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.

See the source image

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.

See the source image
 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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