After Peace Talks Fail, Saudi Coalition Reverts to Scorched-Earth Campaign Against Civilians in Yemen – by Ahmed Abdulkareem – MINT PRESS

The Forgotten War

Yemen Hodeida

After UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen and the Saudi coalition in Geneva failed last week, the Saudi-led coalition renewed its offensive to capture Yemen’s strategic port of Hodeida, leaving scores of dead civilians in its wake.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Not long after UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen and the Saudi coalition in Geneva failed last week, the Saudi-led coalition renewed its offensive to capture Yemen’s strategic port of Hodeida. The attacks targeted internally displaced persons, vital facilities and infrastructure– continuing a scorched earth campaign that has left scores of dead civilians in its wake.

“Please doctor, save my mother, she will die!” begged nine-year-old Mohammed as he and his brother Amran stared at their dead mother, who died from injuries sustained when a Saudi airstrike hit their family car Friday on the highway between Hodeida and Sana’a in the Kilo 16 district on the outskirts of Hodeida. The family was attempting to flee to Sana’a.

Lying in blood-stained clothing on a bed in Hodeida Hospital’s emergency room, Mohammed, who hung on to his mother’s purse despite the shrapnel in his hand, recounted the events which led him there:

 

We were moving furniture from our home in Kilo 16 to the truck. When a bomb suddenly hit us. My mother was killed and I, my brother and sister were wounded.”

At least 10 civilians, including women and children, were killed and dozens injured by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Hodeida and Sadaa on Friday. Just two days prior, coalition aircraft bombed Hodeida’s Kilo 16 district, killing 15 civilians and injuring dozens more, most of whom were hit when they were forced to flee down the only road that links Sana’a and Hodeida.

The deadly attacks come after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the Saudi coalition following international pressure after the coalition targeted a school bus full of children.

In a written memo, Pompeo ‘certified’  that the Gulf monarchies waging the war in Yemen were taking “sufficient steps to protect civilians.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”


Read | Pompeo’s unclassified memo on US Military aid to the Saudi coalition


Despite Pompeo’s statements, attacks on civilians show little sign of abatement.

In another fresh attack by the U.S.-backed coalition, ten civilians including women and children were killed when Saudi airstrikes targeted their family home in the village of Hwara in the Ganiyah district on Monday. Three journalists and a guard were also killed when Saudi airstrikes targeted the Hodeida Radio building Sunday, and two were people were killed and one severely injured after a fishing boat off the island of Al-Sawaba was targeted on Saturday.

 

The worst may be yet to come

Five hundred meters south of Kilo 16, where Mohammed family was hit, local mercenaries employed by the Saudi coalition shelled a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) food silo inside the Yemen Company for Flour Mills and Silos (YCFMS).

The UN food storage facility held large quantities of wheat for the WFP and was responsible for milling about a quarter of the wheat flour the agency distributes to some of the hungriest people in the country, according to the UN.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Friday, WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said:

Humanitarian workers, infrastructure and food supplies have been targeted in recent days, as clashes are still ongoing near the Red Sea Mills silos, a critical facility for WFP operations. A mortar shell launched by an unidentified armed group also hit a WFP warehouse in Hodeida city, holding enough food to assist 19,200 people, wounding a guard at the warehouse. The fighting could impact WFP’s ability to supply up to 3.5 million people in dire need in northern and central Yemen for a month.”

Earlier, the chairman of Ansar Allah`s (Houthi’s) Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, warned in a Twitter post that Riyadh had plans to attack food storage facilities and silos across Hodeida under the false pretext that they were being used to store weapons.

The Ministry of Public Health and Population, based in Sana’a, also warned in a statement that the Saudi-led coalition wanted to target UNICEF food stores and World Food Program grain silos in Hodeida, to “push Yemenis to starvation by various means.”

This comes amidst a worsening famine in Yemen which has left thousands of families in many provinces, including Hodeida, with nothing to eat, leaving some to resort to eating the leaves off of trees in an attempt to stave off starvation.

 

Fleeing becomes almost impossible

Like hundreds of families, Mohammed lost his mother when they were driving the Kilo 16 thoroughfare linking the port city of Hodeida to the capital, Sana’a. Serving as the only major road to Sana’a, the thoroughfare has left civilians exposed to deadly coalition attacks as they attempt to flee the fighting in Hodeida.

Houthi Yemen Kilo 16

The road has been difficult to traverse since June 13, when forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a wide-ranging operation to capture Hodeida’s strategic seaport. With airports closed thanks to a coalition blockade, there are no humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee or ambulance crews to transport the wounded to Sana’a. The coalition has also blocked internet access across most of Hodeida, making it almost impossible for residents to contact the outside world.

The coalition claims its attacks on the Kilo 16 thoroughfare are intended to cut off the Houthis’ main supply route but have provided no evidence to back their claim. The Houthis likely do not rely on the asphalt road where they could easily be spotted and targeted by coalition aircraft.

The fighting for Hodeida has effectively shut down the main artery linking the port city to the rest of the country, Save the Children charity said Thursday.

Tamer Kirolos of Save the Children said “it’s quite literally a matter of life and death” for the main road linking Hodeida to the capital Sana’a to remain open adding”

This year alone we expect some 400,000 children under five to suffer from severe acute malnutrition … Unless supply routes remain open this figure could increase dramatically, putting the lives of thousands of children at risk from entirely preventable causes.”

For its part, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has called for the port of Hodeida and the arteries that lead to and from it to remain open. NRC spokesman Jan Engelan said:

Hodeida is not a trophy and its citizens are not toys … A single act of force to disrupt the flow of supplies from Hodeida would be a deadly blow for millions.”

Aid agencies in Yemen have identified close to 500,000 people who had fled their homes in Hodeida between June and August, the NRC said. So far in September, 55,000 people have been displaced across Hodeida, it added, but a large number of civilians are still trapped in their homes.

 

In Hodeida, No guarantee of safety 

UN humanitarian coordinator, Lise Grande, said in a statement on Thursday:

The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few days. Families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes, as the lives of 300,000 inhabitants hang in the balance in the port city.”

“People are struggling to survive,” said Grande. “More than 25 percent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food; and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk.”

Indeed, a family who refused to flee Hodeida were targeted by a Saudi coalition airstrike on Friday, leaving one family member dead and many others wounded. The family, who resided in Hodeida’s al-Zurah district, didn’t have the means to escape the fighting and feared airstrikes targeting the roads leaving Hodeida.

International human rights groups say Saudi Arabia has committed war crimes by using unconventional weapons, conducting hundreds of airstrikes on residential areas, and hitting civilian targets across Yemen.

 

Death from above & everywhere else

Back in Hodeida Hospital’s emergency room, doctors struggle to save Mohammed and Amran after their family car was targeted in a coalition airstrike while trying to flee Hodeida via the Kilo 16 thoroughfare. The boys, both in a great deal of pain owing to serious injuries to their heads, hands and back, risk death from the chronic shortage of medical supplies in Yemen owing to a complete Saudi coalition blockade of the countries airports, seaports and roads.  The blockade has been in effect since the coalition campaign began in 2015.

To make matter worse, over 1,250 days of near-constant airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have reduced Yemen`s hospitals and clinics to rubble and short-circuited its electricity service, while the ruinous blockade has depleted the country’s supply of food and life-saving medicine.

Yemen Famine

Hopes of a UN-brokered agreement to lift the blockade were crushed last week when peace talks between Yemen and the coalition fell through after the UN refused to facilitate the transfer of wounded patients to hospitals outside of Yemen for treatment and to guarantee the safety of a Houthi delegation attending the talks slated to take place in Geneva.

“If the Sana’a negotiating delegation had been allowed to travel to Geneva, I could have saved my father,” said Ahmed Abdul Qadeer. His father, who required a kidney transplant not available in Yemen, was one of several patients scheduled to travel with the Sana’a delegation on September 5.

The United Nations said on Saturday that the situation of children in Yemen is getting worse, not better. Globally, Yemen ranks first in the number of children in need of humanitarian aid. Over 11 million children — 80 percent of the country’s children — are in desperate need of assistance. Social services are barely functioning as the country is on the verge of collapse.

The U.S.-backed military campaign has not only affected children. Civilians across Yemen have suffered immensely from the campaign, which has left thousands of civilians dead, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, and created the conditions for the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

 

Yemen’s resistance shows no sign of surrender

Despite Saudi-led coalition claims of complete control over the Kilo 16 district, including to the main road, Mohammad al-Bukhaiti, a top figure in the Houthi Supreme Political Council, appeared on video Thursday on the Kilo 16 thoroughfare denying that claim.

In June, coalition forces tried to overrun Hodeida but were blocked by fierce resistance put up by Houthi fighters as well as local residents, who took up arms against coalition incursion.

Although the coalition has received substantial intelligence, logistical aid and advanced weaponry from United State, it has continued to plow ahead blindly. More than three years and hundreds of thousands dead and injured later, the coalition is no closer to achieving its goals than it was when it began its bloody campaign.

For their part, the Houthis, who comprise a major component of Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarullah, show no sign of surrender and still control Sana’a and most other major cities, thwarting Saudi Arabia’s efforts to dislodge them in favor of a government more amenable to Saudi policy.

In light of the stalemate and the horrific destruction and loss of life, the Geneva peace talks between should be rekindled. “At least, let Mohammed along with millions of children live in safety as America’s children do, and save what can be saved,” Mohammed and Amran’s father told MintPress.

Top Photo | A girl and her family stand in a school where she and her family were evacuated amid fighting in Hodeida, Yemen. Abdul Jabbar Zeyad | Reuters

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Starving Off-Camera: In Yemen 20 Million Fuel the Saudi-US-NATO War Machine – By AbdulRahman Qahtan and Mnar Muhawesh Mnar Muhawesh @mnarmuh – MINT PRESS

Yemen Starvation
The Forgotten War

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/cZP7CLDx6Vc?rel=0&showinfo=0

The UN estimates that nearly 20 million Yemenis could die of starvation by the end of this year. That’s about 70 percent of the entire population.

That horrific number includes more than 2 million children who are already going hungry, including 500,000 who are suffering from severe malnutrition.

 

The people of Yemen have found themselves struggling not only for survival, but for a space in the Western media’s war coverage.

In the shadow of the conflict in Syria, the men, women and children of Yemen are being deliberately starved and targeted by strategic airstrikes and an illegal blockade in a war initiated by Saudi Arabia and aided, massively if not entirely, by the United States.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia, backed by Washington with over $200 billion in weapons assistance and billions more worth of military training under both the Obama and Trump administrations, took the already poorest nation in the Middle East and manufactured the worst humanitarian crisis of the modern era.

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

Saudi Arabia opened its checkbook in response to a UN appeal for funds, contributing nearly $300 million to cover the most urgent humanitarian aid to Yemen. But that Saudi aid would come at a steep price, and with more than a few strings attached, considering this was the same nation bombing Yemen and creating the disaster to begin with.

While the UN accepted Saudi money, it also allowed Saudi Arabia to weaponize humanitarian aid by blocking all aid shipments from reaching the starving population.

This meant that medicine, food, water treatment supplies, and basic necessities for survival were prevented from entering Yemen, exacerbating the already dire situation.

According to data collected by local rights groups, Saudi Arabia has waged over 230,000 airstrikes on Yemen since 2015, with the intention of deliberately targeting Yemen’s lifeline for survival: its food supply.

Fishing boats, fishermen and fish markets became targets of the Saudi-U.S.-backed coalition warships and helicopters in the Red Sea, depleting Yemen’s access to it’s key food staples.

To make food-supply matters even worse, the U.S.-backed Saudi air raids intentionally targeted agricultural fields, marketplaces and food-storage sites from March 2015 to the end of June 2018, creating the perfect storm to ignite famine and starvation.

Yemen relies on maritime imports for more than 80 percent of its annual staple food supplies.

Although staples remain available, the Saudi import restrictions, combined with a rapidly depreciating currency, mean food prices have skyrocketed.

Millions of Yemenis can no longer afford to buy food, forcing more than 75 percent of the population to rely on humanitarian assistance — aid that is mostly controlled and blocked by Saudi Arabia.

As the crisis rages on with no accountability in sight, Yemen’s last remaining lifeline is under threat: Hodeida, relied upon by 18 million Yemenis, is home to the major port where virtually all aid and food must enter the impoverished and war-ravished nation currently importing 90 percent of its food.

According to UN estimates, a quarter-million men, women, and children could die from the military assault alone should the U.S.-backed coalition continue its invasion of Hodeida. In fact, Saudi warplanes have already bombed buses of refugees fleeing the airstrikes.

The goal of the deadly operation, dubbed “Golden Victory,” is to capture Hodeida: a bustling port city and home to over 600,000 Yemenis.

Although Saudi Arabia catches most of the heat for this humanitarian catastrophe and the countless war crimes, another U.S. Gulf coalition ally, the United Arab Emirates, is leading the assault on Hodeida port.

An Emirati-led occupation of Hodeida would put nearly a million people at risk for suffering not only famine but instances of rape and torture, as the UAE currently occupies Southern Yemen and has set up dozens of illegal torture prison sites known for sexual torture.

While creating a state of affairs that intensifies hunger for over 20 million people, Saudi Arabia has faced no accountability from the international community. Instead, it has enjoyed receiving billions worth of weapons from the U.S. and the U.K., training from the U.S. military, and a major position on a human-rights panel at the UN, only enabling what can best be described as genocide.

Perhaps Saudi impunity derives from the fact that this war is also the fuel that fires up the United States and NATO’s war machine, which allows for the continuation of resource exploitation, war on terror, military occupation and destabilization in the small but strategic and resource-rich nation.  

