The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stood before missile remnants that she claimed were covered in Iranian “fingerprints” on Thursday while laying out what she called “irrefutable evidence” that Tehran has violated its international obligations by militarily supporting rebels in Yemen.
The missile was reportedly launched at Saudi Arabia last month from an area of Yemen that is controlled by Houthi rebels, an Iranian-backed Shiite group that took control of large swathes of Yemen in 2014. Haley accused Iran of supplying the weaponry, and in doing so, defying a U.N. resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.
“It’s hard to find a conflict or terrorist group in the Middle East that doesn’t have Iran’s fingerprints all over it,” she told a news conference, vowing the U.S. will “build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing.”
Pointing at part of the missile behind her, she added: “They are allowing missiles like this to be fired over to innocent civilians.”
While fiercely denouncing Iran, Haley neglected to acknowledge America’s own prolonged role in destabilizing the Middle East through its support of a military offensive that continues to slaughter Yemeni men, women and children.
The U.S. is a powerful international backer of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis that has conducted hundreds of airstrikes on Yemeni soil over the past two and a half years.
Under the leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, coalition airstrikes in Yemen have killed thousands of civilians, according to the U.N., with no end to the military operations in sight. The kingdom admitted last December to using British-made cluster bombs ― known to cause mass civilian casualties and banned by more than 100 countries. Human Rights Watch also accused the coalition earlier this year of committing war crimes and carrying out indiscriminate attacks in Yemen.
The crisis has deteriorated under Saudi Arabia’s month-long blockade of desperately needed aid supplies in Yemen, where nearly 70 percent of the population depends on foreign aid to survive. Some 7 million people in the country are already at risk of starvation, and nearly 1 million have been infected with cholera. The siege has pushed the war-torn country to the brink of “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades,” according to the U.N.
The Saudi-led intervention began in March 2015, while former U.S. President Barack Obama was in power. His administration provided the coalition with arms and logistics support.
Washington has been an even more vocal backer of Saudi Arabia’s regional policies under President Donald Trump, particularly Riyadh’s hawkish posture against Iran and its allies. The Pentagon more than doubled its refueling support for the coalition over the past year, Al-Monitor reported, noting the U.S. supplied more than $1 million worth of aviation fuel.
During an official visit to Saudi Arabia in May, Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh, said to be the largest in American history. (According to an investigation by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, it may never come to fruition.)
Trump also expressed apparent support for Salman’s recent anti-graft crackdown, which has widely been viewed as an attempt to consolidate power. Salman’s sudden purge of scores of high-ranking officials came days after Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, returned from a surprise visit to Riyadh to meet with the crown prince.
In a rare rebuke last week, Trump urged Saudi Arabia to end its blockade in Yemen. “This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately,” the president said, shortly after he sparked outrage across the Middle East by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.