A flotilla of Egyptian cargo ships, part of the United Nations’ regular surge of food and medicine convoys to the besieged Lebanese port city of Bekaa Valley, brought a pause to the usual crisis. But even when everything arrived safely from Italy and Croatia, the supply chain was completely undermined. The Egyptian ships were all told not to dock on Lebanese soil. That meant the regular flow of medicines and cash to an estimated two million internally displaced people in Syria that residents depend on was drastically reduced. And with aid cuts by Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s devastating bombing campaign against Yemen, Lebanon’s dairy and medical industries were also crippled. The grinding war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced at least nine million since 2015. In addition to a 22-month-old Saudi-led air campaign, which has killed about 4,000 civilians, the Saudi-led coalition, with American support, has repeatedly bombed the humanitarian facilities of Yemen’s international aid lifeline, the United Nations World Food Program.
Even in a calm year, such action undermined a 2013 cease-fire agreement that brought the war between the Saudi-backed Shiite rebels known as Houthis and the Saudi-backed Sunni government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to an end. The sanctions ban on the waterways between Lebanon and Syria has helped the conflict in that country metastasize and the problems are set to get much worse. The only resupply of trucks in Homs, the Syrian heartland of the ISIS or the former al-Qaeda affiliate, came from neighboring Jordan, months after the loss of the Jordanian government’s food assistance. Like Lebanon, Jordan was granted access to its border waters to rebuild the supply of food and medicine. The primary aim for the embargo was the reconstruction of Syria after the war, although there are also criminal charges that the first step was to starve the population.