December 16, 2022

Congress missed an opportunity to ask the right questions on Yemen

Originally published in The Hill

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism recently held a hearing on the situation in Yemen, a chance to ask the right questions about what the U.S. is doing to advance its interests in the region. Yemen — a country that always seems to be in crisis but never topping the list of crises affecting American national security — rarely gets floor time in Congress. Mostly, discussion of Yemen surfaces in the context of Saudi Arabia’s role in the war, which has dragged on for eight years, and the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship. While the hearing was valuable generally, Congress missed the opportunity to push the Biden administration on its theory of success in Yemen.

Yemen’s conflict is complex and mostly out of the news, making it difficult to follow and even more difficult to evaluate the administration’s messaging on the conflict. Not to add that for most Americans, Yemen and its issues have again fallen off the map. Yemen’s location south of Saudi Arabia along the Bab al Mandab, a strategic maritime choke point, means the United States has a permanent interest in ensuring that developments within the country do not threaten maritime security or the stability of the Gulf. The playing out of the Iranian-Saudi conflict — Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) backs the Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition backs the internationally recognized Yemeni government — further complicates ending the civil war. An active al Qaeda group — the one that has tried to strike the U.S. multiple times in the past — remains present in Yemen’s southeast. And finally, the conflict exacerbates Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, one of the world’s worst.

Read more in The Hill