SANA’A, Yemen — The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues to devastate millions as the country enters its sixth year of civil war. The conflict has left Yemen struggling to address widespread food insecurity, disease and inadequate healthcare. According to the United Nations, 80% of the country is in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Since 2017, the United States has given $721 million dollars in foreign assistance to Yemen. However, this aid does not cover up the fact that the U.S. has benefited from the conflict in Yemen for years. When war broke out in 2015, the U.S. government supported the Saudi coalition by selling weapons to the Kingdom. Over the five years of war so far, American companies have made billions in profits from the Yemen War.
Overview of the U.S. Involvement
From the onset of the war in 2015, the Obama Administration supported Saudi intervention in Yemen. However, as Saudi air campaigns began to worsen the humanitarian crisis and increased civilian deaths, several Congressional representatives and senators became wary of the partnership. After a Saudi airstrike killed 140 people at a funeral home in Yemen’s capital city in late 2016, the Obama Administration began to limit their military support to Saudi Arabia.
President Donald Trump entered office in 2017, which led to increasing support for the Saudi-led coalition. By May of that year, Trump lifted Obama’s limitations on the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Trump believes that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are essential to the U.S. economy. Consequently, he was motivated to restore the Saudi-U.S. partnership.
Profiting U.S. Companies
Trump’s economic focus in dealing with the conflict in Yemen has allowed several American companies to make billions of dollars in profits from the Yemen War. The companies that have benefited the most include Raytheon, General Dynamics and Boeing.
Raytheon and General Dynamics are both U.S. defense corporations that have sold five billion dollars and $1.3 billion dollars, respectively, of arms to the Saudi-led coalition. Weapon remnants from each company were found in the wreckage of numerous airstrikes throughout Yemen. In the first two years of the conflict alone, pieces of Raytheon weapons were found at 12 different sites where innocent civilians were attacked.
Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers criticized Trump’s support of the Saudi-led coalition. In 2019, President Trump made an emergency declaration facilitating the sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval. Shortly after, the Senate introduced 22 joint resolutions to block this action. Leaders were frustrated with both the President’s overstep of Congress and his lack of attention toward the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Republic Senator Todd Young of Indiana stated in response to the declaration: “The ongoing humanitarian crisis and complicated security environment in Yemen requires our sustained attention and we cannot permit U.S. military equipment to worsen the situation on the ground.”
The Senate eventually voted to block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia; however, the President used his veto power to override that decision. Ultimately the declaration succeeded in granting U.S. companies another eight billion dollars in profits from the Yemen War.
The Senate eventually voted to block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. However, the President used his veto power to override that decision. Ultimately the declaration succeeded in granting U.S. companies another $8 billion dollars in profits from the Yemen War.
– Mary Kate Langan