Ken Klippenstein is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin. He writes for the Reader Supported News and his commentaries on the Middle East issues have appeared on Truth Out, Counterpunch, Middle East Eye and other publications.

 The following is the text of FNA’s conversation with him.

Q: Why do you think the United States has supported the invasion of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its crackdown on the Houthis in the south? The United Nations Security Council has also been indifferent towards the plight of the Yemeni people, or at least has preferred to keep aside from the conflict. Why is it so?

A: The US has supported the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen because the US fears the Shiite Houthis that rose to power in Yemen could align with Iran. It is hard to believe that US support for the bombing is motivated by concern for the welfare of Yemenis, since Yemenis have been the main victim of the United States’ illegal drone assassination campaign. The humanitarian crisis brought on by the US-backed bombing is staggering: according to the UN, the offensive has displaced between 120,000 and 150,000 civilians. The attack has also blocked food and other humanitarian supplies from reaching Yemenis. In fact, earlier this week, a coalition bombing destroyed a facility belonging to Oxfam, a humanitarian relief organization. This happened despite the fact that Oxfam provided the coalition with detailed information about its geographical location to ensure it wouldn’t be hit.

Q: Can we interpret Saudi Arabia’s unprompted military intervention in Yemen as part of the new king’s plans for extending the umbrella of Saudi dominance in the Middle East, predicated on a rigid opposition to any kind of self-determination for the Shiites? Isn’t Saudi Arabia fanning the flames of sectarian and inter-religious conflict through its military expedition in Yemen?

A: Saudi Arabia is indeed increasing the likelihood of a serious sectarian conflict, but bear in mind that the US is culpable as well. A headline in The New York Times last week stated, “Sale of US Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States”; the first war the article mentioned was the one against Syria. And that headline is exactly correct: in the case of the assault on Yemen, the US has supplied the UAE with the F-16s they’re using to bomb them. The US supplies Saudi Arabia with the F-15s they’re using for the same purpose. This is in addition to the logistical support the US is providing the coalition in its assault.

Q: It seems like Saudi Arabia is not going to achieve any long-term goal objective through launching airstrikes against Yemen. Its attacks against Yemen simply represent a spontaneous response to the empowerment of the popular Ansarullah movement to prevent them from rising in the political atmosphere of Yemen. Do you agree?

A: It’s unlikely that airstrikes alone, i.e., without ground forces, will succeed in removing the Houthis from power. Consider how ineffective the US air campaign against ISIS has been without sufficient ground support. Due to public opposition, the US is seriously restrained in its ability to deploy further ground troops to combat situations in the Middle East. If the public opposition persists and becomes better organized, the US could continue to be restrained for the foreseeable future.

Q: Although there seems to be a rift in the Arab world regarding the invasion of Yemen, the PGCC member states as well as Egypt have voiced their support for Saudi’s air attacks and have joined the Saudi-led coalition for the war. What could be the goals Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other PGCC member states are pursuing through dynamically backing the war on Yemen?

A: Presumably their motives are that of any other state – to expand their dominance. In this case, the coalition attacking Yemen are Sunni governments, so they don’t want a Shiite state, i.e., the Houthis in control of Yemen since they might align with Iran, another Shiite government.

Q: An important aspect of the crisis unfolding in Yemen is the humanitarian consequences of the Saudi aggression. As you noted earlier, it’s reported that hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been displaced since the beginning of the Saudi airstrikes more than two months ago. How should Yemen face this challenge, especially at a time when there’s no stable central government in Sana’a?

A: The US could perhaps do even more than Yemen to alleviate the humanitarian crisis by simply ending its support for the attack and compelling regional allies like Saudi Arabia to stop the assault. At the very least, this allows humanitarian supply shipments to resume. Given the enormous amounts of military aid that flows from the US to Saudi Arabia, it’s hard to believe that a mere suspension of weapons exports wouldn’t compel the Saudis and others to reconsider their offensive.

Q: Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen has resulted in the resurrection of Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in the country, who are willing to find Yemen in chaos and increase their influence over the Arabian Peninsula. Isn’t it that the Saudis have ignited a fire in which they may eventually get burnt themselves?

A: Saudi Arabia’s attack on the Houthis is a generous gift to al-Qaeda because the Houthis are hated enemies of al-Qaeda. The Saudis are indeed playing with fire in this regard – as is the US for supporting them. Apparently, regional dominance is more important to the Saudis, and by extension the US, than opposing al-Qaeda.