This cynical agenda has forced Yemen to become the new face of skeletal children in the 21st century.

Top Photo | In this Feb. 15, 2018 photo, Awsaf, a thin 5-year-old who is getting no more than 800 calories a day from bread and tea, half the normal amount for a girl her age, drinks tea, in Abyan, Yemen. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

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World moral authority? Exposing the US role in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen – By Tony Cartalucci (New Eastern Outlook) (SOTT)

mattis

As atrocities and scandal begin to mount regarding the US-backed Saudi-led war on the impoverished nation of Yemen, the involvement and hypocrisy of the United States and other Western backers is coming to full light.

Global condemnation of Saudi airstrikes on civilian targets has brought public attention to Washington’s role in the conflict – a role the Western media has attempted to downplay for years. It is ironic, or perhaps telling, that alternative media outlets targeted as “Russian influence” are leading coverage of Yemen’s growing humanitarian catastrophe.

US Denies Role in Proxy War That Couldn’t be Fought Without It

In a recent press conference, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis – when asked about the US role in the Yemeni conflict in regards to Saudi atrocities – would claim:

We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Mattis himself would lobby US Congress earlier this year to continue US support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen.

A March 2018 Washington Post article titled, “Mattis asks Congress not to restrict US support for Saudi bombing in Yemen,” would admit:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a personal appeal to Congress on Wednesday not to restrict the United States’ support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, as the sponsors of a privileged resolution to end Washington’s involvement announced that the Senate would vote on the matter next week.

Support includes US intelligence gathering for Saudi operations, the sale of of US weapons to the Saudi regime, and even US aerial refueling for US-made Saudi warplanes dropping US-made munitions on Yemeni targets selected with the aid of US planners.

In essence, the US is all but directly fighting the “civil war” itself.

Abetting War Crimes, Sponsoring Terrorists to What End?

As to why the US believes it must continue supporting a proxy war Saudi Arabia is fighting on its behalf – beginning under US President Barack Obama and continuing in earnest under current US President Donald Trump – the Washington Post could conclude (emphasis added):

The war in Yemen has inspired much controversy in Congress, as lawmakers have questioned why the United States has involved itself so closely on the Saudi-backed side of a civil war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces. Successive presidential administrations have presented the campaign as a necessary component of the fight against terrorism and to preserve stability in the region. As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, “withdrawing US support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict.”

However, Mattis, his colleagues, and his predecessors have categorically failed to explain how Iran constitutes a greater threat to either US or global security than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a nation admittedly sponsoring Al-Qaeda worldwide, including in Yemen as revealed by a recent Associated Press investigation, and the nation which both radicalized the supposed perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D.C. and from which most of the supposed hijackers originated from.

If Iran is indeed waging war against Saudi Arabia and its terrorist proxies in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, the real question is – why isn’t the United States backing Tehran instead?

The obvious answer to this question reveals the crumbling moral authority of the United States as the principled facade it has used for decades falls away from its hegemony-driven agenda worldwide.

The US and its allies created the “War on Terror” and intentionally perpetuated it as a pretext to expand militarily around the globe in an attempt to preserve its post-Cold War primacy and prevent the rise of a multipolar alternative to its unipolar “international order.” It has done this not only at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, it has done it at the cost of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars and the lives of thousands of America’s own soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines.

Canada Too

A recent row between Canada and Saudi Arabia over supposed “human rights” concerns appears to be a vain attempt to salvage the credibility of at least some nations involved in the now 7 year long war – the last 3 years of which has seen direct military intervention by Saudi Arabia, its partners, and its backers – including Canada.

The Guardian in an article titled, “‘We don’t have a single friend’: Canada’s Saudi spat reveals country is alone,” attempts to portray Canada as taking a lone, principled stance against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia – abandoned even by Washington.

The article would claim:

The spat appeared to have been sparked last week when Canada’s foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women’s rights activists, in a tweet that echoed concerns previously voiced by the United Nations.

Saudi Arabia swiftly shot back, making plans to remove thousands of Saudi students and medical patients from Canada, and suspending the state airline’s flights to and from Canada, among other actions.

The Guardian would also claim:

…the US said it would remain on the sidelines while Saudi officials lashed out at Canada over its call to release jailed civil rights activists.

Canada’s feigned concern for “human rights” in Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Canadian government continues approving of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms sales to Riyadh. This includes small arms and armored personnel carriers Saudi forces are using in their ongoing invasion and occupation of neighboring Yemen.

The feigned divide between Ottawa and Washington over Saudi human rights violations is overshadowed by years of commitment by both North American nations in propping up the Saudi regime, and aiding and abetting the very worst of Riyadh’s human rights abuses unfolding amid the Yemeni conflict.

Canada’s apparent role is to help compartmentalize the worst of the West’s decaying moral authority, containing it with the US, and taking up a more prominent role in the West’s industrialized “human rights” and “democracy” leveraging racket.

While Canadian armaments help fuel genocide in Yemen – Canadian diplomats around the world fund agitators and directly meddle in the internal political affairs of foreign nations predicated on promoting “human rights” and “democracy.”

In Thailand for example, the US has receded into the shadows, allowing Canada, the UK, and other European nations to openly engage in political meddling on their behalf. US funding and support continues, but the public face of Western “outrage” is increasingly becoming Canadian, British, and Northern European.

However, Canada faces the same problem that has permanently eroded American credibility. And as its role in perpetuating real human rights abuses worldwide continues to be exposed, its feigned concern over token or even manufactured human rights concerns will increasingly appear hypocritical and hollow, undermining the West’s collective ability to leverage and hide behind human rights and democracy to advance their self-serving agendas.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Comment: See also:

Saudi Coalition Kidnappings and Deadly Airstrikes in Yemen Spark Mass Mobilization of Tribal Fighters – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (Mint PRESS)

Yemeni tribesmen hold their weapons and chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, May 26, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Recent Saudi-coalition airstrikes on civilian targets and allegations of kidnappings by coalition mercenaries have whipped up a hornet’s nest among Yemeni tribes.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the port city of Hodeida in western Yemen on Sunday to denounce deadly airstrikes by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition following a pair of attacks on a fish market and hospital in Hodeida that killed scores of civilians. The protests also came in response to kidnappings targeting women in the district of Tuhaita south of Hodeida on July 29. The protests continued into Monday.

In Hodeida, thousands took to the city’s center, carrying placards and Yemen’s national flags and chanting slogans condemning the series of Saudi attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians just days before.

Defiant residents marched under the slogan “your crimes will not pass and our blood will prevail.” Demonstrators stressed that Hodeida would be a cemetery for Saudi fighters and their mercenaries, no matter how much they mobilize and regardless of the intensity of their crimes against the people of Yemen.

