Biden, Trump, Big Oil, and the War in Yemen

An F-35 aircraft. (Axel Schmidt/Reuters)

The Biden Administration has recently approved the sale of weapons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the tune of $23 billion. The sales include F-35 aircraft, armed drones and other equipment. The UAE needs these weapons to continue attacking the people of Yemen as part of the “Yemeni Civil War.” Actually, this is much more than a civil war, as it involves over a dozen countries, and at the root of it is the question that has been the order of the day since oil became the foundation of the capitalist economy over a century ago: which group of capitalists gets to control the oil-rich countries of the Middle East?

This “civil war” in Yemen started in late 2014, when the U.S. and Saudi-backed government was driven out by the Houthis, a religious and political movement allied with Iran. A coalition of states bent on restoring the old regime was quickly formed to oust the Houthis from the capital and surrounding territories in Yemen. It includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and ten other states in the Middle East and Africa and is armed by the U.S. and the U.K. As is often the case, the private U.S. mercenary corporation Academi (formerly Blackwater) is participating as well. The attacks include a blockade of Houthi territory that has driven over half of the 29-million Yemeni population to extreme poverty. Over 100,000 Yemeni civilians have already been killed.

We have heard about the “hypocrisy” of the Trump Administration as it approved the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two primary belligerents against Yemen, considering the huge humanitarian crisis caused by this war. Amnesty International has reported that the UAE military involvement in Yemen includes “detention at gunpoint, torture with electric shocks, waterboarding, hanging from the ceiling, sexual humiliation, prolonged solitary confinement, squalid conditions, inadequate food and water.” And this is on top of the bombing and indiscriminate killing of civilians. But now, the Biden Administration is doing the exact same thing as its predecessor. In his first foreign policy speech, Biden announced that “the war in Yemen must end.” How is it going to end if the U.S. politicians continue to supply the weapons that are tearing Yemen apart? We should not let this hypocrisy confuse us. There is nothing inconsistent about U.S. foreign policy. The politicians will always secure the profits of the giant corporations that they represent, such as Big Oil. That they have to lie to the public about it is just par for the course.