On Sept. 28, the same day President Barack Obama addressed world leaders before the U.N. General Assembly, warplanes from a U.S.-backed Saudi coalition struck a wedding party in Yemen. The attack killed as many as 135 people near the port city of Mokha and raised concerns about the possible perpetration of war crimes in Yemen.
At the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council has devoted little attention to the impact that coalition airstrikes have had on civilians in Yemen. The United States — which frequently condemns the Syrian government’s use of barrel bombs in heavily populated neighborhoods — has registered virtually no public outrage over the Saudi-led coalition’s apparently indiscriminate bombing raids in Yemen. Obama didn’t even mention Yemen in his U.N. speech, which faulted Russia’s military intervention in Syria on behalf of a government that stands accused of killing the vast majority of the more than 200,000 people who have died in Syria’s civil war.
U.S. support for a military campaign that is inflicting extreme hardship on civilians in one of the Mideast’s poorest countries provides an awkward counterpoint to the Obama administration’s stated commitment to stand up for the region’s oppressed people. At the dawn of the Arab Spring, Obamavowed to oppose “the use of violence and repression against the people of the region” and to support “the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people.” […]