 

In Sana’a, Yemeni women took to the streets en masse to denounce the kidnapping of women by coalition-paid mercenaries. Some of the women wielded rifles — underlining the need for protection from the kidnappers — while chanting slogans calling for Yemeni tribes to protect them.

Women protest Saudi-coalition kidnappings in Yemen's capital, Sana'a. Photo | Twitter

Local radio personality and mother of two, Thekra Abbas, said she attended the protest to ”denounce the dirty acts committed by invading and occupying forces, the latest of which is the kidnapping of the eight women from Tuhaita.”

Last Friday thousands of residents staged a mass rally in the capital Sana’a to condemn the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive against Hodeida, expressing anger at what they called Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen.  Angered by heavy civilian losses as well as airstrikes on non-military targets, protesters vowed to defend their country by any means necessary.

The latest kidnapping incident is not the first time Saudi-led coalition forces have been accused of kidnapping women. On July 5, 35-year-old Sameera Mharish was kidnapped by Saudi soldiers after they captured the village of al Jawf in central Yemen, stirring up anger among local tribes that would later mobilize against the coalition. On July 1, a young girl was kidnapped from her home in Ta’ze by coalition forces.

 

Saudi coalition crosses a Redline 

By targeting women for kidnapping, the Saudi-led coalition and the mercenary forces it employs have not only committed war crimes, they crossed a red line in Yemeni society, which is heavily steeped in tribal tradition. The move has whipped up a hornet’s nest of Yemeni tribes, which staged over 20 vigils in Hodeida, Sana’a, Dhamar, and Hajjah — all major strongholds for Yemen’s largest tribes. The largest protest vigil was held in the district of Tahamh in western Yemen, where hundreds of tribesmen belonging to the Zaraniq tribe gathered to discuss potential responses to the abductions.

The head of the Yemeni Tribal Council, Dheif Allah Rasam, said:

The practices of Saudi Arabia in Yemen against our tribes have reached an extent that cannot be tolerated, and cannot be accepted by anyone with an atom of conscience or sense of responsibility and dignity.”

The Saudi-led coalition, unable to secure control of the strategic port city of Hodeida, has flooded cities and towns surrounding the contested city with foreign and indigenous mercenaries, who are often accused of kidnapping women from their homes.

Reports of the kidnappings, as well as the attack on Hodeida`s hospital and fish market, sparked a mass mobilization of tribal fighters in Yemen’s southwest.

Huge numbers of Yemeni residents have already responded by taking to the battlefield this week in the largest draw of tribal fighters since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition began its offensive on the strategic port of Hodeida two months ago.

On Monday, Yemeni tribal fighters carried out an attack on several battalions of Saudi-led mercenaries, killing or injuring more than 80, including high-level mercenary commanders. Sixty mercenary fighters were also reportedly captured in the attack, which took place in the district of Dreihemi, 60 km from Hodeida.

 

UN peace efforts fail to stem violence

The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition says it supports UN-sponsored peace talks in Yemen but has, in fact, done little to reach a political solution to the conflict.

On Sunday, the Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem al-Hashemi, told journalists in Abu Dhabi, “We have always been in support of the [UN] special envoy, we are going to continue to do so.” However — as Salim Meghles, a member of the political wing of the Houthi (Ansar Allah) movement, said in a recent statement — the coalition has not shown “any serious or real stance toward reaching a political solution.”

During Friday’s protest in Sana’a, the head of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, said Yemen’s army will target all member countries of the Saudi-led coalition, even if they were underground, in retaliation for the escalation of coalition attacks on Hodeida. He did not refer to the resumption of the retaliatory attacks against coalition vessels in the Red Sea.

On August 1, Yemen’s Houthis submitted an initiative to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen and unilaterally suspended retaliatory attacks against Saudi-led coalition forces in the Red Sea to support that effort. But as coalition attacks intensify, Houthi officials have signaled that the initiative may not reach its two-week limit.

On Tuesday, an unmanned Houthi long-range drone targeted a Saudi command center in Camp Ambrah on Yemen’s west coast, 20 km from Hodeida. A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the drone had successfully bombed the camp, causing a “huge explosion.” The death toll and the extent of damage from the attack are still unknown.

In a separate incident, Yemen’s armed forces fired a short-range, Zelzal-1 missile at a Saudi military base in the kingdom’s southwest province if Jizan. Yemeni snipers also killed a Saudi soldier in Jabal al-Doud in the same Saudi province, and three Saudi soldiers were killed by Yemeni sharpshooters at Jizan’s al-Mash’al military base, according to a military source.

On Thursday, the UN envoy said that he was still trying to negotiate a deal to avoid a full-blown battle for Hodeida, expressing worries that Hodeida could be a flashpoint that could derail the push for talks in September.

The Saudi-led coalition has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories with the aid of advanced U.S. weapons and military equipment, as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

Top Photo | Yemeni tribesmen hold their weapons and chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, May 26, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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Another Setback for Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen – By VT Senior Editors (VT)

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It’s a serious setback for the Saudi-led coalition whose thousands of US-backed air strikes have so far failed to deliver victory over seasoned Ansarullah Houthi fighters. Strange enough, Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates and their allies still see victory in Yemen, where they are backed by US weapons and intelligence, as “vital” if they are to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, a priority for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But coalition prospects were dimmed once more this week by a popular resistance front that has nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with a nation which wants to determine its own political future and destiny.

This comes at a time when the Saudi-UAE war effort has already been running into trouble everywhere else in the war-torn country. Like in Hodeidah, there has been no sign of a victory, much less to assert their supremacy in the South.

This also comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is fast losing allies. International pressure on Western nations selling weapons to Saudi Arabia is also mounting. The uproar in the West against the selling of weapons to the Saudis has been growing louder as well, particularly in light of the worsening humanitarian disaster.

From Canada under fire for a $15 billion contract, to Sweden cutting off military cooperation that had been going on since 2015, to the UK, where talk of halting arms exports if humanitarian laws are broken in Yemen. The situation is serious because even the UN is calling on the United States to take a tough stance on Riyadh for the ongoing human rights violations in the poorest country in the Arab world.

The West isn’t the only one trying to distance itself from Saudi Arabia. In fact, tensions with close allies have increased since the arrival to power of King Salman. Recent remarks by the new Malaysian Defense Minister Mohammad Sabo on the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) withdrawal from the offensive of the Saudi-led coalition are highly debatable.

“Malaysia has never been involved in the attack on Yemen, which is also a Muslim country. The ATM presence in Saudi Arabia has indirectly involved Malaysia in the Middle East conflict. If Malaysian troops are to be involved in such attacks, they should be solely through the United Nations,” Sabo has said in a statement this week.

All in all, Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent the UAE, are too arrogant to accept defeat in Yemen, particularly in Hodeidah. That doesn’t change the fact that indeed they have lost the war. Framing the violence in Yemen as a proxy war involving Iran is flat-out wrong as well.

