Donald Trump designating Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist organisation will bring famine and violence to at least 70% of Yemen’s already at-risk population.

 

 

While the Capitol riot is being compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.

The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organisations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalised by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, an atrocity which could not occur without the help of the United States.

We are already seeing some effects of this designation. Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports the following:

“The terror designation will hamper the efforts of international charities that deliver food to Houthi-controlled areas, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives and malnutrition is the most widespread.

“Aid agencies fear their work in north Yemen will now be criminalized since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with and make transactions with. US terror designations open up sanctions on any individuals or entities that do business with those Washington brands as terrorists.

“Pompeo said exemptions would be made for humanitarian goods. But any additional roadblocks for aid agencies will cause more suffering in Yemen since the situation is so dire. ‘Even with exemptions, the operation will be compromised,’ said Janti Soeripto, the president of Save the Children, according to AP News.

“The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls ‘indirect causes’. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls ‘the worst famine the world has seen for decades’.”

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality, the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centres with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on a mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organisation is a punchline completely devoid of humour.

Yet, we’re being fed a steady diet of narratives about the threat Trump’s radicalised base may pose to people of colour, while ignoring the fact that Trump is currently implementing policies which facilitates the brutality of another minority. The only difference is the latter is hidden behind geographical remoteness and is far more egregious.

This move is quantifiably far, far worse than anything Trump could possibly have done to incite the Capitol riot, as it will kill far, far more people, yet we’re fixating on one story while virtually ignoring the other.

This matters.

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