In the wake of the total surrender of the Yemeni government to Iran-allied Houthi rebels, the U.S. State Department has had only one profoundly unhelpful message: We don’t know what we’re doing, and neither do you, so refrain from speculating about it. This message was delivered to Washington reporters by seasoned State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki as the resignation of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi (pictured) was unfolding and his home was being shelled. As quoted by the New York Times: “We’re not in a position — and I don’t think any of you are either — to assess what it means at this point in time.”
Despite Jen’s terse instructions not to think about it, I’d wager there are many good conclusions that we can draw from the events in Yemen. One is the simple fact that this is a spectacular failure for the Obama White House and its policies in the Middle East. The other is the nature of the striking betrayal that happened in the final hours of the collapse. According to Sebastian Usher, BBC:
The resignation of the Yemeni president and his government is likely to plunge an already unstable country into uncharted territory.
It comes just a day after a deal was announced between the president and the Houthi rebels that was meant to paper over the sharpest edges of the current crisis.
The rebels received the concessions they demanded. For their part, they were meant to withdraw from the presidential palace and from Mr Hadi’s own house, as well as releasing a presidential aide they abducted last week.
They have done none of this. Mr Hadi and his government say they cannot continue under such conditions. Yemen was already close to chaos – now it seems it has no president and no government.
I’m not referring to the obvious betrayal of the Houthi rebels. Everyone knew they would not keep any agreements after they had gained the upper hand militarily. What I mean by betrayal is that Hadi’s government followed the recipe of appeasement that the U.S. State Department forced on them. Giving the rebels everything they wanted and then expecting them to back off was Obama’s strategy, and the Hadi government followed the script to perfection. Now they have paid for it with their utter destruction. My question is, who will hold the U.S. State Department accountable for this failure? The Yemeni government that they supported is now in no position to do so.
Cross-posted at Diogenes and PoliNation.