There’s a total blockade of sea and Iranian weapons cannot get through, personnel cannot get through. Iran has no air forces involved. The real driving force of the hostilities in Yemen is Saudi Arabia that has been shelling the country since March 2015 with a helping hand from the US and NATO allies. Riyadh is desperate to be a regional power and has instigated a number of conflicts, including those in Bahrain and Syria. The regime seeks to strengthen itself so as to ensure the continuation of its dictatorship.

To that end, Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes in Yemen. Western powers who are supplying logistical assistance and weapons are also complicit in these crimes against humanity. In spite of the far-reaching support of the Western allies, the Saudis are stuck in a quagmire similar to that being experienced by their American masters in Afghanistan.

The national resistance front in Yemen, led by the Ansarullah faction, disorganized at the beginning of the war, has now become a fighting machine, manufacturing its own weapons and being able to sustain themselves, despite the ongoing blockade. Any doubters should ask the Saudi-led invading forces that lost the battle of Hodeidah this week.

Saudi-Led Coalition Ministers of Information Meeting Probes Ways to Block Critical Coverage of Yemen War – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (SOTT)

Saudi-Led Coalition Ministers of Information Meeting Probes Ways to Block Critical Coverage of Yemen War

Well-known Yemeni activist and journalist Rand Al-Adimi told MintPress that dozens of journalists and outlets have been blacklisted, adding that “the Saudi-led coalition blacklisted my name, adding it to a list of journalists who threaten their genocide.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA — “That was the last time I saw Hashem,” recounted Mohammed Al Humran, a local Yemeni journalist, as he told MintPress how his 21-year-old son Hashem was killed in a double-tap airstrike while filming Saudi bombing raids in Dahian, north of Sadaa.

Hashem was one of the 180 journalists who have been killed in Yemen by Saudi-coalition forces, according to a report by the Union of Yemeni Journalists.

Since the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen began on March 26, 2015, journalists have been a preferred target, a fact that Saudi Arabia doesn’t shy away from acknowledging. Former coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri said in a March 2015 press conference that opposition media outlets would be targeted by the coalition and just three weeks ago, at a press conference in Riyadh, the Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman reiterated Saudi Arabia’s willingness to target journalists. MintPress News journalist Ahmed AbdulKareem was injured by a Saudi airstrike in 2015 while covering clashes near the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border.

Although the coalition’s war in Yemen barely registers in the international mainstream news, the Saudi coalition and its allies have been desperate to curb negative coverage of the war, which the U.N. has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.  

Aside from a coalition-imposed moratorium on foreign journalists entering Yemen, a recent report by the Yemeni Media Union highlights a great deal of coalition activity aimed at controlling the narrative surrounding the unpopular war, including:five cases of cloning ‘tv’ channels, 22 cases of destruction of ‘media’ facilities, 30 cases of targeting radio and television broadcasting centers, seven cases of suspension from broadcasting on Arabsat and Nilesat, and seven cases of blocking and disturbing channels.”

Despite the coalition’s efforts, ongoing work by local journalists and attention from international human-rights organizations continues to draw the ire of coalition leadership, who recently held a meeting of the coalition’s Ministers of Information in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to discuss strategies to curb what they see as a threat posed by local and international media.

 

Ministers of Information meeting in Jeddah

According to a source present in the meeting, officials named MintPress News, along with other media, as a threat to their ongoing military operation in the port of Hodeida and developed a number of strategies to stem the flow of information from the frontlines of war. The source, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, went on to say:

They plan to target all media present on Yemen’s coast, especially in Hodeida, including local radio and broadcasting stations and transmission networks … they also plan to use radio transmissions broadcast from Saudi coalition battleships off of Yemen’s coast to broadcast propaganda and psychological warfare to residents and fighters.”  

One of the strategies discussed in the meeting was using intimidation tactics to “force residents of Hodeida and surrounding regions to flee until the area effectively turns into a military zone,” a source told MintPress. According to Abdul-Wahab al-Sharif, director of Yemen’s National Commission for Humanitarian Affairs, over 13,000 families have already been displaced since June 14 when the coalition began its putsch to seize control of Hodeida.

Moreover, the Saudi-led coalition plans to wield its considerable influence in the Middle East to push for further blocks of critical coverage of the war on NileSat and ArabSat, two of the largest satellite television providers in the region. The coalition has already been able to pressure regional providers to impose limited bans on the Lebanon-based Al-Manar and Al Mayadeen television channels over their coverage of the war and, according to the Union of Yemeni Journalists, have been able to shut down all local television broadcasts from inside of Yemen a total of seven times since the war began in 2015.

 

Taking the fight online

The coalition also intends to take its media blitz to the internet. During the meeting in Jeddah, plans were discussed to push for the blocking or removal of social-media pages and online activity of journalists covering the war. The social-media profiles of hundreds of Yemeni activists have already been blocked since the war began. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have a well-established history of shuttering access to social media platforms and banning the coverage of certain topics within in their own borders; and, according to Freedom House, “Saudi Arabia has one of the most censored media environments in the world.”

A source who attended the meeting in Jeddah told MintPress that “Saudi Arabia and the UAE also discussed plans to publish fabricated news stories claiming Houthi fighters mined the port and intentionally deployed their fighters to residential areas,” in a bid to justify the heavy civilian losses that have come as a result of their operation. Plans to increase pro-Saudi and UAE narratives using paid commenters and social-media users were also discussed.  Both countries have used paid online trolls to target known Yemeni activists and journalists in the past.

 

Blacklisting critical coverage

Journalists providing coverage of the war have also been subject to harassment by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, often being blacklisted or threatened if they refuse to curb their reporting.  A Yemeni journalist embedded with Houthi forces told MintPress on condition of anonymity that he received a strange phone call from someone claiming to be from the ‘Coalition Operations Room:’

I got a call days ago from an unidentified person who said he was from the Coalition Operations Room. He told me I should leave the Houthis and join the coalition; he promised me legitimacy and financial advantages and told me I would be targeted if I didn’t comply.”

Well-known Yemeni activist and journalist Rand Al-Adimi told MintPress that dozens of journalists and outlets have been blacklisted, adding that “the Saudi-led coalition blacklisted my name, adding it to a list of journalists who threaten their genocide.”  Al Adimi runs a website covering the coalition’s war on Yemen with a special focus on her home province of Taiz.

A source who was attending the meeting in Jeddah confirmed that the harassment campaign was one of the strategies discussed in the meeting.

Local journalist and fixer Hussein al Bukhaiti isn’t deterred by news of the coalition’s efforts to step up attacks on the media. In fact, he recently traveled deeper behind the frontlines of the battle for Hodeida, hoping to capture images and videos that provide evidence to counter Saudi-coalition claims.  He told MintPress,

The coalition Ministers of Information meeting will not affect Yemeni journalists and activists; what those ministers couldn’t do in past three years they can not do in the coming days. The meeting have actually made us more determined to fight back by all means and tools available.”  

