How to punish Saudi Arabia

Stop supporting the Saudi war in Yemen. The war in Yemen is where the Saudis are most exposed to U.S. leverage. It has been a senseless catastrophe. Ten thousand people have been killed and millions displaced, and it might lead to the worst famine in a century. The U.S. has, appallingly, provided direct support to Saudi Arabia under both Presidents Trump and Obama. Washington should take the opportunity to undo this awful complicity by withdrawing logistical and intelligence support.

Step back from the Saudi-Iran regional conflict. Trump has an opportunity to rebalance his regional policy in the coming weeks. Post-nuclear deal sanctions come back in full force on November 4, but the administration has remained vague or contradictory on important details, such as whether it will grant sanctions exemptions for some oil sales or how it will work to make allowed humanitarian trade practical. By taking modestly less aggressive positions in the coming weeks, the U.S. could distance itself from another example of aggressive Saudi policy and reduce U.S. dependence on the Saudis for stabilizing oil markets as Iranian exports are reduced. A more moderate line would have ancillary benefits, as well, such as minimizing friction with European and Asian allies and reducing the harm done to Iranian civilians.