WASHINGTON ― If he wanted to, President Barack Obama could end ― or at least dramatically reduce ― the ongoing slaughter of civilians in Yemen.
Right now, the Saudi-led coalition at war there can direct its jets to spend up to three hours pummeling the starving nation below. If Obama wanted, they might have just minutes instead.
Today, the coalition officials deciding where to drop the bombs can rely on intelligence from U.S. surveillance systems, the most powerful in the world. If Obama wanted, they might run fewer bombing missions because they would have to rely on their own limited targeting data.
At present, the bombs the Saudis and their allies are dropping on hospitals, schools, crowded markets and vital factories are in plentiful supply, and the jets that deliver them are perfectly serviced. But if Obama wanted, those bombers’ capacities could suddenly be severely limited.
Using U.S. support, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen has been responsible for the majority of the 10,000 deaths there since the conflict began 18 months ago ― and a brutal attack on Saturday that has reportedly killed hundreds. It has left more than 28 million people on the brink of famine. And it has allowed militant Islamists ― notably Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is focused on targeting the U.S. ― to seize more influence and room to operate than they have had in years.