Top Photo | Information Ministers from the Saudi-led coalition speak during a meeting probing ways to curb critical coverage of their war on Yemen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. June 24, 2018. Ghazi Mahdi | AN

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

In Yemen, Selling, Borrowing, Begging To Save Loved-Ones as Cholera Rages – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm unlike anything the world has ever seen.

SANA’A, YEMEN — When his wife’s vomiting and diarrhea simply wouldn’t stop, 40-year-old Ali Sherwaid, an English teacher, did a quick accounting in his head, calibrating the catastrophe that had befallen him. With cholera ravaging his wife, 28 years-old and nine-months pregnant with the couple’s first child, Sherwaid needed to get her medical treatment. Problem was, the constant Saudi airstrikes had decimated the healthcare infrastructure in Yemen’s northern Sa’ada province, and his village of Fudh was at least 6 hours drive, on bad country roads, to the nearest hospital.

Compounding the crisis was the fact that Sherwaid had no money — Yemen’s civil servants haven’t been paid in months — and he had nothing to pay a doctor to treat his wife, Fatimah.

And so Sherwaid auctioned off his wife’s jewelry, borrowed money from neighbors, bundled his wife’s doubled-over frame into his car, and sped off in the night, headed for al Jomuri Hospital in the city of Sa’ada, some 80 miles away. Days later, as her health continued to break down, his wife was taken to Al Sabeen Hospital in Sana’a, the capital.

In an interview, Sherwaid told MintPress News:

When we finally reached the hospital, my wife was inching towards death.”

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Yemen’s is the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis and, when measured by the proportion of the population affected, it might well be the worst in a century. Since the armed conflict erupted in March of 2015, more than 10,000 Yemenis have died, and 22.2 million people — out of a total population of just under 28 million — are now in need of food, medicine, water and shelter. Of that number, 11.3 million — mostly women, children, and the elderly — are at risk of dying, according to international relief agencies.

A nurse cares for a malnourished boy at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

In addition to an aggressive bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and supported by the United States and the United Kingdom — targeting Yemen’s civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and clinics — the coalition’s blockade of Yemen’s land, sea and air routes has left more than 12 million people without wheat and other food staples. The combination of the blockade and bombing of Yemen’s electrical grid has left nearly 15 million Yemenis without access to health care, and 10 million are in jeopardy of losing access to potable water.

The shortage of potable water has driven Yemenis to drink from water sources polluted with their neighbors’ feces and urine, resulting in a cholera outbreak that is believed to have infected more people than any cholera epidemic in modern history. Since the spring of 2011,”nearly 1,490,000 cases of a particularly aggressive strain of the waterborne disease have been reported in Yemen,” Abdul Hakeem al-Kuhlani, general manager of the cholera observation unit in Sana’a said to a Journalist for MintPress; “tens of thousands have proven fatal.”

Even before the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East. The war has deepened poverty; millions of public-sector employees have gone months without a paycheck.

“Everything in Sa`ada has been destroyed by Saudi airstrikes,” Sherwaid told MintPress. “My wife, who is pregnant with our first child, contracted cholera; I didn’t have money and was forced to sell everything to save my wife and child.”  

 

The room of horrors

The cholera ward at Al Sabeen Hospital is a room of horrors. A dozen patients lie motionless in their beds; a couple watches their child take his last breath. A man vomits into a pan, his eyes dry and dazed. Patients’ families kneel in prayer to Allah. When Sherwaid arrived at the camp, the families welcomed him and helped his wife find a new bed. Saeed — a father of two children, ages six and nine, who are infected with cholera — whispers to Sherwaid: “I only want to see my two sons recover from cholera, and then we can celebrate.” He tells MintPress, “My youngest son Salem, six, was first infected, and then he transmitted the disease to his brother.”

“We expect to see a surge of cases during the rainy season,” Anton Camacho, lead author of a study on the epidemic published in The Lancet Global Health journal, told Reuters.

MSF`s cholera treatment center in Hajjah’s Abs, destroyed by Saudi airstrikes on June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

The Saudi-led coalition targeted this particular center for the second time, and facilities managed by Doctors Without Borders have been targeted on six different occasions. According to a statement by the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Sana`a: “The U.S.-Saudi-led coalition deliberately undermines the health system,” in Yemen, and the “United States of America bears responsibility for these attacks.”

 

After attack on Hodeida, the humanitarian situation worsens

The Saudi-led coalition escalated its airstrikes on the city of Hodeida in western Yemen, which is the lone remaining supply line for the millions of Yemenis in the north who rely on foreign aid for food, fuel, medicine for cholera, and other necessities. The number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death could rise from 8.4 million currently to 18.4 million by December of this year, according to UN officials.

On May 6, 2018, national health authorities launched an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign in cooperation with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Almost 275,000 doses of OCV were administered in May across five priority districts in Aden, reaching nearly 70 percent of the target population.

A billboard raising awareness of the environmental campaign against cholera in the Tahrir district of Sanaa, June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

For his part, Sherwaid gets a double-dose of horrible news: His unborn child died and his wife has an incurable kidney disease and will need dialysis for the rest of her life. Realizing it could be worse, Sherwaid says almost jubilantly: “Praise Allah.”

Top Photo | A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday – By Eric ZUESSE (STRATEGIC ORDER FOUNDATION)

America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.06.2018

Eric ZUESSE

The Houthis in Yemen are expected to start being slaughtered en-masse on June 12th. The U.S.-Saudi-UAE plan is to destroy the Yemenese port city of Al Hudaydah, which is the only entry-way by which food reaches approximately seven million Shiites, members of the Houthi tribe, who occupy the western third of Yemen, and who had recently ruled all of Yemen. The U.S. provides the weapons and the training, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the pilots for this operation, which is financed mainly by the Saudis. The objective is to establish a joint UAE-Saudi-run government of Yemen.

On Monday, June 11th, the New York Times bannered “U.N. Pulls Out of City in Yemen, Fearing Bloody Assault by Arab Coalition”. That report didn’t mention that this is America’s fundamentalist-Sunni coalition of Arab monarchies, using American weapons, in order to bomb and blockade, and now starve to death, approximately seven million Houthis, and that it’s part of a broader war in which the U.S. and Israel are allied with fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies, which are trying to conquer Shiite-run countries, especially Yemen, Syria, and ultimately Iran. The Houthis are Shia, not Sunni. On 24 October 2014, a Houthi leader was interviewed in Yemen Times, which reported: “Al-Bukhaiti does not think that ‘the Iranian system’ [a Shia theocracy] could ever be implemented in the country. Neither do the Houthis have any interest in bringing back the Imamate. Instead, he describes the Zaydi [their Shia] doctrine as ‘republican’ and the Houthi group as ‘liberal’.” None of America’s Islamic allies is even remotely like that description.

