The unintended consequences of Jamal Khashoggi's killing

Has the Trump administration had a sudden attack of humanitarianism? Perhaps it was struck by warnings of na...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 12:45 PM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 12:45 PM

Has the Trump administration had a sudden attack of humanitarianism? Perhaps it was struck by warnings of nationwide famine in Yemen? Or did it move to call for a ceasefire in southern Arabia out of a sudden concern for its tattered citizens?

Nope.

Continents and regions

Famine and food shortages

International relations

International relations and national security

Jamal Khashoggi

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Mike Pompeo

Misc people

North America

Political Figures - US

Saudi Arabia

Societal issues

Society

The Americas

Treaties and agreements

United States

Yemen

But no matter how cynical the tardy call for a quick peace may be, it's likely to be welcomed by both sides in an unwinnable war.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have fired a double-barreled salvo of demands for a peace in Yemen because the war -- which the US has backed there -- is now seen by DC as toxic.

Many Republicans and Democrats in Congress are bitter that the Trump administration has, until recently, been blind to the atrocious war that has torn apart an already fragmented Yemen.

Whatever the outcome of the midterm elections in the US next week, the Trump administration will still have to face an ever-tougher line -- from both parts of the legislature -- on continued support for the Saudi-led coalition, which is waging war against Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen.

This line will inevitably harden following the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was last seen alive entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudis have admitted he died at the hands of their security personnel.

His death is unrelated to the war in the Yemen. But it's being felt as a straw that has broken the back of the most hardened supporters of the Kingdom.

As Republican Sen. Linsey Graham said: "The relationship is important, but our values are more important. I have been there enough to know. I have been the leading supporter along with John McCain of the US-Saudi relationship. I feel completely betrayed."

Then there's the warnings of famine. According to the UN's World Food Programme some 12 million Yemenis face the threat of famine because of the Saudi-led coalition's pressure on the Houthi-held port of Hodeidah.

In short, the argument goes, Hodeidah is the lifeline to 12 million people in Houthi territory. If the coalition closes the port as part of its military campaign, the food stops flowing.

So Pompeo put out a statement calling on all sides to reach a ceasefire.

"The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."

But he too cared to make sure that the Saudis, who are backed by the West including the US, UK and France, don't have to make the first move.

That falls to the Iranian-backed Houthis. Once they've stopped their drone and missile attacks. "Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen," Pompeo said.

Mattis followed up with: "We've got to move toward a peace effort here, and you can't say we're going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days."

Sudden urgency from the US comes after years of overt and covert support for the Saudi-led coalition including midair refueling of Saudi jets and a steady flow of new bombs from the US and the UK.

David Miliband, president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, was quick to endorse the US call for a ceasefire.

"The statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen is the most significant breakthrough in the war in Yemen for four years," said the IRC boss, who also happens to be a former British foreign secretary.

The Saudis and their main Gulf allies in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, appeared to have been caught on the hop by the sudden American passion for peace.

Eighteen hours after the Mattis and Pompeo statements, they were still scrabbling for a response.

They may feel peeved that they've been blindsided.

But as with their Houthi enemy, there is likely to be a sense of relief.

The Saudi-led coalition's campaign to take Hodeidah has run into the sand. Troops from anti-Houthi militia including Sudanese fighters have been held up on the outskirts of the port city around the airport for weeks.

They've had heavy losses elsewhere, coalition sources said, and there are signs that the fractious forces of the anti-Houthi alliance are fragmenting.

Meanwhile, the Houthis face what the UN says is a famine in their territory. And have seen their local uprising now harnessed to Iran's geopolitical struggle for regional dominance with Saudi Arabia.

Support from Tehran has been militarily useful but may prove strategically dangerous, trapping the Shia Houthis into a status of perpetual enemy to their Sunni neighbors.

So both sides may find the US calls for a ceasefire convenient and allow a degree of face-saving as neither can be accused of suing for peace themselves.

A positive, if unintended, consequence of the murder of a Saudi journalist who, ironically, has criticized his government's campaign in Yemen.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Florence
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Fayetteville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Scottsboro
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 21679

Reported Deaths: 356
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson489460
Shelby4718107
Trousdale13934
Rutherford111622
Sumner85245
Hamilton71915
Bledsoe6081
Williamson53310
Putnam4615
Robertson4412
Tipton4303
Lake4130
Wilson3878
Out of TN3794
Knox3575
Bedford2744
Montgomery2613
Rhea1980
Hardeman1940
Madison1752
Loudon1370
McMinn13614
Macon1243
Cheatham1180
Cumberland1111
Dickson1100
Fayette1102
Bradley1081
Blount893
Maury810
Sevier762
Washington750
Coffee680
Unassigned670
Wayne630
Gibson611
Monroe612
Sullivan602
Hickman570
Lauderdale561
Dyer500
Franklin491
Greene482
Anderson391
Marion381
DeKalb370
Grundy321
Hawkins312
Haywood302
Smith301
Hamblen302
Henry300
Marshall301
White300
Obion281
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Meigs260
Overton260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Lawrence240
Warren220
Cocke200
Carter191
Jackson170
Morgan170
Cannon170
Campbell171
Roane160
Crockett162
Perry160
Johnson160
Polk150
Sequatchie150
Henderson140
Humphreys131
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
McNairy120
Scott110
Stewart110
Hardin112
Claiborne90
Houston80
Benton71
Grainger60
Clay60
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Unicoi40
Moore30
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events