S. Government for that.

We have a very broad relationship with the Government of Turkey.  Of course, with all nations, as a general matter, we will often have areas where we don’t always agree, where we don’t always see eye to eye, but we also have areas where we do work together and cooperate, and Turkey would be one of those governments where we sometimes have areas where we disagree and we certainly sometimes have areas where we cooperate as well.  Okay.

QUESTION:  But this isn’t one thing that you simply disagree one area.  This has been put to the forefront of everything.

MS NAUERT:  And your question is?

QUESTION:  So why is this one more important than all the others, it seems?

MS NAUERT:  You’re trying to single out one individual, and I have stood here repeatedly, as have many of my colleagues, to speak about other people who have been detained in that country.  Our chief mission is the protection of American citizens.  That would obviously include Pastor Brunson.  We also have three locally employed staff.  I spoke about them just yesterday and was very clear with all of you that that is a major concern of ours.  There is also a NASA scientist who has been detained by the Turkish Government; that is important to us as well, and you’ve heard that come out of the State Department, you’ve heard that come out of the White House, and from our other colleagues as well.

The Turkish economic turmoil continues to rattle the world financial markets.  Inflation in Turkey is running at a 101% annual rate and capital will continue to flow out of the country unless the currency stabilizes. The European banks that have investments in Turkey are at a clear risk of losing a great deal of money.

Posted August 15, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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