The Trump administration’s decision to push Saudi Arabia to bring the war in Yemen to an end and lift its blockade of Qatar is overdue. These were costly misadventures that should have been halted already. Now that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has weakened the hand of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the architect of both policies, there’s a better chance that outside pressure will succeed.

The war in Yemen has been a humanitarian calamity. Now in its fourth year, it has killed at least 10,000, and put 14 million, nearly half the population, on the brink of starvation. It has aggravated the global refugee crisis, divided the Arab world, and hobbled the military forces of the Saudi-led coalition.

The original objective – to defeat the Houthis, a rebel militia loosely backed by Iran, which had ejected a pro-Saudi government from Sanaa – is no closer to being realized. The Houthis retain control of the Yemeni capital, and their relationship with Iran has, if anything, deepened.

Next week, the U.S. will impose crippling new sanctions – the clearest expression so far of the Trump administration’s determination to constrain Iran’s rulers. The crown prince can prove his own commitment to that cause by starting to undo two of his biggest mistakes.


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