A Tale of Two Wars: Biden Decries Russian Atrocities in Ukraine While Backing Saudi/UAE War in Yemen

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This can be a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its closing type.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.

As we speak, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to carry talks on vitality safety, whilst critics increase considerations in regards to the international locations’ human rights data. This comes as U.S. officers are additionally reportedly speaking to Saudi officers about President Biden visiting to Saudi Arabia to debate world oil provide, whereas the U.S. refuses to immediately condemn Saudi Arabia for executing 81 males on Saturday — its largest mass execution ever. Efforts to barter with the Saudis to extend oil and sanctions on Russian oil come as a lot of the world is horrified by the atrocities within the warfare in Ukraine. UNICEF studies the Ukraine warfare is creating a baby refugee nearly each second in Ukraine.

On the identical time, we’re listening to little or no in regards to the world’s worst humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen, which is now seven years into the Saudi-led warfare and blockade, backed by arms gross sales and technical help from the USA and its allies, together with the UK. The United Nations warns acute circumstances of starvation in Yemen have reached an unprecedented degree, with over 160,000 individuals more likely to expertise famine within the subsequent half-year. Greater than 17 million individuals in Yemen are in want of meals help, with excessive ranges of acute malnutrition amongst kids underneath the age of 5.

This was the main target of Half 2 of my dialog with Sarah Leah Whitson. She’s the manager director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN. We spoke to her Tuesday about DAWN’s civil lawsuit towards the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the homicide of Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated within the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in 2018 and was DAWN’s founder. I requested Sarah Leah Whitson: How is it potential that the U.S. is continuous to assist the Saudi-led warfare and blockade of Yemen?

SARAH LEAH WHITSON: It’s mind-boggling. And it’s mind-boggling that Mohammed bin Salman has really mentioned that he won’t enhance oil manufacturing until the U.S. will increase its assist for the warfare in Yemen. Principally, the Biden administration is bargaining to do extra to avoid wasting the youngsters of Ukraine by massacring extra kids in Yemen. That’s the method. And that’s why it’s simply — it’s so discombobulating to see Secretary Blinken and President Biden falling over themselves to decry Russian atrocities in Ukraine whereas they assist very related, if not worse — definitely, thus far, worse — atrocities by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen.

We’ve got to be very clear: Saudi and UAE are ravenous the individuals of Yemen with a seven-year air, land and sea blockade that has eviscerated the nation’s means to import meals, drugs and gas. Yemen is a rustic that imports over 90% of its meals. After all individuals are ravenous when Saudi and UAE impose a complete blockade on the nation. After all individuals are ravenous when sanctions proceed to be in place. They haven’t fully been lifted. The U.S. simply redesignated so-called Houthi financiers, that can additional debilitate the flexibility of the nation to import even reliable merchandise like gas and meals and drugs imports.

What the Biden administration has now executed is what even the Trump administration refused to do, which is reengage as a celebration of the battle, placing American troops on the road as a part of the combating effort, as a part of the warfare, making them reliable navy targets within the UAE, the place U.S. forces from the navy base within the UAE have actively participated in firing Patriot missiles towards the Houthis in Yemen, ostensibly to defend the UAE from incoming Houthi missiles. However actually the easiest way for the UAE to guard itself is to cease supporting proxy forces, to cease arming and funding proxy forces, which it dramatically elevated in doing to start with of this yr, and to finish its blockade of Yemen. Similar goes for Saudi Arabia. This can be a dead-end warfare.

Greatest information I heard this morning: Reportedly, the Saudis have invited Houthi representatives for talks to Riyadh. I don’t know if the Houthis will belief this provide. There have been prior provides like this. However the entire world is aware of that the Saudis and the Emiratis aren’t going to win this warfare. It’s been seven years. They thought it was going to take weeks. What a joke. They’ve decimated this nation.

And if the USA expects your complete world, which has not gone alongside, to sanction Russia, to purchase what it’s promoting when it comes to defending Ukraine, then it’s acquired to cease supporting the warfare in Yemen, as a result of the world sees this. The world sees that when the USA talks about sovereignty and violence and never making an attempt to extract concessions by pressure, it’s acquired to observe, to speak the speak in Yemen, not simply inform the world what to do in Ukraine, as a result of the world just isn’t shopping for it. That is why there may be no more assist for the warfare towards Russia in Ukraine.

AMY GOODMAN: You recognize, perhaps that’s the place you’ve acquired it unsuitable, if you say the world sees. I believe the world doesn’t see the best way it sees what’s occurring in Ukraine proper now. I wish to learn a tweet from CodePink. “Why is there such a disparity between protection of the warfare on Ukraine vs. the warfare on Yemen? Protection of Yemen reveals the US and UK’s complicity in creating the humanitarian disaster. Protection of Ukraine constructs the US, the UK, & their allies because the ‘saviors of democracy.’” So, let’s speak in regards to the distinction. I imply, you have got for instance, CNN anchors — and this isn’t unsuitable. Maybe it needs to be a mannequin of protection of warfare in so many various cities, in Ukraine, so that you see the actual results of what warfare seems to be like, seems like, smells like, the destruction of hospitals, the bombing of colleges, and folks really feel it viscerally. Might you think about should you had those self same hosts in Sana’a, in Aden, elsewhere in Yemen every day to really feel this humanitarian disaster, the worst on the planet? Are you able to discuss that, the precise lack of protection of what’s occurring on the bottom in Yemen, so the world doesn’t reply, proper? As Noam Chomsky says, the media manufactures consent for warfare, and lets individuals know what’s occurring to allow them to reply.