America’s alliance of fundamentalist-Sunni Arab monarchies call Iran especially an “existential threat” to themselves, because Iran, and Shiites generally, are opposed to monarchical governments, especially after 1979, when Iranians overthrew the U.S. CIA-installed (in 1953) Shah. And all of America’s allies in the Middle East, other than theocratic-Jewish apartheid Israel, are fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies.

The reason the U.N. is pulling out is to avoid being killed by these American missiles and bombs, which are expected to produce, by means of these UAE and Saudi proxy-fighters, a rare American victory in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates are providing the U.S.-trained pilots, who will drop U.S. bombs from U.S. planes, so as to destroy Al Hudaydah, and thereby completely block any food from reaching the seven-to eight million food-stranded Houthi Shiites.

The New York Times report said, “Diplomats involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations say that the United Arab Emirates officially warned the British government on Friday that an attack on Al Hudaydah was imminent. The Emiratis said they would give three days for humanitarian workers and nongovernmental organizations to flee the city. The International Committee for the Red Cross removed its staff from the city over the weekend. … [The U.S. Secretary of State,] Mr. Pompeo said that in his conversation with the Emiratis he had made clear the United States’ ‘desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports,’ the statement said.”

On June 5th, Agence France Presse reported that, “More than 22 million people are now in serious need of aid, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.”

So, while the U.S. has approved this operation, the U.S. also has a “desire” to be “preserving the free flow of” food, and this suggests that the U.S. Government intends that the blame for the expected genocide will fall only upon America’s fundamentalist-Sunni royal partners, who are expected to be running Yemen afterward. Whatever “concerns” for “preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports” that the U.S. might have had, will, no doubt, show up during the starvation-operation, which will follow the bombardment of Al Hudaydah.

This mission is clearly important to the Trump Administration. The New York Times report closes: “American military officials do not want Congress to prevent military aid to the two nations [UAE and Saudi Arabia], both of which are crucial allies in counterterrorism, nor do they want a vacuum of power in Yemen to result in a new incubator for extremist groups like the Islamic State [which group is fundamentalist-Sunni, like America’s allies, the monarchs in UAE and Saudi Arabia, are] and Al Qaeda [which also is fundamentalist-Sunni]. Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.” The U.S. has instead given its allies the go-ahead to proceed.

Trump had said, when he campaigned for the Presidency in 2016, that he had opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, no record existed confirming that that had been so. In any case, there has been no indication of anything like such sentiments from him since he became President, and all of the people whom he has appointed to diplomatic and military posts have been consistent supporters of American invasions, including of Iraq. But this time around, the U.S. is not providing any of the actual troops.

Thus far in his Presidency, Trump has sold to the royal family of Saudi Arabia $400 billion in U.S.-made weapons and training. Additional billions have been sold to UAE. So, the war in Yemen is profitable for American firms such as Lockheed Martin. And no American is likely to get the blame. Perhaps Trump has learned something, after all, from the experience of George W. Bush. Trump is aspiring to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, had won. (After winning that, Obama bombed Libya in 2011, but Obama’s Prize was never retracted.) Perhaps Trump has sound reason to be optimistic.

washingtonsblog.com

Washington considers direct intervention in siege of Yemeni port city -By Bill Van Auken (WSWS)

FB_IMG_1516129679815.jpg

By Bill Van Auken
5 June 2018

In what would constitute a major escalation of the US role in the near-genocidal war waged over the last three years by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Yemen, US officials were in discussions yesterday on the Pentagon taking a direct role in the siege of the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

Saudi and UAE-led forces came within 10 km of Hodeidah on Monday, having pushed north up Yemen’s western coast with the aid of relentless air strikes against Houthi rebel forces, which control the city as well as the country’s northwestern provinces, including the capital of Sana’a, which is 230 miles to the north.

The Wall Street Journal Monday cited US officials reporting that “The Trump administration is weighing an appeal from the United Arab Emirates for direct US support to seize Yemen’s main port. …”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strong proponent of global US military intervention, has asked American officials to come up with a “quick assessment” of the prospects for a direct US military role in the siege of Hodeidah.

The Journal report cited one official raising doubts that the US-backed forces “would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.” Another senior American official, however, told the Journal: “We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good.’ ”

A battle for control of Hodeidah poses a direct threat to the city’s civilian population of 400,000, with the potential of a Saudi blitzkrieg combined with a direct US intervention recreating the kind of mass slaughter unleashed by the Pentagon in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.

More broadly, such a siege threatens the lives of millions of Yemenis in the Houthi-controlled highlands, for whom Hodeidah is the sole aid lifeline in a country historically reliant on imports for 90 percent of its food.

Even before taking into account the catastrophic impact of closing down this port, the chief aid official at the United Nations, Mark Lowcock, warned last week that by the end of this year, another 10 million Yemenis will join the 8.4 million who are already on the brink of starvation in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Hundreds of foreign aid workers have reportedly evacuated the city, and it was reported on Monday that a UN aid vessel came under direct attack by Saudi warplanes. The city is already under bombardment from both the air and the sea.

“Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters. “We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.” He added that such a war would mean “nothing coming through” in terms of food and other aid for the country’s starving population.

It was reported Monday that a UN mediator, Martin Griffiths, had arrived in Sana’a to present a proposal for a Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and the placing of the port under UN supervision. It was not clear, however, whether either the Houthi-led administration or the Saudi and UAE-led forces would adhere to such a settlement.

The Saudi-led “coalition” wants to secure its grip over Hodeidah in order to starve into submission the entire population in the areas under Houthi control.

Sharpening the tensions and creating the conditions for even greater slaughter, the Saudi and UAE monarchies are pursuing conflicting interests in their military interventions in Yemen, with Riyadh attempting to re-install the puppet government of Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the UAE supporting secessionists who are seeking to revive the former state of South Yemen.

Saudi Arabia launched the war in March 2015, carrying out relentless airstrikes ever since that have devastated civilian neighborhoods, vital infrastructure, factories and even farms. Mass civilian casualties have resulted from the bombing of funerals and weddings, with the death toll from these attacks now over 13,000, with many more dying from hunger and disease. More than 2,200 people have lost their lives to a cholera epidemic that has infected 1.1 million people, while the country has seen its first outbreak of diphtheria since 1982

From the beginning of the Saudi onslaught, the Obama administration provided indispensable US military support, selling Saudi Arabia and the UAE bombs (including outlawed cluster munitions) and warplanes used to strike Yemen, providing mid-air refueling to Saudi jets to assure continuous bombardment, and setting up a joint US-Saudi command to render logistical aid, including intelligence used in selecting targets. At the same time, US special forces units and armed drones have been deployed in Yemen for assassination missions against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Trump administration has escalated US involvement, with not only massive new arms sales to the Saudi monarchy, but also the deployment of US special operations troops to fight directly alongside Saudi forces. Revealed a month ago, this deployment was carried out behind the backs of the American people and without informing Congress, much less gaining its authorization. While explained as a mission to protect Saudi Arabia’s borders with Yemen, the purpose of the US troop deployment appears to be far broader.

