In Yemen, No End in Sight to the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

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Five articles from the past year that explain how the quagmire in Yemen sparked fierce political battles in Washington as millions teeter on the brink of starvation.

After six years of conflict, Yemen remains mired in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with a Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi militias in a grueling proxy war of Middle East rivals that has left millions of people on the brink of famine. United Nations-brokered negotiations between the warring factions have started, sputtered, and stalled numerous times, leaving the country in a grim limbo with no clear offramp for a lasting peace agreement. Meanwhile, top U.N. officials are warning that international donors have given barely half of what aid groups say is needed to supply the embattled civilian population with food, medicine, and other life-saving humanitarian assistance.

In Washington, the conflict in Yemen has sparked some of the most intriguing political fights in the Trump administration, as a coalition of conservative Republican and progressive Democratic lawmakers banded together to try to halt U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition and reassert Congress’s war power authorities. 

Yet President Donald Trump has repeatedly vetoed or fended off legislation aimed at completely halting U.S. military support or at restricting presidential authorities to greenlight military actions abroad without prior congressional approval. Congress also launched investigations into the Trump administration’s expedited arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another Gulf power engaged in the conflict against the Houthis, leading to public sparring between top Trump diplomats and lawmakers. 

President-elect Joe Biden could alter U.S. policy on Yemen, bringing an end to the battles in Washington—but the conflict there still has no end in sight.

Foreign Policy

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