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The U.S. Has No Legal Standing in Its Involvement in the War on Yemen

1 Yemen War
Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Yemen is proving what should be clear by now: President Trump may never make good on his bold campaign promise of less senseless wars overseas. Watch as Trump defers to ‘the Generals’ to double-down on a bad Obama bet.

This week, we learned that the US Department of Defense, led by General James Mattis, would like to increase its support for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf accomplices, in their effort to continue to further destabilize and bomb Yemen, followed by the installation by force of a US and Saudi-friendly regime in that country.

Following over 2 years of hostilities against Yemen, Mattis has also decided to ask Congress for help in drafting some sort of authorization to give the US some legal standing in its continual involvement with this war. Mattis is erroneously bundling the issue of Yemen into both Syria and Iraq, claiming that this is somehow part of the “the fight against ISIS“.

What is it about Yemen that makes it such a gaping blind spot for members of the US government, its diplomatic corps and the US mainstream media?

Fact: On its face, the joint Saudi-US War on Yemen is illegal under both US and International Law (see US legal analysis below).

With that in mind, shouldn’t every person in the US, from the Obama Administration forward and including the Department of Defense, the Pentagon, the CIA and so on, who has been involved in prosecuting this illegal, undeclared war of aggression – be indicted and charged with high crimes?

Is the United States not a nation of laws, as so many politicians and pundits proudly proclaim to their public over the airwaves each and every day? Are we really a nation of laws?

Or is Washington DC merely a nation of self-inflated, self-reverential hypocrites? 

“In a nutshell the Saudis, Emiratis and the USA are inflicting a war of genocide against the Houthis,”  (University of Illinois Professor of International Law, Francis Boyle)

So what is the Trump Administration’s solution to this collapsing situation? Of course, more sanctions. 

Because this war was initiated under President Obama, left-leaning and liberal media outlets and Democratic Party operators were bound to an unofficial regime of silence on the issue  of Yemen – hence, almost zero media coverage or commentary throughout 2015-2016. It was sufficient to focus only on Syria, and even then to streamline all mainstream media talking points with foreign policy directives from US State Department. With Syria, just look at the media coverage over the last 6 years and overlay it with the US State Department and British Foreign Office narratives. Totally seamless.

For the US political right-wing and the Pentagon-oriented news outlets like CNN, the War on Yemen was simply reduced down to a binary argument, blaming the entire affair on Iran, claiming that the “Iranian-backed Houthis” were the primary antagonists. By framing it in the Iran-centric geopolitical context – and not the true context of US-Saudi aggression and a battle to control some of the regions most lucrative untapped oil and gas reserves – it served to somehow justify the organized, international crime which has been taking place. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was always careful to inject the correct qualifier (as he always does) of “Iranian-backed Houthis” when covering Yemen. By framing it as an Iranian plot, US neoconservatives also reinforced the operation as “good for Israel,” which by extension means its in US national interest by virtue of the neoconservatives doctrine.

Since the War on Yemen began in March 2015, rather than reporting on the carnage and pressuring the US government to recuse itself from its daily military role backing of Saudi Arabia, the mainstream media foreign policy gatekeepers and CFR members like CNN’s Fareed Zakaria have instead opted to ignore the conflict as much as possible, opting instead to continue pushing more fake news and extravagant lies spun regarding Aleppo along with other aspects of the other illegal US operation arming international terrorists in Syria.

Members of the media should be ashamed of themselves, but that assuming the word shame still exists in their lexicon. By now, it should be clear that they simply do not care. 

While the establishment and auxiliary CFR public relations mascots like George Clooney have been crusading for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ‘take urgent action’ against ‘the bad guys’ in places like South Sudan (a CIA project from the onset) and fawning over the US-UK government joint project and pseudo-NGO fraud known as the White Helmets in Syria, the United States government and its partners Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and of the course the United Kingdom – have been allowed to get away with one of the most obvious and egregious, mass violations of international law and collective murder in modern history.

In short, all the establishment and Deep State players; in Washington, the UNHRC (bought-off by Saudi Arabia), the mainstream media, Hollywood, and across the billion dollar think-tank industrial complex – have all colluded through their collective inaction and media censorship – in perpetrating an long-running and obvious international crime against humanity in Yemen. Add to this, holding in contempt the concept of the modern nation-state as it pertains to Yemen, by colluding in a violent, neocolonial fashion with the express intent to deny the Yemeni people their right to sovereignty.

