Feb 15, 2021
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.
“We’re stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen,” Joe Biden said on February 4. He added, “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.” The next day, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced his intention to remove the Houthis—the militias Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen—from the list of groups Washington considers terrorist.
The war has gone on in Yemen for six years. The so-called Decisive Storm offensive aimed to restore the power of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was overthrown by a Houthi rebellion on September 21, 2014. The outbreak of this war was approved by United Nations Security Council resolution 2216, approved unanimously on April 14, 2015—in other words, by all the imperialist countries. Saudi Arabia was therefore given a blank check to bombard and control all entrances and exits to Yemen, and to put in place a form of blockade which fostered what NGOs have described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in decades.” Saudi Arabia shares a 900-mile border with Yemen and has always considered it as its preserve.
The United Nations now estimates the number of victims of the fighting and the humanitarian disaster at 250,000. Five million Yemenis have been displaced and three quarters of the country’s 30 million people are on the brink of famine.
Biden seeks to distinguish himself from his predecessor—and for the moment, that is limited to speeches. Perhaps current statements herald changes, as growing instability in this part of the world bordering on major shipping lanes for international trade is cause for concern for U.S. leaders. But that’s not even certain. Biden does not intend to withdraw his support for the Saudi regime, one of imperialism’s main allies in the region, or to threaten the profits of arms manufacturers.
As an American official quoted by Agence France-Presse also assured, it is only a question of “ensuring U.S. arms sales meet our strategic objectives.” There might be differences between Trump and Biden, but above all and first of all there are continuities—imposed by the defense of the interests of imperialism.