As US Pivots from Afghanistan to Yemen, Al-Mahrah Copes with Increasing Military Presence

June 30th, 2021

US troops in Yemen

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

Residents in eastern Yemen see the surge of U.S. military personnel as malign and colonial in nature and worry that it will bring not only chaos and instability to their region but could also bring with it the infamous human rights abuses and horrific violations that took place in Afghanistan and Iraq.

AL-MAHRAH, YEMEN — Eastern Yemen has been largely spared the country’s grueling six-year war, with U.S. military personnel in the region, once a rare sight, garnering little more than a curious stare from the passing onlooker. But a new sense of anxiety has settled over the residents of the eastern Al-Mahrah Province amid stories of violent midnight raids by American and Saudi commandos and an increasingly visible U.S. military presence in the region.

In June 2019, a team of U.S. Marines supported by Saudi forces raided a populated neighborhood, dubbed the “Qatar quarter,” in al-Ghaydah city in Al-Mahrah. Witnesses to the raid told MintPress that they believe it was carried out on information provided by local informants. The raid allegedly targeted a home rented by militants fighting on behalf of the Saudi-led Coalition who had just returned from fighting in Marib. The operation provoked fear and questions among neighborhood residents, as three Yemenis and one Saudi were detained as well as many women and children. Locals claim the captives were then taken to al-Ghaydah Airport, where the U.S. military has a presence, according to witnesses and security sources. The conditions of their detention were reportedly similar to detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, which, according to locals, included being blindfolded and beaten.

“It was about 8:40 a.m. when we were startled by the sounds of American and Saudi troops raiding a nearby house. My sons and daughters were terrified. The chaos and yelling echoed through [the neighborhood],” a resident of the Qatar quarter told MintPress, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. He continued: “After a few moments, many blindfolded people accompanied by women and children were dragged into one of the military vehicles in a humiliatingly provocative manner.” As he recounted the story, it was clear he was holding back tears; he concluded: ”The scene was [reminiscent] of the raids by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they’re taking place here, not in Fallujah. We haven’t felt safe since.”

U.S. military surges bring chaos, human-rights abuses

Residents in eastern Yemen see the surge of U.S. military personnel as malign and colonial in nature and worry that it will bring not only chaos and instability to their region but could also bring with it the infamous human rights abuses and horrific violations that took place in Afghanistan and Iraq, where thousands of civilians were killed or tortured, some by American troops, others by private military contractors like Blackwater.

Saudi Arabia claims that a man it later identified by his nom de guerre, Abu Osama al-Muhajir, the leader of the Islamic State’s Yemen branch, was captured in the raid along with the group’s finance officer and a number of other fighters. An official Saudi press release makes no mention of cooperation with U.S. forces in carrying out the raid but, according to eyewitnesses and local security sources, “their bodies and accents were unmistakably [American] to the residents.

Working the ‘war on terror’

Coinciding with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, security experts believe that the Biden administration is strengthening its presence in eastern Yemen, under the pretext of fighting terrorism and preventing the transfer of arms from Iran to the Houthis. President Joe Biden has indeed admitted to a U.S. military presence in the war-torn country. In his letter to Congress, Biden said that “a small number of United States military personnel are deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and IS.” He added, “The United States military continues to work closely with the Government of the Republic of Yemen and regional partner forces to degrade the terrorist threat posed by those groups.”

In addition to their military presence at al-Ghaydah Airport and on the waters of Yemen’s eastern cities, U.S. forces also have a small base in the so-called Empty Quarter between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, used for launching drones and to pursue those it describes as terrorists in addition to providing “logistical support” to Saudi Arabia. Dozens of the U.S. Marines recently arrived in Al-Mahrah and Socotra, according to locals who spoke to MintPress. U.S. intelligence agencies do indeed consider AQAP the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda because of its technical expertise and global reach, but many activists, journalists, and local media have warned that the Saudi military occupation is taking place under the cover of the U.S. forces not to combat the overblown threat from AQAP but to allow Saudi Arabia to establish a long-term presence in the province.

Yemen Mahra
Fighters loyal to Saudi-led colation stand guard in Marib, Yemen. Jon Gambrell | AP

The shoring up of the American military presence in the province, home to untapped and potentially lucrative massive oil reserves, comes on the back of several visits by high-ranking American officials to the region. In 2018, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) visited Aden, and former President Donald Trump’s adviser Francis Townsend visited Al-Mahrah in March 2020. Christopher Henzel, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, made a surprise visit to Al-Mahrah last December, coming from Riyadh as Yemenis were celebrating Independence Day, an occasion commemorating the end of British occupation in northern Yemen. Henzel visited American forces stationed at al-Ghaydah Airport, according to the Al-Mahrah Governorate authorities.

Yemeni NGOs and government officials have been complaining for years that al-Ghaydah Airport is home to secret prisons where Abu Ghraib-style human rights abuses and outright torture are carried out. Local residents believe the abuses are taking place under the supervision of the American forces, or with their knowledge at a minimum, according to Ahmed al-Ali, the head of Southern National Committee to Resist the Invasion, a group dedicated to the protest of a Saudi military presence in the region.

Protests, and even some armed confrontations, have broken out as people in Al-Mahrah fight back against what many view as a Saudi takeover of their governorate. Over the past three years, Saudi Arabia has tightened its control over the province, which borders Oman to the east. In addition to establishing a military presence, the Saudis have tried to exert soft power by establishing Salafist-inspired madrassas and a policy of naturalization and humanitarian aid, a move local authorities claim is being carried out with the support of the United States.

Palpable public anger

The U.S. military presence in the region has also been met with strong local opposition and, rather than reducing any alleged terrorist threat, it has instead handed a highly effective recruiting tool to AQAP. Public anger and frustration against the United States in Yemen are palatable and follow on the heels of the infamous Obama-era drone strikes and raids that killed scores of innocent people at weddings and funerals.

Al-Mahrah residents, by and large, don’t buy into the pretext of fighting terrorism or preventing arms smuggling that is used to justify the foreign military presence in the province. They accuse Saudi Arabia and the U.S. of spreading propaganda and exaggerating the threat of al-Qaeda and ISIS in order to justify their presence, according to the Peaceful Sit-in Committee, a group formed by Al-Mahrah residents to protest any foreign presence in the province.

Yemen US troops
A Yemeni fishing vessel is stopped by US commandos who later claimed it was being used to smuggle weapons into Yemen. Photo | DVIDS

The vice-chairman of the Peaceful Sit-in Committee, Sheikh Aboud Haboud Qumsit, accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of seeking to portray Al-Mahrah as an al-Qaeda stronghold. He added, “We make it clear to everyone that these allegations are scandalous and Al-Mahrah will not be a stronghold of al-Qaeda and IS.” He even accused the Saudi-led Coalition forces of being behind any surge in terrorist elements in the region, saying “al-Qaeda and IS have been brought to the province and used to reinforce the foreign presence in Al-Mahrah.”

The increased U.S. military presence in Yemen is not the only provocation giving rise to a sense of frustration and hopelessness. President Biden’s ongoing support of the Saudi-led Coalition’s offensive operations — including its blockade, which is central to Yemen’s disastrous food and fuel shortages — has caused most Yemenis to lose hope that the new U.S. administration will bring about a change in U.S. policy.

On Wednesday, a U.S.-made ScanEagle drone was downed above Marib in an area that has seen heavy fighting between local fighters supporting Ansar Allah and fighters loyal to the Saudi-led Coalition. Footage of the drone after it was shot down, viewed by MintPress, identified the wreckage as belonging to a ScanEagle and bearing a CAGE, the number of a subsidiary of U.S. weapons-maker Boeing. Despite the video evidence, the U.S. has denied the charge.

As local resistance to the American presence in the region grows, it is likely that protests and armed resistance will follow. Military experts in Yemen believe that it is only a matter of time before al-Ghaydah Airport — which hosts American, British and Saudi forces — will come under the same sort of politically charged attacks levied against American forces in Iraq.

TV report on Muslim Brotherhood’s varying stances towards Israel

June 27, 2021

Description:

A TV report on the divergent political stances towards Israel of the Muslim Brotherhood’s various branches across the Arab and Islamic world.

Source: Al Mayadeen TV (You Tube)

Date: June 7, 2021

(Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations by contributing a small monthly amount here )

Transcript:

UAE’s foreign minister Abdullah Bin Zayed put the name of the Muslim Brotherhood next to (the names of) Hezbollah and Hamas in a striking statement in which he attacked both resistance groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement however, no longer has a unified (political) direction, as it has undergone radical shifts following the so-called Arab Spring, especially when branches of (the movement) came to power in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. (The movement( was also strongly present in the Syrian crisis. (During this time), the objective of the US and the West in general was to support the movement’s branches in order to develop a new policy that accepts Israel, then normalizes (relations) with it.

It is normal for the branches of the movement in different countries to have their differences. However, with its rise into positions of power and its need to deal with projects such as the “Deal of the Century” and the subsequent surrender (to Israel) agreements,  the movement has witnessed a deep divergence in attitudes and (political) positioning.

In Morocco, for example,  the Justice and Development Party faced a dilemma in relation to its convictions (on the one hand), and the needs of the government (on the other), but this did not prevent it from normalizing (relations) with Israel.

In Tunisia, the Renaissance movement (Ennahda) has stifled – on many occasions – the (parliamentary initiative) to criminalize any normalization with the Israeli occupation, despite Ennahda expressing its support for the Palestinian people and its opposition to normalization.

While in power, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt adhered to the Camp David Accords, (thereby) obliterating the history of the movement, However, after losing power, it rejected the American Deal of the Century and its implications.

The harm caused by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to the current fighting against the submissive (‘peace’) projects (with Israel), and the provocative stances of some of its leaders against the Palestinian resistance factions during the “Sword of al-Quds” battle also goes without saying.

Many labels have been used (by the movement) to justify abandoning (its) principles, such as rationality and keeping ‘in touch’ with the (changing) circumstances. In fact, Qatar and Turkey acted as the supporter and the model for some of the Brotherhood branches, in that Doha maintains strong relations with Tel-Aviv, while Ankara has official relations with the Israeli entity.

However, unlike the aberration and illusions of the aforementioned branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, other branches in Algeria and Jordan have taken honorable positions against normalization (with Israel) to the point where they called for direct confrontation against the ‘Deal of the Century’ and the Gulf normalization projects with Israel. 


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TV report on how Yemeni UAVs are changing course of Saudi war

June 09, 2021

Description:

A Yemeni TV report on the “game-changing effects” of low-cost attack drones on the course of the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.

Source: Al Masirah TV (YouTube)

Date: May 2, 2021

(Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations by contributing a small monthly amount here )

Transcript:

Eight drone strikes have targeted King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushait since the start of the holy month (of Ramadan). Since the beginning of the US-Saudi aggression on Yemen, drone operations – in addition to other air operations – have been striking the (King Khalid) Air Base as a main target.

The series of intensive attacks against the most important military base in the southern region of the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) has shown the inability of modern US defense systems to intercept or destroy these drones. This turn of events has complicated the process of dealing with this type of weapon which is low-cost, but great in effect.

The impact that the (Yemeni) drone operations have had on the workflow of the largest air base in the south of the Kingdom can be clearly seen in the disruption each air operation brings about at most airports in the south of the Kingdom, especially since the operation of defense systems throughout the southern region requires stopping air traffic in order for the defense radars to efficiently monitor the airspace.

Riyadh realizes that the military capabilities that Sana’a possesses have greatly influenced the course of the battle. It also realizes that its military spending on additional weapons did not put an end to its military retreat, especially as US reports acknowledge the difficulty of dealing with this new generation of drones.

The (US-Saudi) aggression coalition’s reliance on its air and military superiority is dwindling in the face of the effectiveness of the Yemeni (military) capabilities, which the (Yemeni) armed forces assert are meant for deterrence and responding to the continuing aggression and siege.


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As Tide Turns, Houthis Reject US, Saudi “Peace” Deals for the Recycled Trash They Are

The Houthis — empowered by six years of perseverance amid one of the most violent wars against some of the world’s most powerful military forces, not to mention the ability to reject the proposals set forth by those same powers — have little incentive to accept Riyadh or Washington’s “peace” offers.

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

SANA’A, YEMEN — March 26 marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign in the war-torn country of Yemen and massive demonstrations took place across the country on Friday in commemoration.

Hundreds of thousands of people took the streets in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a near the besieged Sana’a International Airport, and in Hodeida, home of the country’s largest and most important seaport. In fact, thousands of Yemenis gathered in more than twenty city squares across the northern provinces, carrying Yemeni flags and holding banners emblazoned with messages of steadfastness and promises to liberate the entire country from Saudi control. Images of the demonstrations show a sea of Yemeni flags, posters bearing pictures of Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, and the slogan “Six years of aggression — We are ready for the seventh year — We will win.”

“We are here to send a message to both the United States and Saudi Arabia that we are ready to make more sacrifices against the Saudi-led Coalition,” Nayef Haydan, a leader of the Yemeni Socialist Party and member of the Yemeni Shura Council, said. “Any peace initiative must contain a permanent end to the war, lift the blockade completely, include a detailed reconstruction program, and compensate Yemenis,” he added.

Having bombed for six years, Saudis now talk peace

For six years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the richest countries on the planet, have relentlessly bombed the poorest nation in the Middle East, with crucial assistance from three consecutive U.S. administrations. For 2,160 days — six years straight — the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force have, with American assistance, launched nearly 600,000 airstrikes in Yemen. The bombing has targeted civilian homes, schools, hospitals, roads, funerals, food facilities, factories, mosques, water, pumps and sewage, markets, refugee camps, historical cities, fishing boats, fuel stations, a school bus full of children, and Bedouin camps, making any potential reconstruction very long and costly.

The bombing continues even as talks of new peace initiatives begin to surface. Just last Sunday, March 21, consecutive Saudi airstrikes destroyed a poultry farm in Amran province. The attack was especially egregious as Yemen is suffering from one of the most severe famines in recent history. In fact, the country faces a humanitarian, economic, and political crisis of a magnitude not seen in decades. According to the United Nations, almost 16 million Yemenis live under famine, with 2.5 million children suffering from malnutrition. And thousands of Yemeni state workers now face hunger as their salaries have gone unpaid for years after the Saudi Coalition seized control of the country’s central bank.

Relentless destruction

As the war enters its seventh year, the country’s war-weary masses face grim new milestones. The fastest growing outbreak of cholera ever recorded and outbreaks of swine flu, rabies, diphtheria and measles are among the man-made biological threats facing Yemen. Meanwhile, hundreds of Yemenis are dying of Covid-19 every day amid a collapsed and destroyed health system. Many of these diseases and crises are not natural but have been created, artificially and intentionally, by Saudi Arabia. The U.S.-backed Saudi Coalition has completely or partially destroyed at least 523 healthcare facilities and bombed at least 100 ambulances, according to a report from the Sana’a-based Ministry of Health issued last Tuesday.

Years after Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports, halting life-saving supplies, Yemenis are still suffering from a lack of food, fuel and medicine. Hodeida Port, which is the primary entry point for most of Yemen’s food imports, is still under a strict Saudi blockade; even humanitarian aid is prevented from reaching the port. Sana’a International Airport, which has been bombed heavily by the Saudi Air Force in the past two weeks, has been blocked almost since the war began, leaving thousands of medical patients to die prematurely because they were unable to travel abroad for treatment.

Yemenis for their part, have resorted to targeting the Saudi Coalition in its own backyard. Hoping that taking the battle to the Kingdom will exact enough of a toll on the Saudi monarchy to cause it to rethink its quagmire in Yemen, Houthi missiles and drones have had increasing success in striking Saudi oil infrastructure, airports and military bases, leaving Saudi soil exposed to daily bombardment for the first time since the Al Saud family established their state.

In a recent statement, the spokesman for the Ansar Allah-backed Yemen Army claimed that its Air Force had carried out more than 12,623 drone strikes and reconnaissance operations during the past six years and that, in the past two months alone, 54 high-precision ballistic missiles have been fired at vital Saudi targets, some of them deep inside Saudi Arabia.

Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Abha Airport was attacked by a number of drones, and on Friday, a facility belonging to Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco in the Saudi capital of Riyadh was hit with six drones, causing damage to the facility, according to Yemen military sources.

Saudi futility

Despite its enormous onslaught, lethal Western weapons, and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on this war, Saudi Arabia has been unable to crush the will of the Yemeni people, who continue to fight for independence and sovereignty. At the end of March 2015, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman promised confidently that it would all be over within a few weeks and that Ansar Allah would quickly surrender. Now, after six years of war, Bin Salman has not only been unable to defeat The Houthis. Instead, it is The Houthis remain steadfast in their resistance and have grown even more powerful, leading to much consternation in Saudi Arabia and a half-hearted attempt by Bin Salman to ask The Houthis to accept his country’s version of peace and free the Kingdom from the quagmire it has created for itself in Yemen.

As Yemenis make their final push to recapture the strategic city of Marib, amid failed U.S. efforts to protect their Saudi ally from Houthi ballistic missiles and drones, both Washington and Riyadh have presented peace initiatives in an effort to stem the tide of Saudi Coalition military defeats. Those initiatives, however, fail to address or alleviate the humanitarian plight of Yemenis, end the war, or even lift the blockade.

Sour wine in new bottles

On March 12, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking announced an initiative to end the war during a webinar with the Atlantic Council. The plan is essentially a recycled version of a previous proposal presented by Mohammed Bin Salman and the Trump administration one year ago in Oman, dubbed “The Joint Declaration.” It contains a matrix of Saudi principles and conditions aimed at the surrender of the Yemen Army, the Houthis, and their allies, in exchange for an end to the war. Lenderking’s initiative gives no guarantee that the Coalition will take any measures to lift its blockade and end the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On March 22, Saudi Arabia announced its own “ceasefire initiative” to end the war it announced from Washington D.C. six years ago. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan revealed the initiative, which would include a nationwide ceasefire under the supervision of the UN and a partial re-opening of the Sana’a International Airport to certain destinations. It also included a revenue-sharing plan that would guarantee the Saudi government access to a portion of the wealth generated by Yemen’s oil and gas deposits in Marib.

Come back when you’re serious

Both initiatives were rejected by Sana’a. “We reject the American and Saudi peace initiatives because they do not meet the demands of the Yemeni people,” Khaled Al-Sharif, chairman of the Supreme Elections Committee, said of the proposals during a meeting held in Sana’a on Monday. According to many Yemenis, including decision-makers in Sana’a, the U.S. and Saudi plans are not intended to achieve peace, but to advance their political goals in the face of an imminent military failure following six costly years of war. The measures, according to officials in Sana’a, are also about saving face and presenting an untenable plan, so that when it is inevitably rejected the tide of public opinion will turn in favor of the Saudi-led Coalition.

In a live televised speech commemorating the sixth anniversary of the war on Thursday afternoon, ِAbdulMalik al Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, refused Washington and Riyadh’s initiatives, explaining:

The Americans, the Saudis, and some countries have tried to persuade us to barter the humanitarian file for military and political agreements. We refuse that.

Access to oil products, food, medical and basic materials is a human and legal right that cannot be bartered in return for military and political extortion.

We are, [however], ready for an honorable peace in which there is no trade-off for our people’s right to freedom and independence or to Yemen’s legitimate entitlements.”

The Houthi leadership views the policies of the Biden administration as not far removed from those of his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Biden’s administration is following the same policies as those of former President Donald Trump. [They] have not offered a new plan for peace in Yemen. Washington has rather presented an old plan for the resolution of the conflict,” Ansar Allah spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said, adding that the U.S. plan does not offer anything new. ”The plan has placed conditions for the opening of the Hodeida port and Sana’a International Airport, which are unacceptable,” he concluded.

No retreat, no surrender

The Houthis — empowered by six years of perseverance amid one of the most violent wars against some of the world’s most powerful military forces, not to mention the ability to reject the proposals set forth by those same powers — have little incentive to accept Riyadh’s offer. They see the end to the conflict coming from Washington in the form of an announcement of an immediate ceasefire, a departure of all foreign forces from the country, and lifting of the air and sea blockade as a pre-condition for any deal. “They should have demonstrated their seriousness for the establishment of peace by allowing food and fuel to dock at the port of Hodeida rather than put forth proposals,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.

Over two thousand consecutive days of war have proven that Saudi Arabia is not ready to bring peace to war-torn Yemen. With the exception of a fragile ceasefire in Hodeida and a small number of prisoner releases, negotiations between the two sides generally reach a dead end, as Bin Salman looks for total surrender and nothing else. Numerous negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland in 2018. The Yemenis, who are now on the offensive, are unlikely to retreat or surrender. The offensive to recapture oil-rich Marib and sweep the shrinking areas that remain in Saudi control shows no signs of slowing down and, according to high-ranking military officials, the Saudi-controlled gas-rich province of Shabwa will be the next to be liberated. Moreover, retaliatory ballistic missiles and drone attacks against Saudi targets will continue.

Despite recent peace initiatives, the Saudi-led Coalition has only intensified military maneuvers in Yemen this week. Saudi warplanes are seen regularly above highly populated urban areas in the north of the country, dropping hundreds of tons of ordnance, most supplied by the United States. There is a near-consensus among the leadership of the Yemeni army and Ansar Allah that the current U.S. administration is participating in the battles taking place in the oil-rich Marib province. However, the Houthis have not directly accused the Biden administration of being involved in the fighting and are waiting for more evidence to do so. They may not have to wait long. On Tuesday, a sophisticated, U.S.-made MQ-9 Reaper drone was downed with a surface-to-air missile as it was flying over the Sirwah district in Marib.

Yemen’s Marib Offensive Born of Desperation, with No Sign Saudis/US Will Cease Their War

Yemen Feature photo

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

Having all but given up on the prospect of peaceful settlement under the administration of Joe Biden, the Houthis are now betting it all on retaking Yemen’s oil-rich Marib province from Saudi Arabia.

MARIB, YEMEN — Overcoming a rugged and Sahara-like desert climate and under the constant fire of Saudi warplanes, Tawfiq Hassan, a third-term Sufi law school student, along with a cadre of other young Yemeni fighters, partook in the recent liberation of the Nakhla Valley near the western gate of the city of Marib.

“To recapture Marib and its natural resources is the last chance to secure its oil,” Tawfiq told MintPress. But for Khaled Mudaher, a soldier in Yemen’s Republican Guard, liberating Marib is a sacred patriotic duty. ”They bomb us, kidnap our women, block medicine and fuel, and steal our wealth,” Mudaher lamented.

Battles over Yemen’s oil-rich Marib province, which lies only 100 kilometers east of the capital Sana’a, have raged on since 2015 when the war began. The clashes pit Saudi-led Coalition soldiers and their Salafist militant allies against Yemeni forces supported by the Houthis as well as partisans from local tribes. Those clashes have become more fierce as the war and Saudi-imposed blockade approach six years’ duration on March 26, and amid a new push by Sana’a to liberate the last strongholds of the Saudi-led Coalition from Riyadh’s control.

For the past few months, Yemeni forces have fought a grueling ground campaign to recapture strategic points on Marib battlefields, including villages and military positions surrounding Marib city. Across the western and north-western oil-rich fronts, fierce clashes have erupted as more and more local tribes join battles to reclaim ancient landmarks with evocative names from Saudi forces. From The Thunders and The Hunter’s Birthmark to the strategic Shower Heights overlooking the Dish of Jinn and the tribal Balkan Mountains near the famous Marib Dam itself, long battles slog on, peppered with small but frequent hit-and-run battles in outlying districts, including Altielat Alhamra. Coalition forces for their part claim that they are thwarting ٍSana’a’s advance and have recaptured many of the liberated sites.

Escalation born of desperation

The recent escalation is not only a result of the brutal siege and bombardment of Yemen, which has bred a communal sense of desperation, but it is also born from a recognition that there are no real intentions on behalf of the Saudis or Americans to stop the war. That sense of hopelessness has had fuel poured onto it in the form of violent acts carried out by Saudi forces that violate the core tenants and mores of Yemeni people, not to mention their very dignity.

On February 1, Saudi-backed militants raided the homes of an unknown number of displaced families in Marib and kidnapped seven women who were allegedly then sold to Saudi Arabia. Five of the women were kidnapped on a Saturday night and, as locals were still reeling, the militants returned the next morning and kidnapped two more women by force. The news quickly spread across Yemen and anger mounted, sparking dozens of protests against Saudi forces. Major tribes in Marib, who for decades have maintained either neutrality or loyalty to Saudi Arabia, held a meeting in Sana’a to declare their desire to create a united front and expel Saudi forces and their allies. The declaration came on the heels of historic non-aggression treaties signed between Houthi-backed Yemeni forces and elders from Marib’s indigenous tribes of Ubaidah, Murad, Jahm, and Jadaan in the weeks leading up to the kidnappings.

Tragic stories drive the fight

Yemen’s battlefields, especially those in Marib, are a picture of contradiction. On one side are the latest warplanes and weapons made by the likes of Raytheon and BAE; fighters from a variety of backgrounds, including al-Qaeda and ISIS; Egyptians; American and British experts; and an extensive network of intelligence agents from around the world monitoring everything. On the other, young partisans with Kalashnikovs and machine guns; sometimes artillery or missiles mounted to the back of an old pickup truck; and explosive charges, usually old Soviet-era RPGs. They advance under heavy airstrikes and bombings through the rugged terrain, usually wearing sandals but sometimes barefoot.

There are no paranormal forces aiding their advance, but incentives born out of desperation. Some are steeped in patriotism, some bear a sense of religious duty; but a majority are driven by some tragic story. A loved-one lost in an airstrike or to hunger or disease, unable to travel abroad for treatment. Others have had to pull family members from beneath the rubble of their own homes. Most have lost their jobs, homes, or farms. But all of their stories speak to the suffering endured by Yemenis.

Yemen
A Yemeni boy prays at the grave of a relative killed fighting Saudi-led forces, at a cemetery in Sana’a,. Mar. 2, 2021. Hani Mohammed | AP

The Saudi-led Coalition’s campaign in Marib is not limited to the massive airstrikes for which it is now known, but it relies heavily on ideologically-driven fighters from al-Qaeda and Daesh armed with the latest Western weapons. On the al-Murad battlefield, members of al-Qaeda led by Mansur Mabkhout Hadi al-Faqir al-Mouradi, known colloquially as “Zubair Al-Mouradi,” have many tasks including artillery bombardment, bomb-making, and their trademark across the Middle East, planting IEDs.

According to a recent report from Yemen’s Security and Intelligence Agency (SIA), the Saudi government has facilitated a massive al-Qaeda presence in the oil-rich Marib province. This includes a fully-equipped headquarters, shelters, houses, farms, camps, and hotels used openly by al-Qaeda-linked groups. The SIA released the names of more than 100 leaders and members of the so-called “State of Marib” and presented the tasks assigned to them.

According to the SIA, the leadership of the organization in the “State of Marib” has established a safe haven for the group in the Shabwa governorate, establishing medical and reception shelters to aid Saudi-led military operations. Moreover, the villages of Al-Khatla and al-Fageir, the al-Jufina region, and the Wakra region in Marib have all turned into al-Qaeda strongholds.

In fact, al-Qaeda has become more organized and publicly active. They have a fully-functioning organizational structure with Samir Rayan, also known as Mutaz al-Hadhrami, appointed as “Amir of the state of Marib,” and Jamal al-Qamadi, known as Abu Abdul Rahman al-San’ani, appointed as a medical officer and military logistics official. Osama al-Hasani, also known as Muath al-San’ani, has been appointed as head of al-Qaeda. Their organizational structure includes an official to oversee transportation, a medical representative at the Commission Hospital in the Marib, a procurement officer, and even an official to head the organization’s “housing.”

“No Iranians here”

Bakeil al-Murady’s face immediately began to redden and a thoughtful grin appeared when I asked the 35-year-old, who had been captured on Marib’s al-Alam battlefield, whether he really believed that he was on a sacred mission to defend against the Iranians. “There are no Iranians here, but there are Saudi Rials and we are in need,” he answered. Like most Yemenis, al-Murady was inundated by warnings of Iranian intervention in Yemen from Saudi-funded media but never saw it with his own eyes. Most hear tidbits of news about the Iranian nuclear program or other aspects of the country that lies two thousand kilometers away but has been tied ad nauseam to the war in Yemen.

As the media ties recent developments in Yemen to the Iranian nuclear issue or to Houthi attempts to position themselves favorably for potential American-led negotiations, the tragic truth on the ground is that the plight of 17 million Yemenis is being wholly ignored.

The offensive against Saudi Arabia taking place in oil-rich Marib, a province deep inside of Yemen, was launched as part of an effort to end, or at least deter, ongoing Saudi airstrikes against civilian targets and to force the Saudis to allow the entry of life-saving goods. It has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program or a future settlement. In fact, most Yemenis, including the Houthis, have announced repeatedly that their only demand is that the blockade against Yemen ends and that the airstrikes be halted. The simple reality of the battle over Marib is that, regardless of the outcome of the Iranian nuclear deal, it will rage on until Saudi Arabia’s deadly campaign in Yemen grinds to a halt.

Death from the air

On Sunday, scenes of frightened children and families fleeing their homes amidst plumes of rising smoke were repeated after Saudi warplanes bombarded the densely populated al-Nahdhah neighborhood in central Sana’a. The airstrikes hit near Halima Girls School, causing damage to the school and surrounding houses and civic facilities. The attack was one of more than a hundred Saudi airstrikes that targeted populated areas and military sites this week across Yemen, including a scientific center in Arhab.

Yemen
Smoke rises following Saudi airstrikes in a residential area of Sanaa, Mar. 7, 2021. Hani Mohammed | AP

In retaliation for the airstrikes, on Sunday the Houthi-backed Yemeni military launched 22 drone and missile attacks against Saudi targets, including an Aramco oil facility in the port of Ras Tanura, the largest of its kind in the world, located north of the capital of Saudi Arabia’s eastern province of Dammam. The attacks came on the back of other Yemeni strikes on Saudi targets, including on the Abha Airport and King Khalid Air Base, located near Khamis Mushait, some 884 kilometers south of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Both of the airbases have been used to launch airstrikes against targets in Yemen, according to officials.

Yemen’s Houthi-backed Army unveiled the ballistic missiles and drones that were used in Sunday’s attacks on Ras Tanura last Thursday in an event in which Mahdi al-Mashat, the president of the Supreme Political Council, reiterated that attacks on Saudi Arabia will stop if the Kingdom halts airstrikes in Yemen and lifts the blockade on the country.

“Sparkling words”

The UN has warned that the recent clashes in Marib could trigger the displacement of thousands of civilians. “An assault on the city would put two million civilians at risk, with hundreds of thousands potentially forced to flee — with unimaginable humanitarian consequences,” U.N aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Tuesday, urging de-escalation.

According to the UN, more than 8,000 people have been displaced in and around Sirwah since early February, many of them fleeing existing refugee camps. Sana’a said the camps are being used as human shields and that Saudi-backed militants are preventing civilians from leaving the province in order to obstruct the advance of Houthi-led forces towards Ma’rib or to spur anger from the international community should the advance continue.

Marib
A girl plays at a camp for internally displaced people in Marib, October 2, 2020. Ali Owidha | Reuters

The advance on Marib has sparked panic among Saudi Arabia and her allies, including the United States, which called on the “Houthis” to stop military operations, warning them that they should not interpret President Joe Biden’s public pivot on Yemen as a sign of weakness. “The Houthis are under the false impression that this administration intends to let its leadership off the hook,” U.S. State Department spokesman and former intelligence officer Ned Price said, adding, “They are sorely mistaken.”

On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that “The United States joins France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom in condemning the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and their offensive in Ma’rib,” concluding, “We call on all parties to engage in the diplomatic efforts through the Yemen process to bring peace to Yemen.”

Mohamed AbdulSalam, the official spokesman and chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, the political arm of the Houthis, responded by tweeting “The U.S. depicts the battle of Marib as an aggression, asking us not to defend ourselves and leave the terrorist recruitment centers to operate with freedom.” AbdulSalam insisted that the military operation in Marib was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, nor was it decided on January 20, when President Biden assumed power. He added, “So far, the American statements have been still [just] words. We have not noticed any actual progress; the airstrikes and the blockade are continued with American backing. Sparkling words will not deceive us.”

The Yemenis’ rush to liberate Marib, which is home to sizable oil reserves, may be understood in light of the stifling humanitarian crisis foisted upon the country for the past six years — especially the ongoing fuel crisis, which has plunged much of the nation into darkness. It is incomprehensible to many Yemenis that international criticism has now surfaced over the advance on Marib when the same critics cannot muster condemnation of the battles, airstrikes, and blockade that are battering and squeezing more than 30 million people already struggling against famine and Covid-19.

A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees

By Ahmed AbdulKareem

Source

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Yemen’s oil is in thrall to a complex, intertwined network of elites that control the smuggling of fuel imports and new, thriving black markets. Starving Yemen of petroleum products has always been a conspicuous feature of Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on the country, however, the most recent blockade is significantly more extensive than previous ones and comes at a time when a pandemic, diseases, and hunger are spreading rapidly across the country. The most recent byproducts of that blockade: the spread of schistosomiasis, a faltering economy in areas outside of Saudi control, and a dangerous new black market.

Known colloquially as snail fever, schistosomiasis is a rare disease caused by flatworms that thrive in untreated water, something now abundant in Yemen as the diesel fuel needed to power many of the country’s water treatment facilities, especially those in rural areas far removed from any electric grid, has dried up amid the blockade.

In a remote village in the Al-Marawa’ah district, Khalid Abdu looks at his thin daughter, 12-year-old Jamilah, with heartbreak as she lies still in the family’s hut. Jamilah is suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in her stool. Khalid said she has worms in her stomach, now distended and bloated in stark contrast to her otherwise meager frame. Jamilah was later diagnosed with schistosomiasis according to her family, leaving her with just three to ten more years of life if she doesn’t receive proper medical care, a luxury in her war-torn country.

Yemen Famine
Hammadi Issa | AP

Near the family’s hut, hobbled together from a hodgepodge of mud, bamboo sticks, thatch, and reed, sits an old Toyota Hilux, its low tires and thin coating of dust a testament to the fact that it hasn’t moved for weeks. Khalid blames the lack of fuel for the family’s endless problems. “I can’t drive my daughter to the hospital in Aden or bring water to my family, even the treatment plant that I used to go to is closed because there is no diesel,” he said. “Now, we drink, wash our clothes and cooking utensils, and do everything using that old well.” You see the result,” he said, pointing to Jamilah.

Another grim milestone

As the war in Yemen closes in on yet another grim milestone, the end of its sixth year in March, oil-rich U.S. ally Saudi Arabia continues to prevent oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to hospitals, water pumping stations, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging the entire nation into an unending fuel crisis.

The CEO of Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC), Ammar Al-Adrai, told MintPress that at least nine tankers have been trapped in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Port, which sits on the Kingdom’s western seaboard painfully close to the Yemeni border. The tankers, Al-Adrai says, have been held despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. He confirmed that the vessels are loaded with oil derivatives and that some of them have been detained for over nine months, leading to the suspension of more than 50% of the operational capabilities in the service, health, industrial and commercial sectors. 

That lack of fuel has caused an acute shortage of even the most basic goods. Khalid told MintPress that “the price of fruits, vegetables, and medicine is skyrocketing and my farm is defenseless against desertification.” Like many farmers, Khalid, who like his daughter Jamilah shows symptoms of malnutrition, is unable to power the pumps needed to irrigate his fields, leaving him unable to grow his own food with which to feed his family and the desert sands encroaching on his now derelict fields. At least 80% of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

“The [Yemeni] government is indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of citizens, even in areas under their control,” Khalid said, accusing the Saudi-backed government of Aden of deliberately compounding the suffering through the proliferation of the black market. “Fuel shortages in the northern provinces are caused by the blockade, but in Aden, we don’t understand what’s going on.”

A manufactured oil crisis

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance. As a sort of grim bonus, the manufactured oil shortages also to incapacitate the Houthi-run port of Hodeida, increasing poverty and unemployment rates and siphoning cash out of the market, according to the Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC). 

YPC released a statement placing the estimated economic damage caused by Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow tankers to unload their cargo at billions of U.S. dollars. The company also said that demurrage fees are now at an unprecedented level of nearly $107 million and that Saudi forces have illegally impounded 72 Yemen-bound oil tankers last year, resulting in an approximately 45% drop in the amount of desperately-needed fuel shipments arriving at Yemeni ports. 

The fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, but it has also left water pumps and treatment plants, and hospital generators without fuel. Most drinking water, particularly in rural areas, is extracted using diesel-powered pumps, while the country’s sizable refugee population survives on water brought in by diesel-powered trucks.

Yemen Fuel Feature photo
Hani Mohammed | AP

Food imports which generally arrive via one of the country’s ports are processed and packaged at diesel-fuel-powered facilities, factories in Hodeida or Aden before being transported across the country or sold locally.

Outside of the country’s coastal cities where more than 60% of the population resides, freight is transported by road leaving remote communities at the mercy of trucks that must traverse roads pockmarked and damaged by airstrikes. The few who are willing to undertake the dangerous journey must contend with the high price and scant availability of fuel, pushing the price and availability of even the most basic commodities – food, water, and medicines – through the roof.

A thriving black market is born

The oil crisis in Yemen certainly isn’t new, but it has been growing worse recently amid a black market boom which is adding to the already miserable quality of life for Yemenis. The Saudi government is flooding southern areas of Yemen under its control with cheap fuel, exacerbating regional tensions and creating an ideal environment for black market petroleum products to boom. The stark disparity between the availability of fuel in Saudi-controlled areas versus areas under Houthi control is also causing predictable economic damage to the ladder, which is unable to compete amid the Saudi-imposed blockade. 

Despite the suffocating siege on the country, petrol products are sold illegally on roadsides, streets, and isolated areas in the south and north of the country alike, often at double the official price with prices in some areas reach 11,000 riyals for 20 liters. These black market petrol products are mixed with water and other materials and enter from Saudi-controlled ports in Aden port and border crossings such as Al-Wadiah outlet, Al-Shahr, and the rich-oil Marib province.

Yemen’s oil is now in large part controlled by a complex network of corrupt officials that control smuggling routes, imports, and black market sales. Many members of these elite groups are also key allies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They not only plunder wealth and destroy the economy, but they put people’s lives and property in danger. People are now forced to seek their fuel from shady black market dealers and store fuel in their homes to get them through tough times. Smuggled petroleum products are sold in residential areas and unlicensed storefronts that do not meet security and safety standards and exacerbate the human cost of the crisis.

The crisis is set amid a backdrop of theft of Yemen’s own of crude oil by the Coalition and Saudi-backed militants, a daily occurrence in the Mari and Shabwa Blocks. Recently, Saudi Arabia brought in heavy drilling equipment made to deepen existing oil wells in Hadramout aimed at increasing the rate of oil extraction there.

The effect of the blockade on Yemen is acute, even when compared to countries that are reeling from U.S. sanctions such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, where fuel somehow manages to find its way to citizens. Yemen, though, is completely at the mercy of Saudi Arabia, forcing the  Houthi-backed Yemeni Army to step up their oil war against the Kingdom in the Red Sea and putting sensitive oil facilities deep inside Saudi territory at risk of being targeted as they have been in recent years according to the prominent field commander, Major General Yusef al-Madani, the Commander of the Fifth Military Region, the region responsible for Yemeni coasts and territorial waters.

Mass Starvation Looms as Yemen’s Currency Nears Historic Freefall

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

“Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades,” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

TAIZ, YEMEN- – Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent an end to the suffering in Yemen. Even those living in areas under the total control of the wealthy Gulf monarchies are facing levels of devastation that harken back to the total destruction of European cities during World War II.

With no functioning government to provide residents with even basic assistance and facing a collapsed economy amid a famine that could soon beset all of Yemen according to the United Nations, the collapse of Yemen’s rial, particularly in Saudi-coalition-controlled areas, is proving to be the coup de grâce that will assure the country faces an apocalyptic level of destruction for years to come.

Her black eyes virtually absent and speaking in a muted voice that is difficult to pick up, Umm Abdu does her best to recount her story to MintPress. She was hiding a bony face and emaciated body in a voluminous black abaya robe and hijab. “I am starving myself to feed my children. It is very difficult to reach for this piece,” the Illiterate mother of six muttered as she held a piece of Roti bread. Umm Abdu lives in a poor neighborhood in Taiz, a city in western Yemen under the control of some of the richest countries in the world.

Yemen famine
Severely malnourished infant Zahra is bathed by her mother in a washtub. Hammadi Issa | AP

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies.

The economy has already collapsed for virtually every Yemeni living in the south, except for the few who managed to profit by working with Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Savings accounts have long been exhausted and by end of November, the rial depreciated to an all-time low of 850 YR to a single U.S. dollar, leaving most of the population unable to afford even the most basic essentials. Like Umm Abdu, people are reducing portion sizes and skipping meals as a kind of “coping strategy index,” one of many tools used to measure food insecurity. Fruit, fish, and meat have become a rare commodity that most can only dream of.

“Even though there is food in the markets, I can’t afford it. Not because we don’t have money, but because of the crazy prices. So we decide to reduce food to keep our children alive,” one shopper told MintPress. However, that strategy may not be enough as food prices are near double where they were in the wake of the recent currency collapse.

According to International organizations, Yemen, particularly areas under the control of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, will return to alarming levels of food insecurity by mid-2020, and a catastrophic food security crisis is looming. They reported that by December 2020, the population facing high levels of acute food insecurity (what they termed IPC Phase 3 and above) would increase from 2 million to 3.2 million people.

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report from October 2020 covering southern Yemen highlighted how acute malnutrition rates among children under five are now the highest ever recorded in some districts. The analysis reveals a near 10 percent increase in cases of acute malnutrition this year. The greatest increase is in cases of young children suffering from severe acute malnutrition which has increased by 15.5 percent, leaving at least 98,000 children under age five at high risk of dying without urgent treatment.

Situation Report Yemen 11 Nov 2020 pdf edited
Source: IPC Acute malnutrition analysis (Oct 2020)

A stream of statements from leading aid organization officials reflects how dire the situation has become, including a warning from UN Secretary-General António Guterres that “Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. ”We’ve been warning since July that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis. If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children,” said Lisa Grande last month,” the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “The data we are releasing today confirms that acute malnutrition among children is hitting the highest levels we have seen since the war started,” she added.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised the alarm about millions of Yemenis risking falling into worsening levels of hunger by mid-2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also described the crisis in Yemen as “the world’s worst.” The WFP said in a tweet that millions are trapped in a cycle of conflict and hunger. “Everyday life in Yemen gets harder for millions as the window to prevent famine narrows. We must act now.”

Although a mass famine event may be unlikely in the immediate future, officials in Taiz warned that many areas could soon start to see deaths from famine. Many children already have signs of severe acute malnutrition, the most dire stage of hunger where legs and feet begin to swell. “We all sleep hungry, there is not enough food even for our children,“ Umm Abdu told us.

For Umm Abdu and her husband, 37-year-old Saeed, the rial’s collapse has meant skipping meals. Saeed was educated as an English teacher and had a job as a tour guide at a local travel agency before the war. Since he lost his job after the war began, he’s been making money selling qat – a mild stimulant that many Yemenis chew in the afternoon. However, that money is not nearly enough to cover rent, let alone basic needs. Now, their situation is getting worse as the availability of Qat has decreased dramatically after the weather turned cold three months ago when winter began. After the recent collapse of the rial, the ability to bring home food has become nearly impossible.

Umm Abdu and Saeed are now considering extreme options. Over the past six years, they have seen Yemen’s steady dissolution from a nation hoping to transition to democracy post-Arab Spring, to a nation fragmented and a land of warring statelets, mass suffering, and despair.  Many of their neighbors have resorted to stealing, human trafficking, and selling their organs to make ends meet, or even marrying off their daughters because they are unable to feed them.

A tale of two cities

Officials in Aden, the de facto center of Saudi-Coalition power in Yemen, blame the collapse of currency on the fact that foreign reserves have dried up. According to them, remittances from Yemenis abroad, the largest source of foreign exchange, dropped by up to 70% as a result of the Covid-induced global downturn. But to Omer, a former fighter in “al-Muqawamah” in Aden who was wounded while fighting with Coalition Forces against the Houthis in 2016, these arguments are grossly inaccurate.

Omer believes that Saudi Arabia has a plan to destroy the national currency in order to intentionally accelerate famine.  “Why is there no collapse of the currency in Houthi areas even though they live in conditions worse than us?” The exchange rate divergence between Houthi-controlled Sana’a and coalition-controlled Aden is indeed stark, with the Yemeni rial worth 35% less in Aden than it is in Sana’a.

Omer was one of the thousands of Yemenis that took the streets in Taiz and other areas this week in a mass protest against the continuing deterioration of the economic situation, denouncing the Saudi-led coalition states and demanding they leave the country. The demonstrators accused coalition countries and ousted Yemeni president Abdul Mansour al-Hadi of practicing a policy of starvation to achieve their personal objectives. They chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and UAE with phrases like “our revolution is a hungry revolution,” “take your aid, and leave us our oil,” “take your donations, and leave us our ports,” and “take your trust fund and leave us our wealth.”

A gloomy future

According to local economists who spoke to MintPress, the reasons behind the collapse of Yemen’s economy and its currency are many and varied but the expansionary monetary policy that has been taken by Saudi Arabia is one of the key drivers of the Yemeni rial’s devaluation.

Local authorities supported by Saudi Arabia have regularly printed new banknotes in order to meet expenses compounded by the purchase of foreign currencies flowing into markets by foreign organizations.

By the end of 2019, the total rial liquidity in circulation in the country was more than three trillion, according to a source in the Aden-based central bank. As of the beginning of 2020, the bank has printed around 300 billion rials in order to address the budget deficit. The government of ousted president Hadi has largely relied on the central bank’s overdraft financing instrument to cover his spending abroad, including rent, travel, and entertainment.

Recently, Saudi’s proxies in southern Yemen have been selling large quantities of newly-printed banknotes in order to purchase foreign currency from the market and replenish their own foreign currency holdings. This has increased downward pressure on the rial’s value and helped drive inflation.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on countries to provide financial assistance to resolve the severe economic crisis in Yemen, saying in a statement issued via his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on the second anniversary of the Stockholm Agreement, “I call on all member states to help address the severe economic crisis in the country.”

Umm Abdu has a gloomy future. She has no faith in the UN or the Saudi proxies in the south, who she described as “drenched in treason.” Nonetheless, she places hope in God and in her fellow Yemenis that her country will be freed. “Where else on Earth can you find a nation that has gone through what has happened in Yemen, occupied by foreigners, destroyed, with famine and epidemics, and yet somehow, we still managed to survive.”

We Are The Terrorists

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Yemeni children 49c1e

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.

We are the terrorists. Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and every other nation which has facilitated the horrific mass atrocity in Yemen–this tight globe-spanning power alliance is a terrorist organization the likes of which the world has never seen before. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told.

We are the terrorists. I say “we” instead of our governments because if we are honest with ourselves, we as a civilian population are complicit in this slaughter. The horrors in Yemen are without question the worst thing that is happening in the world right now, yet they comprise barely a blip in our social consciousness. The overwhelming majority of us have seen the pictures and videos of starving Yemeni children, thought something along the lines of “Oh a famine, that’s so sad” and gone back to thinking about sports or whatever other insipid nonsense occupies most of our attention.

We are the terrorists. Yes it is true that we have been propagandized into our complicity with this terrorism and if the news media were doing its purported job Yemen would be front and center in our attention, but we are still complicit. We are still participating in it, still living in a society that is woven of the fabric of slaughter and brutality without rising up and using the power of our numbers to force a change. Just because you are unaware that you sleep on a bed of butchered children doesn’t mean you’re not lying in it.

We are the terrorists. But we don’t need to be.

We can begin waking up together. Waking up our friends and neighbors, spreading consciousness of what’s going on, raising awareness of the horrors our governments are perpetrating in Yemen and in other nations in the name of imperialist domination, helping each other see through the veils of propaganda to how much life and how many resources are being spent on inflicting unspeakable acts of terror upon our world instead of benefiting humanity.

The US government could force an end to the horrors in Yemen almost immediately if it really wanted to. If maintaining unipolar hegemony were suddenly advanced by giving the Houthis victory in Yemen instead of fighting to ensure Washington-aligned rule, the Saudis would withdraw and the war would be over within days. We could make this happen if we could spread enough awareness of the reality of what’s happening in Yemen.

Break the silence on Yemen. Pressure Biden to fulfil his campaign pledge to end the war which was initiated under the Obama-Biden administration. Oppose US imperialism. Weaken public trust in the mass media which refuse to give us a clear picture of what’s going on in the world. Help people realize that their perception of reality is being continually warped and distorted by the powerful.

We end our role in the terrorism of the empire by awakening the citizens of that empire to its acts of terror.

Ten years on the lie of the Arab Spring! عشر سنوات على أكذوبة الربيع العربيّ!

Ten years on the lie of the Arab Spring!

See the source image

Dr. D.Mohammed Sayed Ahmed

I know that the title of the article may be a clash with some hardliners who do not accept a negative word on the so-called Arab Spring,  who always describe it as a revolution,  especially in Tunisia and Egypt. 

In order to comfort these people from  the beginning, I confess to them that I  personally was one of the  participants  in the events of January 25th in Egypt and I was one of those opponents of Mubarak’s policies and successive governments. In January, I did not accept  reform,  I was a hardliner who wanted to bring about a radical change in the structure of society, and I saw that the structure  of Egyptian society  had suffered a lot of social,  economic, political and cultural damage, and that it was time for change.

However, far from emotions and through a scientific and objective view, it was necessary to assess  what happened 10 years after the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring, and through a review of the research heritage that has taken place over the past 10 years it is clear that the majority of  researchers and scholars from different disciplines (politics, economy, sociology, media) have given a preliminary judgement on the events that took place in some Arab countries  (Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen,  Libya, Syria)  at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 20111 as revolutions. It is strange that many  of these studies have put the concept of revolution in the title of the study, and thus have been  issued as required from the beginning, and the researcher himself, although researchers and leading scholars, did not bother to try to verify these events; did he actually live up to the revolution or not?  We did not find a single study that tried to answer this question. Are the events and interactions  witnessed by some Arab countries amounting to a revolution?

Here it must be emphasised that the revolution, as the majority of literature in the social  sciences see it,  is «to bring about a positive radical change in the social, economic, political and  cultural structure  of  society.  This scientific definition of the revolution leads us to the conclusion  that revolutions are not judged by their causes and motives or through their events and interactions,  but by their consequences. If society does not see a radical positive change in its social,  economic,  political  and cultural structure, the events and interactions that have paved the way for the causes and motives that  we cannot describe as revolution, but must seek another concept, especially since there are many  concepts  that may overlap and resemble the concept of revolution in terms of causes,  motives, events  and  interactions, but differ in terms of results such as the concept of popular  uprising, mass  movement, protest movement and others.

Therefore, it is clear that the majority of studies carried out over the past 10 years have  recognised  that what happened is an Arab Spring and Arab revolutions that have accelerated governance  through causes, motives, events and interactions without waiting to judge according to the results.  In each society is different from what the other society has seen, each society has its own structural and historical specificity and it is not permissible to mix papers and generalise.

Montage photo qui exprime le dégoût des Tunisiens à l'égard de ce mercenaire du Qatar et agent du sionisme.
Montage photo qui exprime le dégoût des Tunisiens à l’égard de ce mercenaire du Qatar et agent du sionisme.

In a recent study we monitored the results of this so-called spring, the  results in Tunisia say that the  social, economic, political and cultural  impact of the mass movement witnessed in Tunisia at the end of 2010  was  negative on the structure of society and did not reflect positively on the vast majority of  citizens.

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The results in Egypt were very similar, and the  January 25  movement did not  make a  positive change  in the  structure  of society, and the situation  of  the vast majority  of citizens did not  improve,  but their  living conditions  deteriorated  from what they  were under Mubarak.

In Yemen, events have destroyed the structure of society, civil and regional strife prevailed,  external aggression has occurred, people have been displaced and diseases and epidemics have spread, and Yemen has become vulnerable to division.

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The results in Libya indicate that what happened is an external  aggression that coveted the wealth of the  Libyan people, which ultimately destroyed the structure  of society, and Libya entered a  crisis  that  had been  internationalised, and there was no glimmer of hope to resolve it soon, and in deeds  the idea of partition was perpetuated.

The results confirm that Syria has been subjected to an external conspiracy, which led to a global war  with states that brought terrorist elements to the proxy war, which led to the destruction of the structure of Syrian society, displacement, asylum and the migration of millions of people.

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 McCain’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria ARE ISIS

The results in its entirety indicate that the radical positive change in the social, economic, political and cultural structure of society caused by the revolutions has not been witnessed by any Arab society  from the five societies that witnessed the events, so the precise scientific characterisation says  that  what happened in Egypt and Tunisia is by no means up to the level of the revolution, what  happened in  Egypt and Tunisia popular uprisings did not achieve their objectives, what happened in Yemen a power  struggle turned into a civil war and external aggression, what happened in Libya is an  external  aggression, and what happened in Syria is an external conspiracy to undermine its foundations.

Thus, we can say that the so-called Arab Spring is a lie promoted through the colonial media machine,  what has happened is the implementation of the new Middle East plan aimed at dividing and fragmenting our societies and of course exploiting some internal reasons and motives to move the popular masses, so the Arab public opinion must wake up and realise that the project is not finished  and the plans of the American and Zionist enemy will remain in place, but are now being developed  through the so-called peace and normalisation agreements.

عشر سنوات على أكذوبة الربيع العربيّ!

د. محمد سيد أحمد

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تحلّ علينا خلال أيام الذكرى العاشرة لأحداث الربيع العربي المزعوم، وبالطبع أعلم أنّ عنوان المقال قد يكون صداماً لبعض المتشدّدين الذين لا يقبلون كلمة سلبية على هذه الأحداث ودائماً ما يصفونها بالثورة خاصة في تونس ومصر. ولكي نريح هؤلاء منذ البداية أعترف لهم أنني شخصياً كنت أحد المشاركين في أحداث 25 يناير في مصر وكنتُ أحد المعارضين لسياسات مبارك وحكوماته المتعاقبة. وفي يناير لم أكن أقبل بالإصلاح فقد كنتُ من المتشددين الذين يرغبون في إحداث التغيير الجذري في بنية المجتمع، وكنت أرى أن بنية المجتمع المصريّ قد أصابها الكثير من العطب على المستوى الاجتماعي والاقتصادي والسياسي والثقافي، وأنه قد حان وقت التغيير.

لكن بعيداً عن العواطف ومن خلال نظرة علمية وموضوعية كان لا بد من تقييم ما حدث بعد مرور عشر سنوات على اندلاع شرارة الربيع العربي المزعوم، ومن خلال مراجعة التراث البحثي الذي تم خلال العشر سنوات الماضية يتضح أن غالبية الباحثين والعلماء من تخصصات مختلفة ( سياسة – اقتصاد – اجتماع – إعلام) قد أصدروا حكماً مبدئياً على الأحداث التي شهدتها بعض الدول العربية ( تونس – مصر – اليمن – ليبيا – سورية) في نهاية العام 2010 وبداية العام 2011 بأنها ثورات. ومن الغريب أن كثيراً من هذه الدراسات قد وضع مفهوم الثورة في عنوان الدراسة، وبذلك يكون قد صادر على المطلوب منذ البداية، ولم يكلف باحث نفسَه، رغم أنهم باحثون وعلماء كبار، أن يحاول التحقق من هذه الأحداث؛ وهل بالفعل ترقى لمستوى الثورة أم لا؟ فلم نجد دراسة واحدة حاولت الإجابة على هذا السؤال. هل ما شهدته بعض الدول العربية من أحداث وتفاعلات يرقى لمستوى الثورة؟

وهنا يجب التأكيد على أن الثورة كما ترى غالبية الأدبيات في العلوم الاجتماعية هي «إحداث تغيير جذري إيجابي في بنية المجتمع الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية والثقافية». وهذا التعريف العلميّ للثورة يقودنا إلى استنتاج يقول إن الثورات لا يحكم عليها من خلال أسبابها ودوافعها ولا من خلال أحداثها وتفاعلاتها بل يحكم عليها بنتائجها. فإذا لم يشهد المجتمع تغييراً جذرياً إيجابياً في بنيته الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية والثقافية، فإن الأحداث والتفاعلات التي مهدت لها أسباب ودوافع لا يمكن أن نقوم بتوصيفها بمصطلح الثورة بل يجب البحث عن مفهوم آخر، خاصة أن هناك مفاهيم كثيرة قد تتداخل وتتشابه مع مفهوم الثورة من حيث الأسباب والدوافع والأحداث والتفاعلات، لكنها تختلف من حيث النتائج مثل مفهوم الانتفاضة الشعبية والحراك الجماهيري والحركة الاحتجاجية وغيرها.

ومن هنا يتضح أن غالبية الدراسات التي تمّت عبر العشر سنوات الماضية وسلّمت بأن ما حدث هو ربيع عربي وثورات عربية قد تسرّعت في الحكم من خلال الأسباب والدوافع والأحداث والتفاعلات من دون الانتظار للحكم وفقاً للنتائج، لذلك كان من الضروري الآن وبعد مرور عقد من الزمان على هذه الأحداث طرح السؤال التالي: هل ما حدث في بعض المجتمعات العربية يرقى بالفعل لأن نطلق عليه مصطلح ثورة أو أن نطلق عليه إعلامياً أنه ربيع؟ والإجابة على هذا السؤال تتطلب بحثاً دقيقاً فيما أفضت إليه الأحداث في كل مجتمع عربي على حدة، فما حدث في كل مجتمع يختلف عما شهده المجتمع الآخر، فلكل مجتمع خصوصيته البنائية والتاريخية ولا يجوز خلط الأوراق والتعميم.

وفي دراسة حديثة لنا قمنا برصد النتائج التي أفضى إليها هذا الربيع المزعوم، فجاءت النتائج في تونس تقول إن المردود الاجتماعي والاقتصادي والسياسي والثقافي للحراك الجماهيري الذي شهدته تونس في نهاية العام 2010 جاء سلبياً على بنية المجتمع ولم ينعكس بشكل إيجابي على الغالبية العظمى من المواطنين.

وجاءت النتائج في مصر متشابهة إلى حد كبير فلم يحدث حراك 25 يناير تغييراً إيجابياً في بنية المجتمع، ولم تتحسن أوضاع الغالبية العظمى من المواطنين، بل تدهورت أحوالهم المعيشية عما كانت عليه في عهد مبارك.

وفي اليمن أدّت الأحداث لتدمير بنية المجتمع وساد الاحتراب الأهلي والمناطقي، وحدث العدوان الخارجي، وتشرّد الشعب وانتشرت الأمراض والأوبئة، وأصبح اليمن عرضة للتقسيم.

وتشير النتائج في ليبيا إلى أن ما حدث هو عدوان خارجي طمعاً في ثروات الشعب الليبي، أدى في النهاية إلى تدمير بنية المجتمع، ودخول ليبيا في أزمة تم تدويلها، ولا يوجد بصيص أمل في حلها قريباً، والواقع يكرّس فكرة التقسيم.

وتؤكد النتائج أن سورية قد تعرضت لمؤامرة خارجية، أدّت إلى نشوب حرب كونية مع دول جلبت عناصر إرهابية للحرب بالوكالة، وهو ما أدّى لتدمير بنية المجتمع السوريّ، ونزوح ولجوء وهجرة ملايين من أبناء الشعب.

والنتائج في مجملها تشير إلى أن التغيير الجذري الإيجابي في بنية المجتمع الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية والثقافية التي تحدثها الثورات لم يشهدها أي مجتمع عربي من المجتمعات الخمسة التي شهدت الأحداث، لذلك فالتوصيف العلمي الدقيق يقول إن ما حدث لا يرقى بأي حال من الأحوال لمستوى الثورة، فما حدث في مصر وتونس انتفاضات شعبية لم تحقق أهدافها، وما حدث في اليمن صراع على السلطة تحول لحرب أهلية وعدوان خارجي، وما حدث في ليبيا عدوان خارجي استعماري، وما حدث في سورية مؤامرة خارجية لتقويض دعائم مشروعها المقاوم.

وبذلك يمكننا القول إن ما يُطلق عليه الربيع العربي هو أكذوبة يتم الترويج لها عبر الآلة الإعلاميّة الاستعماريّة، فما حدث هو تنفيذ لمخطط الشرق الأوسط الجديد الذي يستهدف تقسيم وتفتيت مجتمعاتنا وبالطبع استغل بعض الأسباب والدوافع الداخلية لتحريك الجماهير الشعبية، لذلك يجب أن يفيق الرأي العام العربي ويدرك أن المشروع لم ينته وستظل مخططات العدو الأميركي والصهيوني قائمة، بل يتم تطويرها الآن عبر اتفاقيات السلام والتطبيع المزعومة، اللهم بلغت اللهم فاشهد.

How Joe Biden Plans to Make The American Empire Great Again

Joe Biden Foreign Policy Feature photo

By Dan Cohen

Source

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden railed against Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy, claiming it weakened the United States and left the world in disarray.

He pledged to reverse this decline and recover the damage Trump did to America’s reputation. While Donald Trump called to make America Great Again, Biden seeks to Make the American Empire Great Again.

Among the president-elect’s pledges is to end the so-called forever wars – the decades-long imperial projects in Afghanistan and Iraq that began under the Bush administration.

Yet Biden – a fervent supporter of those wars – will task ending them to the most neoconservative elements of the Democratic party and ideologues of permanent war.

Michele Flournoy and Tony Blinken sit atop Biden’s thousands-strong foreign policy brain trust and have played central roles in every U.S. war going back to the Clinton administration.

In the Trump era, they’ve cashed in, founding Westexec Advisors – a corporate consulting firm that has become home for Obama administration officials awaiting a return to government.

Flournoy is Biden’s leading pick for secretary of defense and Blinken is expected to be national security advisor.

Biden’s foxes guard the henhouse

Since the 1990s, Flournoy and Blinken have steadily risen through the ranks of the military-industrial complex, shuffling back and forth between the Pentagon and hawkish think-tanks funded by the U.S. government, weapons companies, and oil giants.

Under Bill Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the 1996 Quadrinellial Defense Review, the document that outlined the U.S. military’s doctrine of permanent war – what it called “full spectrum dominance.”

Flournoy called for “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”

As Bush administration officials lied to the world about Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMD’s, Flournoy remarked that “In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary’s [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States.”

Tony Blinken was a top advisor to then-Senate foreign relations committee chair Joe Biden, who played a key role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

As Iraq was plunged into chaos and bloodshed, Flournoy was among the authors of a paper titled “Progressive Internationalism” that called for a “smarter and better” style of permanent war. The paper chastised the anti-war left and stated that  “Democrats will maintain the world’s most capable and technologically advanced military, and we will not flinch from using it to defend our interests anywhere in the world.”

With Bush winning a second term, Flournoy advocated for more troop deployments from the sidelines.

In 2005, Flournoy signed onto a letter from the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century, asking Congress to “increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps (by) at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.”

In 2007, she leveraged her Pentagon experience and contacts to found what would become one of the premier Washington think tanks advocating endless war across the globe: the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS is funded by the U.S. government, arms manufacturers, oil giants, Silicon Valley tech giants, billionaire-funded foundations, and big banks.

Flournoy joined the Obama administration and was appointed as under secretary of defense for policy, the position considered the “brains” of the Pentagon.

She was keenly aware that the public was wary of more quagmires. In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, she crafted a new concept of warfare that would expand the permanent war state while giving the appearance of a drawdown.

Flournoy wrote that “unmanned systems hold great promise” – a reference to the CIA’s drone assassination program.

This was the Obama-era military doctrine of hybrid war. It called for the U.S. to be able to simultaneously wage war on numerous fronts through secret warfare, clandestine weapons transfers to proxies, drone strikes, and cyber-attacks – all buttressed with propaganda campaigns targeting the American public through the internet and corporate news media.

Architects of America’s Hybrid wars

Flournoy continued to champion the endless wars that began in the Bush-era and was a key architect of Obama’s disastrous troop surge in Afghanistan. As U.S. soldiers returned in body bags and insurgent attacks and suicide bombings increased some 65% from 2009 and 2010, she deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, claiming that the U.S. was beginning to turn the tide against the Taliban.

Even with her lie that the U.S. and Afghan government were starting to beat the Taliban back, Flournoy assured the senate that the U.S. would have to remain in Afghanistan long into the future.

Ten years later – as the Afghan death toll passed 150,000 – Flournoy continued to argue against a U.S. withdrawal.

That’s the person Joe Biden has tasked with ending the forever war in Afghanistan. But in Biden’s own words, he’ll “bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan” implying some number of American troops will remain, and the forever war will be just that. Michele Flournoy explained that even if a political settlement were reached, the U.S. would maintain a presence.

In 2011, the Obama-era doctrine of smart and sophisticated warfare was unveiled in the NATO regime-change war on Libya.

Moammar Gaddafi – the former adversary who sought warm relations with the U.S. and had given up his nuclear weapons program  – was deposed and sodomized with a bayonet.

Flournoy, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and corporate media were in lockstep as they waged an extensive propaganda campaign to deceive the U.S. public that Gadaffi’s soldiers were on a Viagra-fueled rape and murder spree that demanded a U.S. intervention.

All of this was based on a report from Al Jazeera – the media outlet owned by the Qatari monarchy that was arming extremist militias to overthrow the government.

Yet an investigation by the United Nations called the rape claims “hysteria.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found no credible evidence of even a single rape.

Even after Libya was descended into strife and the deception of Gadaffi’s forces committing rape was debunked, Michele Flournoy stood by her support for the war.

Tony Blinken, then Obama’s deputy national security advisor, also pushed for regime change in Libya. He became Obama’s point man on Syria, pushed to arm the so-called “moderate rebels” that fought alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS, and designed the red line strategy to trigger a full-on U.S. intervention. Syria, he told the public, wasn’t anything like the other wars the U.S. had waging for more than a decade.

Despite Blinken’s promises that it would be a short affair, the war on Syria is now in its ninth year. An estimated half a million people have been killed as a result and the country is facing famine,

Largely thanks to the policy of using “wheat to apply pressure” – a recommendation of Flournoy and Blinken’s CNAS think tank.

When the Trump administration launched airstrikes on Syria based on mere accusations of a chemical attack, Tony Blinken praised the bombing, claiming Assad had used the weapon of mass destruction sarin. Yet there was no evidence for this claim, something even then-secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted.

While jihadist mercenaries armed with U..S-supplied weapons took over large swaths of Syria, Tony Blinken played a central role in a coup d’etat in Ukraine that saw a pro-Russia government overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated color revolution with neo-fascist elements agitating on the ground.

At the time, he was ambivalent about sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, instead opting for economic pressure.

Since then, fascist militias have been incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces. And Tony Blinken urged Trump to send them deadly weapons – something Obama had declined to do.

Trump obliged.

The Third Offset

While the U.S. fuelled wars in Syria and Ukraine, the Pentagon announced a major shift called the Third Offset strategy – a reference to the cold war era strategies the U.S. used to maintain its military supremacy over the Soviet Union.

The Third Offset strategy shifted the focus from counterinsurgency and the war on terror to great power competition against China and Russia, seeking to ensure that the U.S. could win a war against China in Asia. It called for a technological revolution in warfighting capabilities, development of futuristic and autonomous weapons, swarms of undersea and airborne drones, hypersonic weapons, cyber warfare, machine-enhanced soldiers, and artificial intelligence making unimaginably complex battlefield decisions at speeds incomprehensible to the human mind. All of this would be predicated on the Pentagon deepening its relationship with Silicon Valley giants that it birthed decades before: Google and Facebook.

The author of the Third Offset, former undersecretary of defense Robert Work, is a partner of Flournoy and Blinken’s at WestExec Advisors. And Flournoy has been a leading proponent of this dangerous new escalation.

In June, Flournoy published a lengthy commentary laying out her strategy called “Sharpening the U.S. Military’s Edge: Critical Steps for the Next Administration”.

She warned that the United States is losing its military technological advantage and reversing that must be the Pentagon’s priority. Without it, Flournoy warned that the U.S. might not be able to defeat China in Asia.

While Flournoy has called for ramping up U.S. military presence and exercises with allied forces in the region, she went so far as to call for the U.S. to increase its destructive capabilities so much that it could launch a blitzkrieg style-attack that would wipe out the entire Chinese navy and all civilian merchant ships in the South China Sea. Not only a blatant war crime but a direct attack on a nuclear power that would spell the third world war.

At the same time, Biden has announced he’ll take an even more aggressive and confrontational stance against Russia, a position Flournoy shares.

As for ending the forever wars, Tony Blinken says not so fast.

The end of forever wars?

So Biden will end the forever wars, but not really end them. Secret wars that the public doesn’t even know the U.S. is involved in – those are here to stay.

In fact, leaving teams of special forces in place throughout the Middle East is part and parcel of the Pentagon’s shift away from counterinsurgency and towards great power competition.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy explains that “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities” and the U.S. will “consolidate gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach.”

As for the catastrophic war on Yemen, Biden has said he’ll end U.S. support, but in 2019, Michele Flournoy argued against ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Biden pledged he will rejoin the Iran deal as a starting point for new negotiations. However, Trump’s withdrawal from the deal discredited the Iranian reformists who seek engagement with the west and empowered the principlists who see the JCPOA as a deal with the devil.

In Latin America, Biden will revive the so-called anti-corruption campaigns that were used as a cover to oust the popular social democrat Brazilian president Lula da Silva.

His Venezuela policy will be almost identical to Trump’s – sanctions and regime change.

In Central America, Biden has proposed a 4 billion dollar package to support corrupt right-wing governments and neoliberal privatization projects that create even more destabilization and send vulnerable masses fleeing north to the United States.

Behind their rhetoric, Biden, Flournoy, and Blinken will seek nothing less than global supremacy, escalating a new and even more dangerous arms race that risks the destruction of humanity. That’s what Joe Biden calls “decency” and “normalcy.”

Already Faced with Famine and War, Yemenis Fear Saudi Arabia is Weaponizing COVID-19

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

SANA’A, YEMEN — The war in Yemen began in earnest on Mar. 26, 2015, but it is about to take on another complex dimension as that country grapples with a collapsed healthcare system and a new Saudi military escalation amid the looming threat of a coronavirus outbreak. That outbreak threatens a population already struggling against an unprecedented explosion of famine, epidemics and disease.

On Monday, the Saudi-led coalition announced a new military operation targeting three major Yemeni cities, including Sana’a, Hodeida, and Sadaa. In Sana’a, More than ten airstrikes struck a farm that bred Arabian horses in southeast Sana’a, killing 70 horses and injuring many more. A number of horse breeders were also killed or wounded in the attack. Saudi airstrikes also targeted the populated Attan neighborhood and the Sana’a International Airport.

In Hodeida, Saudi warplanes bombed a quarantine center that had been prepared to treat coronavirus patients. Saudi airstrikes also destroyed water wells on Kamran Island, which was reportedly struck with three U.S.-made bombs. The wells provided clean water to more than 10,000 people. The airstrikes also targeted civilian facilities in the al-Jah and al-Saleif districts. Those attacks claimed a yet confirmed number of casualties and destroyed civilian infrastructure that had been rebuilt following prior Saudi attacks.

Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthis, the primary force fighting to repel Saudi forces from Yemen, vowed a “painful response” and said that the Saudi raids are a dangerous escalation that would be met with the bombing of vital facilities deep inside Saudi Arabia, including sensitive economic targets. On Sunday, Yemen’s Houthi-allied Army targeted what they called strategic and sensitive sites in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Najran, and Jizan using a squadron of domestically-manufactured combat drones and ballistic missiles in retaliation for Saudi airstrikes that targeted al-Jawf, Marib, and Sadaa last week.

In addition to the ongoing Saudi airstrikes and blockade on the country, epidemics such as diphtheria, cholera, dengue fever, swine flu, and malaria are still sweeping the nation, making it nearly impossible for Yemenis to effectively face the coming novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which is sweeping the world. To Yemenis, who have little to no access to healthcare, a pandemic like this is an added worry to their already troubled lives.

To tackle COVID-19, the Houthis welcomed a call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a ceasefire in the war-ridden country. “We welcome the UN Secretary-General’s call for ceasefire… we reaffirmed our readiness to deal with all peace initiatives to achieve a comprehensive political solution,” said Mahdi al-Mashat, the president of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council said. Al-Mashat went to say, “We are ready to cooperate to move from war stage to peace.”

On Wednesday, Guterres urged Yemen’s rival parties to work with his Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to achieve a nationwide de-escalation, saying, “a political solution is the only way to a comprehensive and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Yemen.”

Although Turki al-Maliki, spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, stated that the coalition supported Griffiths’ efforts in Yemen, Saudi warplanes launched over 100 airstrikes since Guterres’ statement was made. The airstrikes targeted populated areas in al-Jawf, Marib, and Yemeni border districts.

Weaponizing COVID-19

Moreover, authorities in the Sana’a Health Ministry accused Saudi Arabia of trying to spread the coronavirus intentionally. On Monday, Saudi warplanes dropped boxes containing face masks in the al-Ahli district in Hodeida province and Bani Sa’ad and al-Taweilah in the al-Mahwit governorate as well as Nugom in Sana’a. The number of masks was insignificant and dropped into densely populated areas causing a predictably frenzied panic among desperate citizens who all stormed the locations to retrieve what protection they could. Authorities accuse the Saudi government of intentionally causing panic among Yemenis in order to encourage them to break social distancing guidelines and expedite the spread of COVID-19. If Saudi officials genuinely wanted to provide aid to Yemeni civilians, they say, they could do so through official UN channels. Some residents told MintPress that they also fear the masks could be contaminated with the coronavirus, and Yemeni officials have warned residents to be cautious of free equipment offered by the Saudi Coalition.

The Ministry of Health said Saudi Arabia is also trying to spread COVID-19 by deporting Yemenis from Saudi Arabia in large numbers, a practice they say began last month when the pandemic was already well underway.

In addition, the Saudi-led coalition allowed four passenger aircraft to land in Yemen last week with a total of 1,000 passengers on board; this at a time when most countries have suspended inbound flights in an effort to contain the pandemic. The coalition has near complete control of Yemen’s airspace.

Yemen coronavirus

Ansar Allah said that the Saudi-led coalition — which has imposed an all-out blockade on the country — will be responsible for a possible spread of the coronavirus to Yemen. Houthi leader Mohammed al-Houthi said on Twitter that “those who have been killing the Yemenis with their weapons would not hesitate to take their lives through less costly means.” Many Yemenis believe that the Saudi-led coalition would not hesitate to intentionally spread coronavirus in Yemen, especially after their bloody five-year-old military campaign has achieved so little.

The United States, for its part, is not making the dire situation facing Yemenis any easier. The country, a primary backer of Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, is decreasing aid to relief workers, according to Yemeni officials and political parties leaders who spoke to MintPress. Human rights activists say that if humanitarian and medical assistance does not reach Yemen soon, and in large quantities, the spread of COVID-19 in the country will be swift and deadly.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently slashed aid to Yemen, halting some $70 million used to fund healthcare programs in the country despite calls from NGOs, humanitarian groups, and even members of Congress, to delay the decision while the country prepares to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Is Yemen already infected?

Thus far, there are no officially confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Yemen; however, Ansar Allah officials told MintPress that they have recorded cases near the Saudi border and in southern Yemen, however, MintPress was not able to verify those claims independently. According to Ansar Allah, at least ten Saudi-backed militants in the Medi front near Hajjah have been infected with coronavirus, but those numbers have yet to be officially confirmed by medical bodies.

Although Yemen’s authorities have already taken pre-emptive measures by closing the ports under their control and preventing public gatherings, they would likely quickly be overwhelmed should there be an outbreak of coronavirus as they are already struggling to maintain essential services amid the ongoing Saudi siege and relentless attacks over the past five years.

Sana’a, in particular, where four million people live, including 1.5 million internally displaced people, is particularly susceptible to an outbreak. The city is overcrowded, suffering from an acute lack of sanitation and civilian infrastructure that has been all but decimated from five years of war.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). Yemeni doctors fear that if COVID-19 cannot be contained, that number could be dwarfed in a matter of days.

With the world preoccupied with the number of global cases and deaths that the virus has claimed, in Yemen, over 100,00 people die every year as a result of disease and epidemics like cholera and dengue fever, most of them children. If one is able to dodge death by war or disease, they now face the prospect of catching COVID-19 in a country where 19.7 million people are in need of the most basic health care, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

A healthcare system crippled by years of war

Countries with robust health care systems may be able to resist the virus, at least to some extent, but the ongoing blockade and bombing of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, have crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the most basic public health needs. Furthermore, medical treatment and supplies, including respirators, medical sterilizers, and cleaning tools, have become difficult to come by since the Saudi-led coalition forced the closure of the Sana’a International Airport in August 2016.

The Saudi blockade on what is already one of the poorest countries on earth entails tight control over all aspects of life in Yemen. The blockade also restricts movement to the country, meaning that access to medical supplies and entry for emergency medical personnel are all determined by Saudi Arabia. In fact, the reality of life under siege means that for Yemen’s people, their fate lies almost entirely in the hands of Saudi Arabia.

While most of the health services around the world are being overwhelmed by the coronavirus, the deliberate targeting, and attacks on the country’s healthcare facilities over the past five years will make matters worse. The Saudi-led coalition has destroyed 385 hospitals and health facilities. Most of the country’s estimated 300 remaining facilities are either closed or barely functioning. International organizations, already overwhelmed with the pandemic, have done little to provide the necessary medicine and medical supplies to help Yemen face COVID-19.

coronavirus Yemen

More than 250,000 Saudi-led airstrikes have also destroyed 8,610 service facilities, including 15 airports, 6,404 transportation-related targets, 866 food stores, 387 fuel stations, 668 markets, and 736 food trucks, according to Yemen’s Eye of Humanity Center for Human Rights and Development. The report from the center, issued on the fifth anniversary of the war, also reported that 16 ports, 297 electrical stations and generators, 1,990 reservoirs and water networks, and 1,953 government facilities have been bombed. Moreover, at least 458,061 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

First famine, now a pandemic

According to the UN, those facing malnourishment are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and Yemen is in the midst of the world’s worst famine. The UN has said that 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million that are threatened immediately by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in over 100 years as a result of the Saudi-led war backed by the United States.

The Saudi-led coalition has targeted Yemen’s urban and rural livelihood alike, bombing farms, food systems, markets, water facilities, transportation infrastructure, and even agricultural extension offices. In coastal areas, fishing boats and food processing and storage facilities have been targeted, undermining livelihoods, disrupting local food production, and forcing residents to flee to the city.

Now, Yemen’s nationwide level of household food insecurity hovers at over 70 percent. Fifty percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households are now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially amongst the holdouts in rural areas.

High precision U.S. bombs dropped by Saudi-led coalition warplanes have destroyed at least 1,834 irrigation pumps, 109 artesian and surface wells, 1,170 modern irrigation networks, 33 solar irrigation units, 12 diggers, 750 pieces of agricultural equipment, 940,400 farms, 7,531 agricultural reserves, 30 productive nurseries, 182 poultry farms, and 359,944 beehives.

Attacks have completely destroyed at least 45 water installations (dams, barriers, reservoirs) and partially destroyed at least 488, including the ancient Marib Dam. As of Mar. 20, 2020, every fish off-loading port in Yemen had been targeted by Saudi attacks. At least 220 fishing boats have been destroyed, 222 fishermen have been killed, and 40,000 fishermen have lost their only source of income. According to Yemen’s Ministry of Fishing Wealth, this affects the lives of more than two million people living in coastal cities and villages.

Moreover, the war, which has wreaked havoc on Yemen’s already fragile economy, has caused thousands in Yemen to lose their jobs. Many local and foreign companies have ceased operations in the country. According to Yemen’s Ministry of Social Affairs, over 5 million workers are without jobs. So far, Salaries for public-sector workers have not been paid regularly since the war began, and Saudi Arabia seized control of Yemen’s Central Bank, leaving vulnerable populations at risk of falling victim to epidemics.

It’s true that the United States and many other countries, including Britain and France, think of their own citizens first, their problems and their challenges. Yet these countries provide support to Saudi Arabia at all levels, allowing it to collapse Yemen’s health sector amid the worst pandemic in recent history.

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