Driving the US toward increasingly direct intervention in a war that has pitted the obscenely rich oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf against the poorest nation in the Arab world is the broader strategy elaborated by the Trump administration in preparation for a military confrontation with Iran.

The US and its allies have cast the war in Yemen as a so-called proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Washington making unsubstantiated allegations that Iran has supplied the Houthi rebels with arms. The reality is that both Washington and Riyadh see the domination of Yemen by any government that is not a US-Saudi puppet regime as an unacceptable threat.

The discussions in Washington on an escalation of direct US intervention in Yemen are unfolding in the context of the sharp ratcheting up of US sanctions and threats against Iran following President Trump’s unilateral May 8 withdrawal from the nuclear agreement reached in 2015 between Iran and the so-called P5+1—the US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia.

A more direct US military intervention in Yemen may prove the stepping stone to a region-wide war aimed against Iran and at the securing of US imperialism’s unfettered control over the energy-rich and strategically vital Middle East.

A View from the Rubble of Sana’a: What Happens When an Airstrike Hits Your Street – by Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

SANA’A, YEMEN — The late morning sun conspired with a cloudless blue sky to frame the Al Tahir commercial district here in a shimmering champagne glow. With the noon hour approaching, swatches of life unfurl like images in a Diego Rivera mural: Al Qasr Street begins to swell with cars, courier trucks and bicycles, while pedestrians trickle into the appliance stores,  cafes and pharmacies that sit in the shadow of the presidential palace.

A motorist, Ibrahim Abdulkareem, heads to the hospital where his wife — badly injured in a Saudi airstrike that destroyed his home and killed his two-year-old son — is scheduled for yet another surgery. A 13-year-old boy with a mop of thick black hair, Amin Al Wazi, sits listless and cross-legged against a wall, hoping to earn a few bucks by offering the use of his digital blue bathroom scale for a small donation. The child has been a fixture on the street for months, since his family arrived in this capital city after fleeing the Saudi aerial attacks in western Yemen.

Suddenly, a plane’s loud whirring pierces Al Tahir’s preoccupied hum, followed by a deafening explosion, and then another, a few minutes later. When finally the thick black smoke begins to dissipate, Abdulkareem climbs from his car to discover that the orderly streetscape has been transformed into a hellish scene, like some overwrought imagining of Dante: roughly five football fields of thick, choking dust, smoldering shops, mangled metal, and charred corpses buried under mountains of rubble. Anguished moans and screams fill the air like an aria of grief and pain.

“Do not gather,” warn the paramedics rushing to the scene to warn against the Saudi tactic of “double-tapping,” intended to inflict maximum damage. “The Saudi airplanes will come back.”

Abdulkareem ignores their admonition and climbs from his car, rushing to help.

“Do not worry, you will be fine!” he assures the first casualty he stumbles upon, an elderly man sitting in a heap of twisted metal and shattered glass. His legs have been shorn off in the blast, and Abdulkareem hopes that his lie will provide the dying man with some comfort in his final moment. He helps rescue workers load the body into an ambulance where the man draws his last breath.

Across the street, men pull Al Wazi’s lifeless body from a pile of rubble. “It is him,” shouts a shopkeeper, his face covered with soot and dust. “It is the boy of the digital scale; he is dead.”

The boy and his weigh scale were fixtures on Al Qasr Street since he and his family moved here months ago from western Yemen after an airstrike at a Yemen wedding party left more than 85 civilians dead, including his father.

Come rain or shine, the cold of winter or the searing heat of a Yemen summer, he was there at first light to eke out something resembling a living for himself and his family. The nearby shopkeepers erupt in anger at the discovery of his body, and curse the Saudis who accuse Houthi rebels of being proxies of their historic rival, Iran.  

“He was no Iranian expert,” cries out Ali Ahmed, the owner of a nearby restaurant, as he scrambles past capsized plastic white tables and splintered blue tiles. “He is a young boy; he was no Houthi leader. Are we carrying a missile ballistic platform? Are the civilians from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards or Hezbollah?”

 

Predictable death by air and sea

Gawad Awad, a severely malnourished Yemeni 4-month-old, lies in the lap of his mother, Heba Ahmed, in the Al-Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, Yemen, this Feb. 13, 2018 photo. Gawad weighed 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds). Aden’s hospital is the best supplied in southern Yemen, but many of the other hospitals around the south are short of supplies and under staff, and families with starving children can’t afford to make the trip to Aden. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

Since this war began in 2015, Saudi airstrikes in this tiny nation on the Red Sea have become almost as predictable as the tide. And, combined with a suffocating blockade of Yemen’s ports, children here are more likely to die before their 18th birthday than anywhere else in the world. In November 2017, Save the Children estimated that as many as 130 children were dying every day in Yemen, and more than 50,000 children died over the calendar year.

In December 2016, UNICEF reported that a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections. And the U.K.-based NGO Disasters and Emergencies Committee’s recent report put the number of preventable deaths at 10,000.

That, Yemenis say, is not a coincidence. Ignored by the Western media and unseen by the rest of the world, the Saudis abide by few rules of war, in their attempt to ethnically cleanse this nation of 27 million people, and clear a path for Western powers to seize control of its mineral resources and its ports that are a gateway to the Arab world, Europe and Asia.

Speaking at a news conference in the Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that April has been the deadliest month this year so far with a sharp increase in civilian casualties in Yemen.

Increasingly, the UN asserts, the attacks are in densely populated areas, such as the one here in Sana’a targeting the presidential palace. The Saudi airstrikes also raise questions about whether the Saudis are adhering to the legal principle of proportional response so often violated by Israel’s use of sophisticated drones and other weaponry to retaliate against Palestinians for launching World War I-era rockets, many of which land harmlessly.

The airstrike here that killed Amin Al Wazi left another nine civilians dead and 82 more injured, but it was fairly unremarkable for all but those who lived through it.

 

Bombers see a puff of smoke, a father sees the bloodied corpse of his child

Ibrahim has seen worse. In 2015, he lost his infant daughter in an airstrike, the same one that left his wife badly injured and in need of surgery on the day of the airstrikes on the presidential palace.

The night of that airstrike, Ibrahim, an engineer, told MintPress he awoke to the sound of his wife screaming. She was pinned under the rubble of their collapsed walls. His two-year-old daughter was completely buried under plaster and stone. Ibrahim told MintPress it took hours to dig out first his wife, and then his daughter from the rubble, and remove the shrapnel from the girl’s tiny body.

Said Ibrahim:

I did not give up; her blood was dripping on my clothes as I ran to (the) hospital hoping to see her smile again. Doctors were trying to bring her back to life but it was too late. I fainted to the floor.”

Top Photo | People inspect the rubble of homes destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News and local Yemeni media.

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