“To compare Saudi Arabia’s belligerent actions in Yemen to Nazi Germany’s undeclared wars of aggression prior to WWII is no exaggeration. In fact, one could make the argument that this Saudi-US joint venture is much worse, and a far more dangerous precedent. Likewise, the failure of a corrupt UN (who effectively sold Saudi Arabia its seat as the head of the UN Human Rights Council ), led by an impotent Secretary General in Ban-ki Moon, to censure Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violation of international law, the Nuremberg Principles and the entire Geneva Convention content and implied framework – leaves the UN in the exact same position as the League of Nations in 1938. This is most certainly the case on paper, and with each passing moment we are nudging ever closer to geopolitical déjà vu.” (Vanessa Beeley, 21WIRE, Oct 13, 2016)

The following is a professional analysis, from a US legal perspective. The case is clear, and non-contestable under the current provision in both US and international law…

Yemen Taiz
Yemeni resident in Taiz, who lost everything after another Saudi airstrike.

The Moral Case for Restraint: U.S. Should Stop Supporting the War in Yemen

Trevor Thrall & John Glaser

After almost a year of bombings, Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe. Over 6,000 Yemenis have been killed [an extremely conservative estimate] —half of them civilians. According to a recent United Nations report, the Saudi-led coalition has “conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects,” including refugee camps, hospitals, weddings, and mosques. Saudi bombing has reduced large tracts of several cities to rubble. Some of the attacks, according to the U.N. panel, could amount to crimes against humanity.

As of this month, over two million people in Yemen are internally displaced, millions lack access to potable water, and thanks to a U.S.-supported Saudi blockade on imports, more than 14 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation.

Throughout, the U.S. has quietly but dutifully lent the Saudis weapons, logistics assistance, and diplomatic cover. It’s time to stop.

The civil conflict in Yemen has its roots in the overthrow in 2011 of long-time U.S.-Saudi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh. In the midst of the unrest, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. supported a political transition to a government headed by President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in which he was the only candidate on the ballot. Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels waged an insurgency against the Hadi government and captured the capital city Sanaa in 2014.

The civil war then morphed into an intractable proxy war when, in March of last year, Saudi Arabia decided to wage a vicious bombing campaign under the pretext of destroying the Houthi rebellion and reinstating Hadi’s beleaguered government. Riyadh views the Houthis as a proxy of Iran, and after the peaceful diplomatic settlement between the U.S. and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, U.S. officials have apparently felt obliged to reassure Saudi Arabia by supporting its war in Yemen.

The problem is that Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen compromises both U.S. interests and its moral standing. Our interests are harmed because undermining the Houthis and contributing to the power vacuum in the country has benefitted the position of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which happens to share Saudi distaste for the Houthis.

The Saudis succeed in garnering U.S. support in part by characterizing the war as a fight against terrorism. But the Saudis and al-Qaeda are actually in an awkward alliance in this fight, making U.S. help even more misguided.

As for our moral standing, by supporting Saudi Arabia’s military action, we are a party to serious war crimes and are indirectly at fault for the devastating humanitarian crisis the people of Yemen now face.

The Saudi intervention clearly violates the just war tenet of jus ad bellum. That tenet dictates that nations not only have a just cause for going to war but also resort to military force only after all other options have been exhausted. Despite Saudi claims to the contrary, the intervention is clearly not a case of self-defense. The notion that Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East (kept afloat primarily by Saudi funds), represents a military threat to Saudi Arabia is absurd. And to argue Saudi bombs are justified to prevent future terrorist attacks is to argue for preventive war, which violates just war theory and the UN Charter.

The Saudis insist that their actions are legal because the legitimate Yemeni government invited military intervention. But the Hadi government hardly deserves the label legitimate. Hadi was elevated to the presidency after serving in Saleh’s autocratic regime as vice president. Once president, Hadi used his position to consolidate power against the Houthis and Saleh loyalists all while misappropriating billions of dollars. A better description would be to call the Hadi government a tool of Saudi Arabia, since Saudi Arabia not only brokered the deal that allowed him to replace Saleh but also enabled him to return to Yemen after the Houthis drove him from the country. Arguing that the Saudis are responding to a call for help is essentially to argue that the Saudis asked themselves to intervene in Yemen.

So, if Saudi Arabia’s argument for intervention is weak, what’s the U.S.’s excuse? Any claim that this is a part and parcel of the war on terror is dubious, considering the bombing of Yemen is, if anything, bolstering Islamic extremists. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia itself is a major exporter of the kind of jihadist ideology that drives groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Even if it were about countering terrorist groups, if the threat to Saudi Arabia from Yemen is remote, the threat to the United States is certainly too small to justify violating the rules of war, international moral norms, and common decency.

Beyond placating overexcited Saudi fears of a U.S. strategic tilt towards Iran, there simply is no moral, legal, or strategic justification for what the U.S. is doing in Yemen.

About the Authors: Trevor Thrall is an associate professor at the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. John Glaser is based in Washington, DC. He has been published in CNN, Newsweek, The Guardian, and The National Interest, among others. 

READ MORE YEMEN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Yemen Files




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  • The Saudi attack on Yemen is super nasty from a humanitarian perspective. It is it one sided in terms of weaponry and wealth, and starvation is effectively being used as a kind of military weapon:

  • Peter Harris

    Hi Patrick.

    Regarding your article in the latest New Dawn magazine.
    You are really becoming a bit of a tedious bore.

    I sent you an email, regarding my thoughts of your previous article in the New Dawn magazine late last year. (I got no reply)
    I’m afraid you becoming a little too hypocritical.

    You are willing to have a crack at the so-called MSM, but at the same time, you’re deliberately avoiding criticising your own paymasters, which is RT.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with much of your sentiments regarding the recent treatment of the last US election by the MSM, however, you are not talking from a point of objectivity, when you yourself have inbuilt biases.

    And its not like there is no material for you to work on.

    There is the compliant Russian media, that dares not speak ill of Vladimir Putin.
    And regarding Putin himself, well it appears that he is just been involved directly, or even indirectly, in the recent death of Denis Voronenkov.

    And not to mention the other Putin critics that wound up dead.
    Is that 10 dead now?

    Any comment Patrick?

    Or, do you have any thoughts about Putin’s nefarious dealings with a select group of Russian oligarchs?

    If I recall, you were also critical of well-known Internet news services, that were exclusively critical of Trump.

    Not true, Tyler Durden down at ZeroHege, was a big cheerleader for Trump.

    Again, I’m not defending the US media, and their easy-going treatment of deep-state politics within the United States, but I find a little galling, when you, as a journalist yourself, are happy to criticise other journalists, cannot be more objective, specifically, not having a willingness to criticise all media, including your paymasters at RT, and their bias towards Putin himself.

    I mean, it’s not like there is nothing to criticise RT about, in the same vein you criticise mainstream media in United States about.

    Just one example, is when RT promulgated a story about the number 7, and the connection with downing of Malaysian Airline Flight 17.

    RT ran a story, that the recurrence of the number 7 had a strange link to the aircraft, and therefore may explain why the aircraft crashed.

    Now, I’m open-minded about how the aircraft crashed, but when RT runs stories such as that, I think they are open to be criticised also.

    I hope, in your next New Dawn article, you will show some balls, and spread your criticism to ALL politicians, and all media outlets.

    If not, then you will begin to look fairly foolish, and hypocritical, because you’re making the same mistakes as those who you are criticising.

    You and others in the media remind me of that old George Orwell saying.

    “A well-trained circus animal performs when the ringmaster cracks the whip.
    But a very well-trained animal will perform, even when the ringmaster is not there.”

    • Dear Peter Harris,

      21WIRE editor Patrick does not work for RT, and is not on their payroll or any other payroll. He is independent.

      By lying and engaging in libel, you are only exposing yourself as someone who does not actually care about the issues being discussed here, as your only interest seems to be the defamation of character – based on your own lies you have imagined. By definition, you are TROLLING.

      Please stop.


      • Peter Harris

        “By lying and engaging in libel, you are only exposing yourself as someone who does not actually care about the issues being discussed here”

        A few quick points, to rebut your shrill and fearful response.

        Firstly, I have been here before reading Patrick’s articles.

        Secondly, if I was not interested in the issues discussed here, then I wouldn’t be a subscriber to New Dawn magazine, and instead stick to the mainstream media.

        Thirdly, wouldn’t it have been easier to just respond to all my points I made earlier, instead of just deleting them?
        You will only raise suspicion when you do that.

        After all, I’ve made many valid points.

        All I’m doing is applying the same standards to Patrick, as Patrick would like the mainstream media to apply to, when they write articles on politics.
        As i said, Patrick is hypocritical.

        And 4th, in Patrick’s bio he states; “… and is an independent foreign and political affairs analyst for RT international.”

        What, are you telling me he does not get any gratuity from RT, what so ever?

        Come on!

        You’re just being foolish now.

        And lastly, it’s so easy to dismiss somebody as a troll, when the so-called troll has made a valid argument, and the author finds it convenient just to dismiss any contrary comments as trolling.

        • BTW “Peter Harris” – please show us where exactly as you claim: “Just one example, is when RT promulgated a story about the number 7, and the connection with downing of Malaysian Airline Flight 17.”

          – Where is this report from RT? You made this claim in your first comment.

          • Peter Harris

            That’s a little odd, and incongruous isn’t it?

            You continually delete my original criticisms, and comments, but now you cherry pick one of my comments, seeking an explanation?

            Why do you want an explanation, when you considered my original comments as unworthy of publishing?

            I’ll tell you what, i will make a deal with you.
            You reinstate my original comments, and I’ll be happy to answer that question, along with any other questions.


          • Peter Harris

            What, so no deal?

        • Sorry, you’ve made no valid points at all. You don’t know what you are talking about….

          You clearly have a poor grasp of television – like many other news channels, around the world RT International uses hundreds of VOLUNTEER, UNPAID analysts from around the world on their channels. They come from US, Europe, Middle East, South America, and Asia.

          Is that too difficult to understand? Seriously.

          And you want to be taken seriously?

          You are simply slandering here by making things up which are not true sir. You are TROLLING.

          • Peter Harris

            “You clearly have a poor grasp of television…”


            Don’t make assumptions you cannot back up.

            I do know little about television actually, and how it works behind the scenes.

            I agree, many international stations, use some volunteer journalism, and volunteers for intelligence gathering for news stories, however, when it comes to on-air presenters such as Patrick, who appears on RT regularly, then I think RT’s and Patrick’s arrangement, is little more substantial than that.

            “Is that too difficult to understand? Seriously.

            And you want to be taken seriously?

            You are simply slandering here by making things up which are not true sir. You are TROLLING.”

            As I said, if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn’t be behaving in such a shrill and desperate manner, with absurd comments such as that.

      • Peter Harris

        Oh, and one other point, if I were a troll, then why would I send my criticisms to Patrick directly via his contact page, for his eyes only??

        That’s hardly the behaviour of a troll, because don’t they want as much exposure as possible?

        I got no response whatsoever from Patrick, so i posted my criticisms on he’s comments section, hoping that it may provoke him to have the balls to answer my criticisms.

        • Space Ghost

          hoping that it may provoke him to have the balls to answer my criticisms.

          –that aint trolling?

          • Peter Harris

            What, using the word “balls” is trolling?

            Okay, let’s say courage instead of balls.

            Patrick shows enormous courage to expose the nefarious goings-on within US politics, and the failure of the mainstream media to report on such issues.

            My problem or query, is that why doesn’t Patrick show the same courage, when it comes to Russian politics, and the failure of RT to report on Russian politics openly and fairly?

            After all, there is no shortage of nefarious monkey business going on in Russian politics either.

      • David Slater

        I think your moderator comments are rather harsh. Mr Harris obviously has legitimate concerns over the way in which some reports on here may be biased. He has tried to contact Patrick directly without success. It’s a shame Mr Harris needed to vent his frustration on a story about Yemen, but what else could he do? He randomly chose this story to place his comment. I for one believe Mr Harris is not a troll. I have similar frustrations with some sites. Please do not do what the BBC and CNN has done to RT on several occasions recently – refuse to answer! Hopefully, even Mr Harris will see that Patrick is independent and a great person, albeit with natural biases towards those who have the same outlook, such as RT.

        • Peter Harris

          “It’s a shame Mr Harris needed to vent his frustration on a story about Yemen…”

          Well, that was not my intention.

          I 1st published my criticisms of Patrick on this story, which I thought was an appropriate place to post my comments. but those comments were continually deleted.

          ‘The 2017 Horace Greeley Award for Best Fake News Journalist’

          The moderators claim that Patrick has no financial ties with RT, is plainly absurd, for one simple reason.

          If Patrick is willing to be critical of deep state politics, and the compliant MSM within the United States (which I agree with his comments on those issues), then surely Patrick can apply the same rigourous criticisms to Russian politics, and the media that covers those politics.

