World roundup: March 21 2022
Stories from Yemen, Ukraine, Chile, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
Yemeni rebels called a United Nations proposal for a Ramadan ceasefire “a positive step” in a statement on Monday. Who knows what that actually means, and there’s been no similarly upbeat comment from the Yemeni government or Saudi Arabia.
Quincy’s Annelle Sheline assesses the Biden administration’s clearly-broken promise to stop supporting the Saudi war effort in Yemen, and the extent to which it support has backfired:
The Saudi air force relies heavily on U.S. military contractors to provide maintenance, spare parts, and repairs for their planes: without U.S. help, the Saudis could not bomb Yemen. Based on Biden’s post-inauguration declaration that the U.S. was ending support for offensive military action, it is surprising that coalition air raid levels remained relatively consistent from 2020 to 2021. If the U.S. had genuinely withdrawn support for Saudi offensives, the rate of coalition air raids should have declined from the Trump era to the Biden era, but it has not.
Instead, coalition attacks began to increase dramatically in late 2021. Contrary to the characterizations of the Biden administration, this was not in response to Houthi transborder escalation, as Houthi attacks remained relatively stable. The Houthis may have escalated within Yemen, but they did not increase their attacks on Saudi territory.
The war is often framed as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia, supporting the ousted government of President Abd Rabo Mansur Hadi, and Iran, backing the Houthi rebels. Yet in practice, the Saudi-led intervention constitutes a campaign of collective punishment against the Yemeni population, 80 percent of whom live in areas controlled by the Houthis. The Saudis justify their aerial bombardment and fuel blockade as necessary to counteract the Houthis and their Iranian allies, but the Houthis’ strength has only grown over the past seven years, while the lives of ordinary Yemenis have been shattered. Saudi actions have only contributed to Houthi strength: the longer the war continues, the more likely the Houthis will consolidate control, an outcome many Yemenis dread.
I think it’s fair to say that most Yemenis don’t want to live under a Houthi-dominated government, but I’m guessing what they really don’t want is to continue being bombarded by the Saudi military and then wind up living under the Houthis anyway. Which is how things appear to be going.