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Who benefits from unconditional U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia? Experts caution that the U.S. approach to the Yemen war has given AQAP weapons flows, military support, and fodder for extremism, while emboldening Iran by driving rebel factions under Iranian control.


“By catering to the Saudis in Yemen, the United States has empowered al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, strengthened Iranian influence in Yemen, undermined Saudi security, and brought Yemen closer to the brink of collapse.”

Richard Sokolsky and Perry Cammack, Carnegie

Continued US support for Saudis & Hadi government inadvertently aids AQAP:

  • Bruce Reidel, Brookings, former CIA: “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been a beneficiary of the war… As long as the war continues, AQAP will find plenty of ungoverned space to thrive in and plenty of angry Yemeni recruits.”

  • Kate Brannen, Atlantic Council: “In their fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and its Saudi backers, have worked with local actors with suspected ties to al Qaeda. Sometimes this means the targets being tracked by the US are actually cutting deals and getting their hands on weapons thanks to connections they have with the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition, to which the US provides support.”

  • AP: “The leader of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said that his militants have often fought alongside Yemeni government factions — remarks that could embarrass the US-backed coalition fighting the impoverished Arab country’s Shi’ite rebels…. Al Qaeda has emerged as a de facto ally of the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his backers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, against Houthis in a civil war that has wreaked devastation and killed over 10,000 since late 2014.”

US military escalation in Yemen emboldens Iran:

  • Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Bush Admin: “Saudi Arabia’s rival Iran, too, benefits from the prolonged conflict. Iran has provided some support to the Houthis, but far less than Saudi Arabia and its partners have claimed. Iran seems to see the war as a low-cost way to mire Saudi Arabia and its allies in a quagmire in which each day brings fresh military, financial and reputational costs.”  

  • Katie Zimmerman, American Enterprise Institute: “Giving more bullets and bombs to the Saudis will make things worse, rather than better, in Yemen, which is now facing a mammoth humanitarian crisis a la Syria. Moreover, it is likely to drive Yemeni rebel factions even further under Iranian control, and enable the Saudis to continue to ignore a growing threat in Yemen from ISIS and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).”

Take action to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s Yemen war:


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End U.S. Complicity in Saudi-Led Yemen War

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Kate Gould

Kate Gould

Legislative Director, Middle East Policy
Kate Gould served as FCNL’s Legislative Director for Middle East Policy. Kate was one of only a handful of registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. working to advance human rights objectives and support diplomatic solutions to resolve disputes between the U.S. and Iran and the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Israel/Palestine.

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