SARAH LEAH WHITSON: There are three components to this, Amy. The primary is the dearth of protection just isn’t an accident. It’s by design. Saudi and the UAE have executed all the pieces they’ll to dam worldwide media, block worldwide human rights investigators, together with myself, from touring to Yemen. When the warfare began, we — after I was at Human Rights Watch, we had been on the bottom in Yemen. We had been capable of journey to Yemen to doc what was occurring, to doc the destruction, to interview victims. The Saudis made that more and more troublesome, together with banning, forcibly banning, by threatening to withdraw funds from U.N. planes that had been nonetheless touring to Yemen and taking in humanitarian organizations. So, the Saudis, they perceive the ability of the media. They perceive the ability of the protection that you just described. And that’s why they’ve executed all the pieces they’ll to make it not possible. It’s so troublesome for worldwide media to get wherever close to the combating in Yemen. Aden stays accessible, however you need to take a ship from Djibouti to get there. It’s nearly not possible to fly into the nation. So, the restrictions on getting in for worldwide media are super, versus, after all, Ukraine, the place anyone can go in freely to doc what’s occurring.

The second is simply the issue of time. The media jumps from one disaster to a different. The Ukraine disaster is new. The Yemen disaster is previous. It’s been seven years. And we have now seen, repeatedly, how the media loses curiosity and has to maneuver on to the following factor. So there’s an consideration span challenge.

And eventually, there may be the inherent racism that we see and that we’ve seen on such grotesque show by the Western media, speaking in regards to the white and blue-eyed, blond-haired Ukrainians who’re by some means completely different. Their refugee standing is completely different. Their struggling is completely different. They’re civilized individuals. They’re European individuals. And so there may be an inherent bias within the Western media, particularly, who’re the majority of these current in Ukraine, to sympathize with, to really feel compassion and struggling for Ukrainians underneath bombardment, however not the identical struggling, not the identical ache for Yemenis underneath bombardment, for Yemenis who’re actually being starved to dying. And I believe this can be a good second for everybody within the media to verify their biases, to essentially take into consideration why that’s and what they’ll do to repair it. I might hope that the worldwide media makes use of this as a possibility to redouble its efforts to journey to Yemen and see for itself. After they have proven up, because the BBC did final yr in some unbelievable footage, unbelievable protection, it did make a distinction. And I actually assume and hope and I want that the worldwide media spends only a fraction of the trouble they’re making now to cowl Ukraine to get into Yemen, to point out the world what’s occurring. This can be a good second to attract out the comparisons, the robust, robust parallels between what’s occurring in Yemen and what’s occurring in Ukraine.

AMY GOODMAN: Lastly, Sarah Leah Whitson, I wished to ask you about Congress and what it’s doing about Yemen proper now, as a result of this isn’t simply the Saudi-UAE-led assault on Yemen. It’s equipped militarily and helped in its funding by the USA. Are you able to discuss what’s occurring in Congress?

SARAH LEAH WHITSON: Certain. So, whereas, underneath the Trump administration, the U.S. Congress, in a exceptional present of bipartisan assist, Republican and Democrat, voted thrice to ban U.S. assist for the warfare in Yemen and ban arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia for the warfare in Yemen, underneath the Biden administration they accredited arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia for the warfare in Yemen, utilizing the useful fig leaf of calling them defensive weapons. It’s fairly disappointing, if not disgusting, that even members of Congress, like Chris Murphy, who’ve been so vocal in condemning the warfare in Yemen and so vocal in condemning arms gross sales to Yemen, and even vowing that he wouldn’t assist arms gross sales to Yemen, voted in assist of arms gross sales to Yemen that the Biden administration put ahead.

I believe, sadly, it reveals an awesome deal in regards to the battle of curiosity inside the U.S. authorities that’s so beholden to the protection trade and protection trade income and protection trade employment, each earlier than and after — they’re a part of the federal government — however in addition to the notion that we should proceed to persuade the Saudi Arabians for acquiescence to a brand new arms cope with Iran, or now for growing oil manufacturing, by doing what they need and sacrificing Yemen and the Yemeni individuals if we have now to. There are efforts to introduce a brand new warfare powers decision, led by, amongst others, Consultant Ro Khanna, that will resubmit the renewed, reengaged American combating within the Yemen warfare to a congressional warfare powers decision and warfare powers approval. However I’m not fully assured that that can cross.

AMY GOODMAN: And might you clarify precisely what’s the U.S. position within the assault, the decimation of Yemen?

SARAH LEAH WHITSON: Certain, it’s multifold. Primary, after all, is the availability of American weapons. They’re the majority of the weapons bought by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and people are the weapons which are touchdown on the heads of Yemeni kids, Yemeni ladies, Yemeni properties, Yemeni farms, Yemeni colleges, Yemeni universities. That is how this nation is being destroyed, with American weapons. As well as, there was years of so-called intelligence assist — I ought to say dumbness assist — in supposedly serving to the Saudis perform their concentrating on and decimation and bombardment, which after all has been wildly indiscriminate, as a result of the Saudis insist on flying their planes so excessive, to keep away from being shot, that they actually can’t goal something with any type of precision. And now we have now the direct engagement of U.S. forces, as I used to be mentioning, within the UAE to assist Emirati forces to fireplace missiles again at incoming Houthi missiles. So the USA is immediately a celebration to this battle once more, and its troops are in danger within the UAE as events to the warfare. And it’s simply exceptional to me that President Biden would endanger Individuals this manner.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Sarah Leah Whitson, govt director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN, which was based by Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by Saudi brokers within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

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That is Democracy Now! Subsequent up, because the Ukrainian president repeats his name for NATO to impose a no-fly zone and is chatting with the U.S. Congress right this moment, we communicate to historian Stephen Wertheim. Stick with us.

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