Sunday 18 November 2018

US 'green light' for Yemen attack will cause humanitarian disaster

Far away from the melee, America may have quietly decided the fate of millions of Yemenis, writes Patrick Cockburn

Hodeidah port's cranes are pictured from a nearby shantytown. Photo: Reuters
Hodeidah port's cranes are pictured from a nearby shantytown. Photo: Reuters

Patrick Cockburn

The Trump administration is guilty of many acts of deliberate cruelty. But just as the world was watching the lead up to the Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting in Singapore last Monday, the US may have sunk even lower by quietly announcing a decision that threatens to kill millions by starvation or disease.

The potential death sentence came in a short press statement by the US press secretary, Mike Pompeo, effectively giving a green light for the UAE to launch its offensive in Yemen aimed at capturing Hodeidah on the Red Sea. The port city is the point of entry for 70pc of food and medical supplies for the eight-million Yemenis whom the UN says are on the brink of starvation out of the 22 million in need of humanitarian aid.

The eagerness of US officials to avoid accusations of complicity in the Hodeidah attack was a sign that they suspect the outcome may be calamitous. Pompeo was deliberately low-key in his three sentence statement about Hodeidah: "I have spoken with Emirati leaders and made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports."

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