A Houthi arms depot explodes after it was hit by air strikes in Sana'a, Yemen, January 31, 2018
Khaled Abdullah / REUTERS

The war in Yemen has been a disaster for U.S. interests, for Saudi interests, and above all for the Yemeni people. It has sparked the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe: tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and 14 million people are at risk of starvation. It has been a strategic blunder as well, producing the exact results the Saudi-led military campaign was designed to prevent. The Houthis are more militarily sophisticated and better able to strike beyond Yemen’s borders than they were at the start of the war; Iranian influence has expanded; and the relationship between the Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah has only deepened. Although the United Arab Emirates has waged an effective battle against al Qaeda in Yemen, terrorism remains a grave threat.

For three and a half years, Saudi Arabia has insisted, with diminishing credibility, that military victory was imminent; and for just as

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  • JEFFREY FELTMAN is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs from July 2012 until April 2018 and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2009 to 2012.
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