A Saudi-Led Coalition Has Killed Thousands of Civilians in Yemen. Where’s the Outrage?

Sept. 24 2015

An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is conducting a military campaign in Yemen that shows few signs of coming to an end soon. Aaron David Miller compares international reactions to this war with those to last year’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza:

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes this weekend against Houthi rebel-controlled government buildings and residential neighborhoods in Yemen’s capital that killed dozens. But in contrast to reactions to Israeli actions in Gaza, the international community—including the U.S.—has largely ignored civilian casualties in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, including when it involves bombing urban areas. . . .

During the Hamas-Israel conflict in Gaza last summer, Israel killed an estimated 2,100 Palestinians. The Israeli government says that 750 to 1,000 of those were Hamas fighters. Since March of this year, the United Nations estimates that the Saudi-led airstrikes and artillery strikes in Yemen have killed more than 2,000 civilians and wounded 4,000 others. . . . The Saudi campaign has [also] created a humanitarian crisis in the region’s poorest Arab state: an estimated 21 million people (roughly 80 percent of Yemen’s population) need assistance. . . .

The Saudis confront in Yemen the same challenge Israel has faced in Gaza: how to deal with combatants who fire from urban areas using civilians for cover. But Riyadh seems to have less regard for civilian casualties and hasn’t been held accountable the way Israel is for such injuries and death. . . . [T]his puts the Obama administration in an untenable position. Yes, Washington is Israel’s key supporter and has defended Israel at the United Nations over Gaza. But when it comes to Yemen, the U.S. is supporting the Saudi coalition airstrikes with targeting information, logistics, and other intelligence. Washington has advised the Saudis to set limits on their targets, and U.S. officials expressed concerns as early as April about the campaign’s open-ended nature. Still, the Obama administration has avoided public criticism.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: IDF, Laws of war, Politics & Current Affairs, Protective Edge, Saudi Arabia, Yemen


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy