What the hell is happening in Washington today? Hours after officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a pointless, incendiary symbolic gesture that will cost lives in the Middle East and possibly America, Trump has demanded that Saudi Arabia lift their blockade of Yemen:
The Saudis' blockade is a heinous human rights violation perpetrated on an entire nation, and has caused widespread starvation and death in war-torn Yemen. It prevents humanitarian aid from reaching the country, which is also being bombed by Saudi Arabia (using American-bought weapons) and is in the midst of a civil war which has cost the death of approximately 5,000 civilians. There are now more than three million refugees in the country, and one million Yemenis have contracted cholera. The UN recently warned that 125,000 children are on the brink of starvation. The Saudis' have intensified their bombing campaign in recent days following the assassination of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former president who had once been allied with the Houthi rebels, but had recently made peace overtures to the Saudis.
The point is, ending the blockade is the right thing to do. Which, no sarcasm, makes it so surprising that Trump is doing it—this is the guy who was feted by the Saudis when he visited, and who used one of his first actions as president to okay a (disastrous) operation in Yemen. There was no indication that his tenure would look any different from Obama's, which included arms deals and all kinds of logistical support. And, of course, Obama's people are mad:
The question is, why is he doing it? Some are positing that it’s a pre-emptive distraction from whatever the FBI is about to drop. But at this point, it’s a mystery—it’s rare for any sitting president to take such action against Saudi Arabia, our second-most reliable ally in the Middle East after Israel, and for Trump to do so now is just mind-boggling.