          And to my knowledge, he’s diligently avoided criticising anything to do with Russia.
          So it begs the question, as to why?

          • tapatio

            You are stretching very hard for conclusions. Your own bias is pretty obvious.

          • Peter Harris

            How do you know tapatio?

            My original comments have been deleted, therefore you haven’t read them, so i don’t know why you can say it’s “pretty obvious.”

          • tapatio

            The writers of most articles are not going to respond to “bloggers”. They generally don’t have time to respond to all of the remarks, criticisms, etc.

            Your comment of “……..may provoke him to have the balls to answer my criticisms.”, below, was a good indication.

            Another was the fact that you think that articles/writers should treat the entire universe of a subject, rather than one area. Whining that Patrick doesn’t criticize Russia for the things that he criticizes the Rothschild-Bilderberg cartel’s minions for doing is ludicrous.

            This article is on US Saudi crimes in Yemen. It has nothing to do with something Russia or Indonesia or Madagascar might or might not be doing elsewhere.

          • Peter Harris

            “Another was the fact that you think that articles/writers should treat the entire universe of a subject…”

            I’m not sure i understand your point.
            I think all writers should be consistent.

            “This article is on US Saudi crimes in Yemen. It has nothing to do with something Russia…”

            And it wasn’t my intention to have this discussion, on this thread discussing the war in Yemen.

            If you read my comments above, you’ll realise why.

            Also, my original comments were based on Patrick’s articles that appear in the magazine I subscribe to in Australia.

            Just a few points from 21stcenturywire’s own mission statement.

            “…independent hyper blog offering bold news, views and media analysis…”

            Does that exclude “bold” comments from your readers?

            “…as well as provide much-needed independent commentary, news reporting, including criticisms and critiques of larger corporate and foundation-funded media outlets and their coverage.”

            And that does not include RT?

            “we try to offer a historical perspective on contemporary issues and where possible, provide strategic reference links throughout our content — allowing you the reader to delve deeper into the issues — if you so choose…”

            And i do, but I choose to delve deeper into the issues, and motivations around one of the authors, Patrick Henningsen.

            And this is the funniest part.

            “We oppose internet censorship in all its forms, especially through opaque regimes of control…”

            Except if you’re a commentator on this website, asking critical questions of 21stcenturywire.

            If you’re wondering why i’m so cynical regarding the collation and dissemination of news, is that I read Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent some years ago, and since that time, it has left me extremely sceptical about everything I hear (or not hear), which includes so-called “independent, free and open” Internet news sites such as this.

          • tapatio

            “Also, my original comments were based on Patrick’s articles that appear in the magazine I subscribe to in Australia”

            Then, complain within the context of the article/magazine in Australia.

            END of discussion!

          • Peter Harris

            No confirmation bias tapatio?

        • “… Mr Harris needed to vent his frustration on a story about Yemen, but what else could he do?”

          You assume a lot about “Mr Harris”. Strangely, you sound as if you know Mr. Harris…

          Very weird.

          • David Slater

            You are now making too many assumptions, and in a style that is embarrasing (for supporters of this site) and again quite rude. I don’t know Peter Harris, if that is his name. But at least he isn’t anonymous like you are. Who are you may I ask? What makes you jump to the conclusions you do?

          • Peter Harris

            “You are now making too many assumptions…”

            And the funny thing is, considering this is a website run by a so-called journalist, is that Patrick, or whoever, could have simlpy just checked your history of comments on Disqus, and found that you and I have not spoken to each other in the past, either on this forum, or other forms.

            And who is the moderator??

            Is it Patrick himself?

          • David Slater

            I’m quite sure this isn’t Patrick. I know him to be a polite and genuine guy.

  • Space Ghost

    There are numerous reports of Houthis fighting ISIS and al-Qeada, not many from the televised corporate news though. The U.S. coverage, in general, is painting with the big brush again… similar to Iraq when there was a broad “counter-insurgency” label slapped on a multitude of groups, sects, causes, uprisings, and so forth.

    However, the U.S. MSM was willing to distinguish between a rebel, and a moderate rebel, for Syria… (sarcasm) but I’m not crossing my fingers here.

  • tapatio

    This is America’s “standing” on the genocide in Yemen……………

  • ram2009

    No legal basis ? When did that ever stop them.