The US call for immediate commencement of talks on Yemen with the view to bringing the war to an end is, more than anything else, a pseudo game of pressure that it is playing with Saudi Arabia. In this game, Saudia isn’t a US rival; it is its partner. For one thing, the US president Trump has already made it clear that they wouldn’t stop their defence deals, worth billions of dollars, with Saudi Arabia. US allies, such as the UK, are also following suit. For another, while the US has remained conspicuously silent for years over the atrocities the Saudi-led coalition has been committing in Yemen, the reason why its top officials have only now started to talk about stopping the war in Yemen is the up-coming mid-term elections in the US and the anti-Saudi mood prevailing among the general masses due to the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. As such, by portraying itself as ‘advocates of peace’ rather partners in crime with Saudia, the Trump administration is playing with its voters, and is highly unlikely to take any meaningful action against the House of Saud. It wouldn’t be wrong to say the possibility of such an action is zero.
As such, while James Mattis has said that the killing of Khashoggi was ‘threatening regional stability’, the top US general, CENTCOM Commander Joseph Votel confirmed in his latest interview that the US-Saudi relations are absolutely unchanged and that Saudi Arabia continues to be the most important military ally in the Middle Eastern region. To quote Votel, “there’s no change with any military relationship we have with Saudi Arabia. From the military perspective, I characterize the relationship as strong, deep, and I think a beneficial one for us. They have been an extraordinarily important security partner in the region.”
Even secretary Mattis, who initiated the call for bringing the war in Yemen to an abrupt end, also said at the Manama Dialogue, an annual gathering of Persian Gulf country security leaders, in the presence of the US’ gulf allies including Saudia that the US support for Saudi Arabia would continue unabated. “We do not accept that there is any reason for a slow-down in the effort to bring this to a negotiated end,” he added a day after his meeting with Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubeir.