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.

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“Nowhere to Run”: Chaotic Exodus as Yemenis Flee Saudi-UAE Bombardment of Hodeida – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

Thousands of Yemenis have fled the port city of Hodeida amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion causing a mass exodus of internally displaced people in the already war

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Mohammed Mousa, 31, has sharp wide eyes. Enthusiastic and angry, he shouts slogans against Yemen’s latest invaders while in the midst of a huge rally in Hodeida. Mousa was one of the thousands of Yemeni residents of the Tihamah region to take to the streets on Friday to protest the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition’s assault on their city. Carrying banners, Kalashnikovs, and Yemeni flags, they chanted lyrics from Yemen’s national anthem “my heartbeat shall remain that of a Yemeni … no foreigner shall ever hold dominion over Yemen.”

The protesters hold the United States responsible for crimes committed in the war and for the consequences of the U.S.-backed Saudi-coalition blockade, welcoming fighters from across Yemen who have descended upon Hodeida to help in the defense of their city. They also condemn the United Nations for its inaction, calling on it to shoulder its responsibility to protect civilians and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Mousa, who lives only 300 meters from the embattled Hodeida airport, is one the many residents of Tihamah who fled home days ago. Family in tow, he walked six kilometers, hiding behind walls and under trees to avoid Saudi airstrikes before finding shelter at a school inside the city.

“They told us that buses could not come in or out so we started walking, carrying our children and stopping every once in a while to rest while Apaches hovered above,” Mousa told MintPress. “We were scared; we saw dead bodies in al-Gharasi.” Six civilians, including four women, had been killed by an airstrike that targeted a bus full of displaced residents near al-Gharasi earlier that week.

“Now we’re in this school, no mattresses, no electricity, no water, no bathrooms, nothing, and we have children who need food and medicine” Mousa said, sitting on the floor of an empty classroom housing those displaced by Saudi and UAE attacks. Dozens of families have sought shelter in local schools, unable to secure assistance elsewhere thanks to a coalition blockade of the city’s port, the sole entry point for up to 80 percent of the country’s humanitarian aid.

A Yemeni mother and her child, displaced by a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has warned that the U.S.-backed Saudi-coalition attacks on Hodeida could endanger the lives of millions, forcing civilians to seek shelter in schools further away from the fighting. He added, “the Saudi and Emirati coalition’s ongoing attacks on Hodeida could cause enormous civilian casualties and have a disastrous impact on the life-saving humanitarian aid to millions of people, which comes through the port.”

 

They chose to die on their land

Just as al-Hussein warned, thousands of families have fled the intense fighting near Hodeida’s contested airport, as coalition forces ramp-up indiscriminate airstrikes in a bid to wrest control from Houthi forces. UAE Apache helicopters have been striking schools and homes in the neighborhood of Manzar abutting the airport and at least four civilians were killed and a girl injured when an airstrike targeted their home in the Hawk district, a neighborhood near the airport.


Read more of MintPress’ exclusive reporting from Yemen

A family member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told MintPress:

They refused to be displaced from their home or farm, they preferred to die on their land instead of leaving it to foreign mercenaries.”

 

“What are we going to do now?”

Other residents in the area have fled to cities further from the fighting, seeking shelter inland in Sanaa, or northeast to the mountainous city of Hajjah. Days ago, Sanaa’s southern entrance, which links Sanaa to Hodeida, was packed with buses and cars fleeing Hodeida. Traffic was at a virtual standstill as cars — some packed with up to 20 people, mostly women and children — entered the city.

Samah, a 19-year-old resident of Hodeida, fled to Sanaa with 20 other displaced families, hoping it would be safer than Hodeida. “We didn’t have time to gather our clothes; we lived in hell in a school, and I knew warplanes would target us,” Samah told MintPress from behind a torn burqa.  Samah lost her aunt and her aunt`s family when two Saudi airstrikes targeted a camp for internally displaced people in al-Hali on April 2, 2018, killing more than 20 refugees, mostly women and children.

Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi, UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, arrive in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

Since March of 2015, when the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition began its military campaign against Yemen, several camps for the internally displaced have been targeted by coalition forces. Last July, at least 20 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a Saudi-coalition airstrike in the village of al-Atera in the Taiz province.

At the Abu Bakr Center for internally displaced people located in southwest Sanaa, men, women, and children stood in long lines under the blazing sun waiting to register their names before being transferred to schools in other regions. Anxious, exhausted and gripped by fear, they carry the few personal belongings they were able to secure before fleeing Hodeida.

There, a woman can be overheard telling her husband “our numbers are very large, what are we going to do now? I’m scared for my kids; we don’t even have blankets, maybe we’ll stay here tonight.” He replied simply, “God will help us.”

Abdul-Wahab al-Sharif, director of the National Commission for Humanitarian Affairs, told MintPress that as of Saturday about 300 families had reached Sanaa. “We have 47 centers for the displaced and only three of them are ready to receive people, with only simple accommodations.” Many of the displaced suffer from malaria, rashes, diarrhea and some are suspected to have cholera, but al-Sharif says there is no medicine or medical care: “We are already in a humanitarian crisis.”

A Yemeni mother and her children, displaced by a deadly Saudi, UAE invasion, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

 

No place to run

The suffering of Yemen’s internally displaced people is severe. Some have relatives in Sanaa and other places outside of Hodeida, but many do not, forcing families to seek shelter in small makeshift tents inside of unfinished buildings, on the edges of roads, and sometimes even in waste dumps.

Most of them spend their time begging for food in the street, oftentimes relying on remnants of bread and rice to satisfy their children’s hunger. As the situation continues to deteriorate, most are unable to find jobs or secure a regular source of income.

Others, deciding their prospects are bleak anywhere they go, have entrenched themselves in their homes. Sauad, a 50-year-old mother of six living in Hodeida, has been unable to flee her home. Her husband died from cholera last year and she now faces constant bombardment, a lack of clean water, and power cuts. She told MintPress,

We have lived in a state of terror for three days because of the warplanes and Apaches. We couldn’t escape, I have children and no place to run.  We haven’t even had water for 28 hours.”

Top Photo | Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. 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.

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

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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Mike Pompeo makes a fool of himself laying out his twelve ridiculous and idiotic demands for Iran – By Eric Zeusse The Duran(SOTT)

Mike Pompeo Rouhani

On Monday, May 21st, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a dozen demands upon Iran’s Government – demands which insult the sovereignty of Iran and dictate terms to its Government, as if the U.S. Government weren’t the one that routinely invades and perpetrates coups overthrowing other governments, so that the peoples of the world say that the U.S. Government (not Iran) is overwhelmingly “the world’s biggest threat to peace.”

POMPEO SAID, ON MAY 21st:

We demand from Iran:

First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.

[Israel and the U.S. get to keep our nukes but Iran must not keep theirs, and must instead do what these two rabidly hostile bully-Governments, Israel & U.S., say.]

Second, Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.

[Maybe Iran will do that when Israel and U.S. stop threatening Iran, and when Israel stops having nukes while Iran doesn’t.]

Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.

[The latest IAEA report on Iran actually says, “Since 16 January 2016 (JCPOA Implementation Day), the Agency has verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments.” Iran fulfills its obligations under the treaty, but now the U.S. does not (and insists that Europe must not).]

[Fourth,] Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.

[Iran will do that when Israel and U.S. do.]

[Fifth,] Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.

[The U.S. dictates that the legal cases against those charged be terminated, and this demand assures that those cases will be fully prosecuted; so, Pompeo is hardly helping anyone by this arrogance.]

[Sixth,] Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

[All Islamic terrorism except against Israel comes from the Sunni-run nations, that are allies of the U.S. against Shia-run Iran, and that finance Al Qaeda and other such terrorist groups, all of which are Sunni and rabidly anti-Shia – and Iran is the leading Shia nation.]

[Seventh,] Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.

[ America overthrew Iraq’s Government in 2003 and now accuses Iran of violating “the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government.” Is Pompeo rehearsing for a role as Satan in some stupid play?]

[Eighth,] Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.

[The U.S., and two of its Sharia-law Sunni royal allies, Saudi Arabia and UAE, are bombing the hell out of and starving Yemen, and demand that Houthis and other Shia in Yemen stop their resisting that.]

[Ninth,] Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.

[Iran might consider doing that after the U.S. and its fundamentalist-Sunni allies stop their invasion-occupation of sovereign Syrian territory.]

[Tenth,] Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders.

[Pompeo lies: the Taliban are fundamentalist Sunnis who were trained and armed by Saudi Arabia and the United States and therefore are enemies of Iran; he’s like the wife-beater who demands that someone who isn’t wife-beating must cease wife-beating.]

[Eleventh,] Iran, too, must end the IRG Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.

[The Quds Force were created during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war in order to protect Iranians against Saddam Hussein’s invasions when Saddam was supported by the U.S. Government in order to re-conquer Iran in 1980. Iran will not take orders from the nation, America, that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Government in 1953, and that then backed Saddam’s attempt to reconquer Iran in the 1980s. The U.S. Government lies constantly about Iran.]

[Twelfth,] And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks.

[These are just more lies and distortions.]

That list is pretty long, but if you take a look at it, these are 12 very basic requirements. The length of the list is simply a scope of the malign behavior of Iran. We didn’t create the list, they did.

Pompeo again lies: The U.S. regime’s malign behavior is clear; and Iran didn’t create this list – the pompous and idiotic liar, Trump’s appointee Mike Pompeo, did.

See Also:

Saudi Attempts to Sow Seeds of Sectarianism in Yemen Are Backfiring – By Ahmed Abdulkareem – (MINT PRESS)

Day and night, Yemenis in rebel-held areas are bombarded with polarizing sermons, radio ads reminiscent of the vitriol that fueled the 1994 Rwandan massacre, and leaflet drops that routinely rain down messages of disunity like confetti commandments hurled from an angry, vengeful God.

SANA’A, YEMEN — A  phalanx of flickering video cameras frames the portly Saudi Imam in a shimmering half-light, as he exhorts a brigade of Sunni Muslim mercenaries from the East African nation of Sudan to prepare for battle with rebels from Yemen’s Shia sect known as Houthis.

The (Saudi) King Salman Bin Abdulaziz brought you to defend the Prophet Muhammad;  Salman gave you the honor of defending the Prophet Muhammad’s companions.”

He continues, accusing the heterodox Houthis of heresy, in effect:

For Aisha, wife of Prophet Muhammad, has been accused of adultery by the Houthis. You should defend her. You will die on the path of Allah; you will go to heaven. You must be thankful to (King) Salman for giving this chance to you.”

Posted on YouTube, the imam’s stemwinder is part of Saudi Arabia’s broader media campaign to portray its military effort here at the Arabian peninsula’s edge as an intervention of sorts, an altruistic attempt to help a population of 28 million Yemenis sort out sectarian rivalries between Sunnis and Shias that date back centuries.

Since the conflict in Yemen erupted seven years ago, Saudi Arabia has taken to the pulpit and the airwaves, Facebook and Twitter and the Western media, to inflame Islamic passions, manufacture dissent, and rally Sunni Muslims both at home and abroad to repel the backwards Shia rebels and their supporters from Iran, which is home to more Shias than any country in the world. Day and night, Yemenis in rebel-held areas are bombarded with polarizing sermons such as in the above YouTube rant filmed in 2017, radio ads reminiscent of the vitriol that fueled the 1994 Rwandan massacre, and leaflet drops that routinely rain down messages of disunity like confetti commandments hurled from an angry, vengeful God.

“We’re trying to save you from the Persians,” reads one batch of leaflets. “Coalition forces came for you, when the Furs (Persians) tried infringing the origin of Arabism and Arab people, also for keeping your wealth and safety.”

One of the dropped by Saudi planes. Translation: “Oh honorable people, The coalition`s forces have come for you, when the Furs (Persians) tried infringing on the origin of Arabism and the Arab people, and to protect your wealth and safety.”

Combined with Saudi cash, this propaganda campaign has succeeded in recruiting Muslim sectarians and mercenaries from around the world, and disseminating its narrative in the Western media.

“How Sectarianism shapes Yemen’s War,” reads a Washington Post headline.

“How Sunni-Shia Sectarianism Is Poisoning Yemen,” reads a headline for the Carnegie for Middle East Center’s website.

“Combat in Yemen Risks Stirring Sectarian Hatreds,” reads a Reuters headline.

But here in Yemen, among a population that is roughly that of Texas, such Balkanizing rhetoric has largely fallen on deaf ears. In one interview after another, Yemenis told MintPress that they do not view the conflict in tribal terms but through a geopolitical lens: along with its allies in the U.S., Western Europe and Israel, Saudi Arabia wants to seize control of Yemen’s lucrative oil and natural gas reserves, and strategic supply routes.  

Hence this war, which has left more than 600,000 dead and injured. A Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports led to the deaths of 50,000 children from starvation and illness in 2017 alone — and human rights groups say that, on average, 130 children continue to die each day in Yemen, transforming what was the poorest country in the Middle East into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at a news conference in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday that April 2018 has been the deadliest month this year so far, with a sharp increase in civilian casualties in Yemen.

As of this month, hundreds of thousands of people in Hodeida, western Yemen, are internally displaced and, thanks to a recent Saudi-led Coalition military campaign and a U.S.-supported Saudi blockade on Hodeida port, millions lack access to potable water.

Amnesty International says intense fighting near Yemen’s largest port of Hodeida has displaced around 100,000 people in recent months, most of them from Hodeida Province — saying “the worst could be yet to come.”

The Saudi-led Coalition’s warplanes indiscriminately target homes, schools and farms; and Yemenis, both Sunni and Shia, respond accordingly. They fight together and pray together, bury their martyrs together and die together defending their homeland from the foreign threats. Sunni women cook for Shia fighters and sell their jewelry to support them. No one interviewed for this story reported ever seeing an Iranian combatant or arms dealer, nor do they know anyone who has. Just last week, an angry mob gathered in the northern city of Sa’ada to set fire to leaflets dropped from Saudi aircraft.

Yemeni gather and burn inflammatory leaflets encouraging sectarianism cast by Saudi aircraft in Sa`ada, Northern Yemen, May 10, 2018. (Phoot: MintPress News)

When asked if Saudi Arabia is fighting for “Sunni interests,” one Yemeni taxi driver referenced the Saudis’ support for the Egyptian military’s 2012 coup that overthrew a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Sunni sect.

Saudi does not care about the Sunnis. You know the Saudis immediately used their financial muscle to help the anti-Muslim Brotherhood coup . . . led by General Sisi to consolidate its control over that country.”

A young Yemeni woman majoring in political science at Sana’a University, referenced Saudi Arabia’s support for Israel’s 2014 bombardment of the Palestinian territories:

When it came to Gaza, Islam’s template was discarded. Saudi Arabia gave Tel Aviv a green light to destroy Hamas in 2014.”

Taha Abu Talib — the head of the Yemen Legal Center for Rights and Development, which tracks coalition airstrikes on a daily basis — said that most of the casualties are Sunnis. A Yemeni scholar, Mohammad Taher Anam, told MintPress:

Saudi Arabia depicts the war on Yemen as a sectarian war to provoke Sunni followers . . . It is just like a bullfighter irritating the bull by waving the red cape.”

Those who put their hand on the chest while praying are Sunnis; the others are Shia.

 

 

Yemenis are not falling in Saudi propaganda

While the Houthis do represent the vanguard of Yemen’s resistance movement, their beliefs are relatively moderate within the context of Islamic factions, and historically Sunnis and Shias lived together peacefully. Even before the war, it was not uncommon to see Sunnis and Shias praying together at local mosques in Yemen.

A popular Sunni cleric, Major Yahia Al Deir, led a brigade of Houthi fighters when he was killed on a battlefield near the city of Najran. In a video recorded shortly before his death, he urged all Yemenis to fight together against Saudi invaders.

Major Yahia Al Deir was a Sunni preacher, killed on a battlefield at Najran, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia while leading a military corps of Houthi fighters (Zaidi) in operations against Saudi military sites, 2018 (MintPress News)

In Major Yahia`s village, al Wathan, roughly 35 miles south of Sana, Abdullah Al Deir said his brother was motivated by the violence Saudi Arabia inflicted on Yemenis, both Sunni and Shia. A friend who fought alongside Major Al Deir, Ahmed Al Qaseem, said the cleric was fond of saying

We are fighting together, there is no Sunni and Shia.’”

Typically outnumbered in their colonial conquests, European settlers in the Arab world and across the global South have sought to divide the many by pitting the indigenous and working-class people against one another. In the Americas, that strategy has largely fallen along racial lines, as the elites have pitted every wave of white immigrants against the descendants of African slaves. In the African and Arab world, the fissures are more likely than not either tribal or religious or both.

Tribal divisions in Africa, for example, were traditionally fluid and seldom violent — tantamount, for the most part, to rivalries between fans of college basketball or professional football teams. But, in openly favoring one tribe over another for decades, European settlers inflamed tensions that led to real political violence between, say, the Shona and Ndebele tribes in Zimbabwe, Zulu and Xhosa in South Africa, and, most famously, the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, a former French colony.

As Ansarullah Political Bureau member Ali Al Quhom, told MintPress:

The American-Saudi aggression main goal is to occupy the country and plunder its wealth. They want to sink Yemeni people into chaos by reviving the ethnic and sectarian conflicts.”

Yemenis, however, have largely avoided such tensions.

In March of 2016, Sunnis gathered in the western city of Hodeida for a conference billed as “Together to reject sectarianism, Saudi aggression, and siege.” 

Yemen’s Sunni religious leaders -- more than 400 scholars, Imams, and clerics -- attend a conference in Hodeida on March 26, 2016, under the slogan "together to reject sectarianism, aggression and siege.”

Sunni scholar Taher Anam, who attended the conference, told MintPress:

The war on Yemen is a Saudi war, not a sectarian war, it is not for supporting Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government or against the country’s Houthi advancement. Surely it is against all Yemenis.”

Top Photo | Supporters of Yemen’s Houthi Shias attend a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Yemen’s revolution in Sanaa, Sept. 21, 2017. Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Houthis, accused the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE of seeking to divide Yemen. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

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Yemen’s Houthis See Ballistic Missiles as Last Hope to Deter Saudi Aggression – by Ahmed Abdulkareem and Randi Nord (MINT PRESS)

This photo, provided by the media bureau of Army ’s Operations to MintPress, shows a Yemeni missile shortly after launch toward King Khaled bin Abdulaziz Airport, Riyadh on the third anniversary of war against Yemen, March 26, 2018 (MintPress News)

Yemen’s Houthis, bloodied and besieged by three years of a brutal Saudi bombing campaign, are taking the offensive and forcing Saudi Arabia to confront its war on its own soil.

SANA’A, YEMEN (Report) – Saudi Arabia’s bloody war on Yemen has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, including more than a quarter of a million children, since it’s onset in March 2015, and it shows no signs of letting up. On April 2, Saudi warplanes targeted a refugee camp in Yemen’s Hodeidah province, leaving piles of dead children in its wake. Fourteen people were killed in the attack, including seven children and three women. On Sunday, April 9, Saudi warplanes launched a series of air raids on a farm in Taiz, killing a family of 12. And few Yemenis could forget October 2016, when Riyadh targeted a funeral in the capital city of Sana’a, killing over 160 and injuring 600. Funerals, weddings, markets, and other large gatherings are routine targets for airstrikes, along with cemeteries, mosques, and archaeological and cultural sites, including the ancient Marib Dam and a number of museums.

It is in this context that, following three years of war, Yemen’s Houthi military leadership announced a new wave of retaliation for the ongoing Saudi-led coalition’s campaign against the country.

Despite the odds against it, Yemen’s military has given no indication it plans to cede to Saudi pressure. It began this week with a campaign of retaliatory strikes against the Gulf Kingdom and its allies, using unmanned drones and a barrage of domestically produced long-range ballistic missiles to hit vital facilities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The strikes are the latest evidence of a long-running effort to shore up domestic military capability, including missile production, since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their Western backers began their assault in March of 2015

Yemen’s domestic military capability is largely absent from coverage of the conflict in English-language media, which often portray the Houthis as a group of ragtag rebels able to secure only a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles (ostensibly smuggled into the country by Iran). But, over the past three years, military institutions in the capital Sana’a have devoted considerable time, energy, and resources to advancing the country’s missile program.

Officials and citizens alike consider the domestic missile program a vital component of national defense against the well-equipped Saudi military, which receives unfettered access to advanced U.S. and British arms. “Yemenis see the missile program as a human right to self-defense just as any other nation would — especially a nation under daily airstrikes on civilian areas,” Ali Al Quhom, a member of The Political Bureau of Ansarullah (Houthis) told MintPress News.

To better understand the impetus for the missile program, and the motivations behind it, MintPress spoke to Yemeni Brigadier-General Aziz Rashid, Supreme Political Council Secretary Dr. Yaser Al-Houri, and a retired Yemeni Army brigadier.

 

Early days of the Saudi Assault

Almost as soon as the Saudi war on Yemen began, Houthi leadership scrambled to retain some sort of retaliatory capability. In the first days of the war, a Saudi airstrike destroyed a weapons-storage facility containing many of Yemen’s domestically developed ballistic missiles and anti-aircraft guns. Less than three months later, domestic missile production was operational again and on June 6, 2015, Yemen’s Missile Force launched its first homegrown ballistic missile — a Scud with a range of more than 800 km — toward the King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Airport in southern Saudi Arabia.

Three months later, the Yemeni Air Force launched its newly created “Tochka” ballistic missile against a Saudi military base in Safer, eastern Yemen, causing a huge blast and inflicting numerous casualties on coalition troops. Fifty-two Emirati, 10 Saudi, and five Bahraini troops, as well as dozens of Saudi-backed mercenaries, were killed in the attack.

On September 7, 2016, a new ballistic missile dubbed the “Borkan H-1” (or “Volcano H-1”) was unveiled. The Borkan is a modified Scud, and was used to strike a military base near Riyadh, more than 800 km from Yemen’s northern border. Later, the Yemeni Air Force unveiled the “Borkan H-2”, which was able to evade U.S. Patriot missiles defenses and land near the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh.

In February 2017, the Houthis unveiled four domestically manufactured drones — the Qasef-1 (Striker-1), the Hudhud-1 (Hoopoe-1), the Raqib (Observer), and the Rased (Surveyor) — all of which perform a variety of tasks, including aerial monitoring, battlefield observation, and geophysical surveying.

The Houthis have also modified Soviet missiles for use in the war, including the Qaher 2, which is a domestically modified Soviet SA-2 missile that boasts a range of over 300 km. This Qaher 2, which contains a 200-to-400 kg warhead, struck a military base located 966 km south of Riyadh on April 1, 2018, making it the very first Yemeni rocket to reach such a distance.

Hesham S. Al-Kibsi, a journalist in Sana’a, told MintPress:

When the Saudi-led/U.S.-backed aggression first started, they [the aggressors] were sure they would occupy the whole of Yemen in a few weeks just like they announced. Little did they know that Yemenis would build drones and missiles that would shower their military and economic installations deep in the heart of Saudi territory.”

 

Yemen goes on the offensive

Living under the constant threat of Saudi and coalition airstrikes has not deterred Yemen from building its burgeoning domestic military capability. “In the coming period, we will launch missiles every day and Saudi Arabia will not be safe from Yemeni missiles, no matter how they plan their defense systems,” President Saleh Al-Sammad announced shortly before he was killed by a coalition airstrike.

Brigadier-General Sharaf Ghalib Luqman echoed al-Sammad, stating “rocketry operations will continue as long as the aggression continues to commit crimes against the Yemeni people. The latest was its mercenaries’ assault of a woman in the West Coast.” referring to the rape of a Yemeni woman in Hodeidah by a Sudanese Janjaweed mercenary employed by the Saudi coalition.

And that is exactly what the Houthis are doing. While the missile program began in earnest almost as soon as the conflict began, the most recent campaign against the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition includes the development of a new line of short- and long-range ballistic missiles capable of attacks against military sites and economic targets inside of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

According to a recent statistic MintPress obtained from the Yemeni Army’s Military Media Department, the Air Force has already launched a total of 102 long-range missiles — including 31 Qaher 1 and 2 (Subdue 1 and 2), five Scud missiles, 57 Borkan, 14 Tochka, two Cruise-type missiles, in addition to 44 Zelzal, and 46 Badr-1, as well as 17 short-range ballistic missiles.

The Houthis also possess short-range tactical missiles, including the domestically manufactured “al-Najim al-Thaqib,” which is Arabic for “The Piercing Star.” The Piercing Star 1 is 3m long and has a range of 45 km and holds a 50 kg payload. Its second iteration, The Piercing Star 2, is 5m long and has a range of 75 km with a 75 kg payload. Both versions have fixed stabilization grid fins and are launched from rails rather than tubes.

On April 11, the Houthis launched a major attack on the Saudi army. The attack began with artillery shelling directly striking ranks of the Saudi military and was followed with a barrage of Borkan 2 long-range ballistic missiles against the Saudi Defense Ministry building in Riyadh, an Aramco oil facility in Jizan, as well as other undisclosed targets inside Saudi territory.

Although Saudi Arabia claims its American-made Patriot missile defense system intercepts most of Yemen’s ballistic missiles, a large crop of videos and photos circulating on social media, as well as assessments by military analysts suggest otherwise.

A barrage of Yemeni missiles was also launched against Saudi targets on the third anniversary of the Saudi-led war, weeks before the attacks on Riyadh and Jizan. Yemen’s Missile Force also struck King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in southern Saudi Arabia a total of three times with Borkan missiles — the most recent strike taking place on March 26.

Houthi leadership has not reserved its missile-centric strategy for Saudi Arabia alone;  the Gulf’s kingdom’s closest Arab ally in the war, the UAE, has not been immune to missile attacks. Yemeni forces targeted the $20 billion Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi’s far western desert with a winged cruise missile — though the UAE denied the attack, later saying the country “possesses an air defense system capable of dealing with any threat of any kind.” In a statement, authorities in the UAE told residents “not to pay attention to such rumors disseminated by media agencies issuing false news that question the UAE’s capabilities, strength and security.”

The Houthis have stated they now consider high-value economic sites to be legitimate military targets, adding that impacting Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s sources of capital — their lifeblood — is an appropriate defensive response to the siege and blockade that has devastated Yemen’s economy and adversely affected the value of Yemen’s currency, the Rial.

On the anniversary of war against Yemen, AbdulMalik al-Houthi (leader of the Houthi movement running state affairs in the absence of an official administration) vowed to step-up use of long-range weaponry and recruit more fighters in a bid to confront the Saudi-led war effort against his country:

In the fourth year of the war, we will use more developed and more diverse missile systems, which will penetrate all American and non-American air defense systems to target Saudi Arabia.”

 

Awash in weapons

Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies have been quick to lay blame on Iran for providing the Houthis their ballistic missile arsenal — a move they claim violates Saudi Arabia’s blockade of Yemen, which has been denounced by both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch for its devastating humanitarian impact, as well as a violation of the ‘spirit’ of the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). However, documents from the Yemeni Ministry of Defense reveal that both the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) purchased ballistic missiles from the Soviet Union and Korea during the Cold War in the 1980s and 2000s.

In fact, the late Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh was a close ally of former U.S. President George W. Bush during the early years of the “War on Terror.” During that period Saleh received substantial military assistance — at least $400 million worth of weapons and equipment — from the United States. Saleh then handed Yemen’s arsenal of ballistic missiles, as well as other weapons and equipment, to Abdrabbuh Mansour al-Hadi’s government in 2012. The Houthi movement and its allies took control of the storage facilities housing those weapons during the 2014 revolution. As for small arms, Yemen ranks in the top three for the number of weapons per capita — second only to the United States and Serbia.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a retired Yemeni Army brigadier who participated in arms deals during the 1980s told MintPress:

We purchased hundreds of Scuds and Tochka missiles from the Soviet Union during the Cold War and from [North] Korea as well. . . .

A typical Scud missile, a Soviet-era missile with a limited range that Yemeni forces have based their domestically developed Borkan-2 missile on, is more than 11 meters long and weighs between 4 and 6 tons depending on its type. Smuggling such a large and heavy piece of weaponry into Yemen is impossible.”

The Houthis reject Nikki Haley’s claims that Iran smuggled missiles into Yemen. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, dismissing these claims, told France 24 TV:

If we had the alleged Iranian support, we would have been in Riyadh today. If we had the Iranian technology, we would have used it to target the enemies starting from the first day. … We are developing and manufacturing our own missiles on the basis of Russian and North Korean technologies. The projectiles have no Iranian know-how incorporated in them.”

Army spokesman Sharaf Ghalib Luqman confirmed Yemen’s Missile Force developed the Badr-1, the Qaher 1 and 2, as well as the Borkan 1 and 2 to strike high-value targets inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

 

The need for and right to national self-defense

U.S. media coverage of the conflict often tends not to veer far from the Saudi line, portraying the Houthis as aggressors and violent rebels and underplaying the support Washington provides to Saudi Arabia, including intelligence and logistical support for devastating Saudi airstrikes.  Houthi military leadership sees this as an affront to their right to self-defense, but also view the nature of the coverage as an attempt to disguise Riyadh and Washington’s military failures, as the well-equipped coalition has failed to conquer one of the poorest nations on Earth.

As Dr. Yaser Al-Houri, Secretary of Supreme Political Council, the highest authority in the country, explained to MintPress:

Nikki Haley’s claims are a terrible failure. She does not want to admit the U.S. fiasco in Yemen despite using sophisticated surveillance systems. Her claims are also to distract attention from the failure of the U.S. Patriot missile defense system vs. Yemeni rocket attacks. These missiles have been produced or developed by the Yemenis and our military industry, so whatever they believe, we will defend ourselves. We have the right to possess all means to do so as long as the Saudi-led coalition continues bombing Yemen with internationally prohibited weapons.

Ebrahim Abdulkareem lost his daughter in a Saudi air strike, his tragic photo along with his dead daughter has spread throughout the world.

Meanwhile no one condemned the Saudi massacre; instead the White House and Haley issued a statement condemning the Yemeni missile attack targeting Saudi military sites; the U.S. is full of duplicity!”

Former Houthi President, the late Saleh Ali al-Samad, echoed these sentiments on April 2, when he told a group of graduating cadets in Sana’a:

The Yemeni Army would not hesitate to buy weapons if it could bypass the siege, for it has the right to face the Saudi aggression. We do not necessarily need to purchase weapons because we have manufactured them.

We are ready to buy weapons from any state that has the willingness to sell us any, whether it is Russia or Iran. But that is only in one case: if they are capable of entering them.”

Brigadier-General Aziz Rashid also denied the allegations, telling MintPress:

These claims are made in order to mislead public opinion and are one part of a media war launched by Arab and Western media against us.

We’ve managed to upgrade these missiles here, by ourselves. We are besieged from all sides on land, water and air. In these conditions, it would be impossible to receive missile shipments from Iran.”

According to senior Houthi leaders we spoke to, the retaliatory military operations will continue — and escalate — as long as the Saudi-U.S. war and siege continue. The country has unified and organized to defend itself — the ballistic missile program and growing military advancements are a reflection of this.

Sana’a journalist Hesham S. Al-Kibsi explained the grassroots unifying nature of Yemen’s missile program and resistance movement:

This is the only way they will feel the consequences of their atrocities. People from all walks of life have sent their sons and their savings to Yemen’s Military and Popular Committees to fend off this aggression. Doctors, engineers, lawyers and other workers are all contributing to the war effort in various aspects so that they can live with their families free and safe.”

Top Photo | This photo, provided by the Houthi media bureau of Army Operations to MintPress, shows a Yemeni missile shortly after launch toward King Khaled bin Abdulaziz Airport, Riyadh on the third anniversary of war against Yemen, March 26, 2018.

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With MSM AWOL on Yemen, MintPress News Series To Give Yemenis Back Their Voice – by Mnar Muhawesh ( Mint Press)

A girl carries a bucket filled with water from a well that is allegedly contaminated with cholera bacteria, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The U.N. health agency said Tuesday that plans to ship cholera vaccine to Yemen are likely to be shelved over security, access and logistical challenges in the war-torn country. Yemen's suspected cholera caseload has surged past 313,000, causing over 1,700 deaths in the world's largest outbreak. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

What’s really happening in the poorest country in the Middle East is a test of our humanity — a catastrophic, perfect storm of suffering and death, and the most horrific genocide you’ve likely never heard of.

SANA’A, Yemen — As the U.S.-Saudi-led war against Yemen enters its third year, the people of this coffin-shaped nation on the Arabian peninsula find themselves struggling not only to survive but to be seen and heard by a mainstream media that is preoccupied with war in neighboring Syria, the resumption of Cold War-like tensions with Russia, and President Trump’s Twitter account and sex life.

When the international press corps does shine a light on the conflict in Yemen, it is described as a sectarian affair, a bloodless, “video-game” battle fought by nameless Iranian proxies against Saudi Arabia.  But what’s really happening in the poorest country in the Middle East is a test of our humanity — a catastrophic, perfect storm of suffering and death, and the most horrific genocide you’ve likely never heard of.

Consider these stark realities:

The people of Yemen are without food, water, medicine, and fuel. According to the United Nations, more than half of Yemen’s 28 million people are facing food shortages, and international relief workers estimate that a staggering 150,000 Yemenis died from starvation last year alone. The nongovernmental organization, Save the Children, puts the number of children currently dying of starvation at 130 per day, owing largely to the Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports.

In addition, half of the country’s health care infrastructure has been destroyed. Saudi Arabia is striking Yemen’s hospitals, which are running out of medicine and supplies to treat the wounded. All the while, these attacks have continued to receive backing from the United States and the United Kingdom since their onset on March 26, 2015.

The death toll in Yemen is so high that the Red Cross is even donating morgues to hospitals. And if that weren’t enough, the military campaign has not only empowered al-Qaida to step into a vulnerable situation, it’s actually made the group richer, according to Reuters.

Still, the Saudi government continues to block any diplomatic resolution in Yemen. Riyadh even threatened to cut funding to the UN over its inclusion on a list of children’s rights offenders, effectively weaponizing humanitarian aid.

Unimaginably, the situation could get much worse: in his administration’s final days, President Barack Obama sold the unscrupulous Saudis skin-melting white phosphorous.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, told Al Jazeera last month: “The situation in Yemen .  . . looks like the apocalypse.”

In the weeks that follow, MintPress plans to break the lock-box on the war and humanitarian crisis that is stalking the poorest country in the Middle East, with a series of stories from our reporters on the ground. Our goal is merely this: by giving shape and form and voice to the Yemeni people who have been rendered all but invisible and mute, we hope to chronicle this epochal war, account for the despair, and explain, in painstaking detail, David’s strategy for defeating Goliath, once again.

Top Photo | A girl carries a bucket filled with water from a well that is allegedly contaminated with cholera bacteria, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups. She started her career as an independent multimedia journalist covering Midwest and national politics while focusing on civil liberties and social justice issues posting her reporting and exclusive interviews on her blog MintPress, which she later turned MintPress into the global news source it is today. In 2009, Muhawesh also became the first American woman to wear the hijab to anchor/report the news in American media. Muhawesh is also a wife and mother of a rascal four year old boy, juggling her duties as a CEO and motherly tasks successfully as supermom. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com. Follow Mnar on Twitter at @mnarmuh

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