NYT admits Saudi bombing of Yemen could not continue without US support

The editorial board of The New York Times has finally acknowledged what journalists and activists have been saying for well over a year: The Saudi-led coalition’s brutal bombing campaign, which has ravaged Yemen and created a humanitarian catastrophe, would be impossible were it not for US support.

“Experts say the coalition would be grounded if Washington withheld its support,” the US newspaper of record wrote in “America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen,” an editorial published on Aug. 17.

It comes a bit late, considering the US-backed bombing began in March 2015 — and, since then, thousands of civilians have been killed; millions have been displaced; more than half of the country, at least 14 million people, are going hungry; and parts of major Yemeni cities have been pulverized.

But better late than never, I suppose.

“The United States is complicit in this carnage,” the editorial board admitted. “It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis.”

The Times continued:

Although many experts believe the threat to be overstated, Mr. Obama agreed to support the Yemen intervention — without formal authorization from Congress — and sell the Saudis even more weapons in part to appease Riyadh’s anger over the Iran nuclear deal. All told, since taking office, Mr. Obama has sold the Saudis $110 billion in arms, including Apache helicopters and missiles.

Mr. Obama has also supplied the coalition such indispensable assistance as intelligence, in-flight refueling of aircraft and help in identifying appropriate targets. Experts say the coalition would be grounded if Washington withheld its support. Instead, the State Department last week approved the potential sale of $1.15 billion more in tanks and other equipment to Saudi Arabia to replace items destroyed in the war.

The editorial board also recognized a UN report that found the coalition responsible for 60 percent of the deaths and injuries to Yemeni children, along with reports by human rights groups that document war crimes committed by the coalition.

Many of these basic facts — which I and (unfortunately few) other journalists have pointed out over and over again for months in our reporting — have been absent from the Times’ regular reporting on the war.

But at least it eventually got it right, for what it’s worth, if anything at all.