Their American Friends - WSJ

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Pro-Houthi soldiers patrol the streets of Sana’a, Yemen on September 18.


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yahya arhab / Shutterstock

Bernard Lewis, the late great scholar of the Middle East, once joked that while it is dangerous to be America’s enemy, it can be fatal to be its friend. We wonder if this is how the Saudis feel as they ask America for help when it runs out of ammunition to defend itself against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

The Journal reported this week that the Saudis are running low on interceptors against missile and drone attacks on its territory from the Houthis. The two have been waging a war in Yemen for the past seven years, and in one of its first acts this year, the Biden administration cut off the Saudis’ arms for the war in Yemen.

The United States designed it as an olive branch to the Houthis to negotiate an end to the war. Instead, they escalated, stepping up their cross-border attacks into Saudi territory from Yemen. The Houthis are largely supplied by Iran, which sees no need to stop when its proxies win. Drones and missiles are not well targeted and sometimes hit civilian targets if they are not intercepted. There are over 70,000 Americans in the Kingdom who could become victims.

The spectacle here is that of an ally pleading for defensive ammunition from the same United States trying to reassure Ukraine and Taiwan that America will support them in conflicts with Russia or China. The Biden administration is also trying to persuade Iran that it will face serious and unspecified consequences if it continues to pursue a nuclear bomb. President Biden attempted to do the same on Tuesday in a video call with the Russian president

Vladimir Poutine

concerning Ukraine. But an ally who won’t provide his friends with more Patriot anti-missile interceptors is simply not credible in the face of such determined adversaries.

The Saudis aren’t always attractive friends, and they fought the war in Yemen often brutally, but less with the help of American trainers during the Trump years. But in the Saudi Quarter, military choices can be existential.

Better news, the US Senate voted on Tuesday not to block Mr. Biden’s proposal to sell $ 650 million in arms to the Saudis. The sale includes 280 air-to-air missiles, but that shouldn’t prevent filling the Saudis’ additional need for more interceptors against Houthi missiles and drones.

The Senate vote was 30-67 against the resolution by Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Bernie Sanders, who seem to think the world will be a nicer, gentler place if the United States abandons their friends in a fight. The truth is, it is sure to get worse, and in a very bloody way, if the United States does not even provide its friends with the ammunition to defend itself.

Newspaper Editorial Report: Best and Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Jason Riley, Kyle Peterson and Dan Henninger. Composite Reuters / AP / Getty Images: Mark Kelly

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Published in the print edition of December 9, 2021.

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