5 Takeaways on U.S. Involvement in the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

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Long before the coronavirus caused human suffering and economic chaos worldwide, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world occurred in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, and one of these countries were caught up in the civil war.

A total of approximately 100,000 people, including more than 12,000 civilians, were killed in the conflict in which the Yemeni government, supported by Saudi Arabia, is fighting Iranian-oriented Houthi rebels. Control of the northern parts of the country five years ago.

For many, the cause of death was not an illness, but bombs supplied by American companies and sold to the Saudi coalition by American officials.

The New York Times investigated how and why the guns killed civilians – at funerals, in town squares, even on a school bus – in two US administrations. These are some of the results.

Mr. Trump has supported arms deals with the Saudis and their partners and has given benefits to the American economy, even if some of the weapons have been used to strike civilians in the neighboring area Yemen were used.

Not even the murder of the journalist and Jamal Khashoggi, who lived in America and who caused both Democrats and Republicans to end sales to the Saudis, could not change the president’s opinion.

“I want Boeing and Lockheed and Raytheon to take these orders Hire a lot of people to make this incredible equipment,” Trump told Fox Business in 2018 after Mr. Khashoggi was raided at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, killed and had been dismembered.

The approach marks a shift in US foreign policy that raises economic considerations over other concerns. Where foreign arms sales have been primarily offered and held back in the past to achieve diplomatic goals, the Trump administration mainly pursues them for the profits they generate and the jobs they create.

As the number of civilian casualties in Yemen has increased, American officials tried three times to block arms sales to the Saudis, only for their efforts by one The White House intends to reverse foreign transactions.

The Trump administration reversed the first attempt that was launched in the dwindling days of the Obama administration after Mr. Trump announced a massive arms sale package during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

In early 2018, he returned the second attempt by Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee. And it declared an emergency last year to bypass the third attempt by New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, who refused to clear up upcoming arms sales for humanitarian concerns.

The White House referred requests for comment to the National Security Council, in which a spokesman said the US is supporting the defense of Saudi Arabia after attacks by “Iran and its Houthi representatives” in Yemen and “all appropriate.” Call for measures to “prevent civilian casualties”.

“This White House was more open to the defense industry than any other living memory,” said Loren B. Thompson, a longtime analyst, and advisor to major arms manufacturers.

The people most responsible for this stance include Trump’s combative trade advisor Peter Navarro, whose mission was to boost American manufacturing inning with the defense industry.

Mr. Navarro, an economist and former university professor who advised Mr. Trump’s election campaign in 2016, appeared as a defender of defense companies during the White House discussions about arms sales. He often highlighted the importance of sales to Saudi Arabia, sometimes while repeating the points of discussion used by the companies themselves, former administration officials said.

In an interview, Mr. Navarro said he advocated economic policy on behalf of Mr. Trump, not companies. “I didn’t get involved because of a defense company,” he said. “I advocate the President and the American workers, as well as our men and women in uniform.”

American arms manufacturers who sell to the Saudis say they are accountable to shareholders and have done nothing wrong. They also say that arms sales to foreign governments that need to be approved by the State Department don’t do politics, they just follow.

As the Yemen crisis worsened, at least one company, Raytheon Company, went to great lengths to influence American decision-making, even after members of Congress tried to stop selling it for humanitarian concerns.

The company, which has had sales of more than $ 5 billion to the Saudis and their partners since Yemen. The war began, wooed Mr. Navarro, who intervened with officials from the White House and the State Department.

He also sought the help of a lobbyist who attended West Point with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper worked for Raytheon before he entered the administration.

Addressed half a dozen times, Raytheon representatives declined to speak to reporters about overseas sales.

A State Department spokeswoman in one state The government “made it clear that economic security is national security,” and said that training programs with arms partners had increased the focus “on human rights.”

President Barack Obama oversaw his own arms flow to the Middle East, including weapons that the Saudis used in the Yemeni war under Obamas Observation started.

Former Obama officials have since regretted not only arms sales but also approval to support the 2015 war waged by Saudi Arabia.

“People are always misjudging,” Steve Pomper, a former senior official at the State Department, said in an interview. “But it struck me when I was thinking about my time in the Obama administration that we not only got involved in this escapade but that we didn’t pull ourselves out.”

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